A Broomean Model of Rationality and Reasoning

Journal of Philosophy 116 (11):585-614 (2019)
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John Broome has developed an account of rationality and reasoning which gives philosophical foundations for choice theory and the psychology of rational agents. We formalize his account into a model that differs from ordinary choice-theoretic models through focusing on psychology and the reasoning process. Within that model, we ask Broome’s central question of whether reasoning can make us more rational: whether it allows us to acquire transitive preferences, consistent beliefs, non-akratic intentions, and so on. We identify three structural types of rationality requirements: consistency requirements, completeness requirements, and closedness requirements. Many standard rationality requirements fall under this typology. Based on three theorems, we argue that reasoning is successful in achieving closedness requirements, but not in achieving consistency or completeness requirements. We assess how far our negative results reveal gaps in Broome's theory, or deficiencies in choice theory and behavioral economics.

Author Profiles

Franz Dietrich
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique


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