Reasoning in attitudes

Synthese 200 (6):1–31 (2022)
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People reason not only in beliefs, but also in intentions, preferences, and other attitudes. They form preferences from existing preferences, or intentions from existing beliefs and intentions, and so on. This often involves choosing between rival conclusions. Building on Broome (Rationality through reasoning, Hoboken, Wiley., 2013) and Dietrich et al. (J Philos 116:585–614., 2019), we present a philosophical and formal analysis of reasoning in attitudes, with or without facing choices in reasoning. We give different accounts of choosing, in terms of a conscious activity or a partly subconscious process. Reasoning in attitudes differs fundamentally from reasoning _about_ attitudes, a form of theoretical reasoning in which one discovers rather than forms attitudes. We show that reasoning in attitudes has standard formal properties (such as monotonicity), but is indeterministic, reflecting choice in reasoning. Like theoretical reasoning, it need not follow logical entailment, but for a more radical reason, namely indeterminism. This makes reasoning in attitudes harder to model logically than theoretical reasoning. But it can be studied abstractly, using indeterministic consequence operators.

Author Profiles

Franz Dietrich
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique


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