Rationality and Normativity

In Hugh LaFollette (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Ethics. Wiley (2022)
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This entry considers the question of whether rationality is normative; that is, the question of whether one always ought (or, more weakly, has a reason) to be rational. It first distinguishes substantive from structural rationality, noting how structural rationality presents a more serious challenge to the thesis that rationality is normative. It then considers the plausibility of skepticism about structural rationality, and notes some problems facing such skepticism. However, if we are not skeptics about structural requirements, we face the task of formulating those requirements. But both narrow-scope and wide-scope formulations seem incompatible with the idea that we always ought to be rational. This suggests that we have good reason to think that rationality is not strongly normative.

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John Brunero
University of Nebraska, Lincoln


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