Rational Cooperation, Irrational Retaliation

Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 74:362-380 (1993)
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Abstract

David Gauthier argues that it can be rational to perform a non-maximizing cooperative act, since there are certain situations in which it is rational to adopt an intention to perform a non-maximizing cooperative act, and since if it is rational to adopt an intention to do something, then it is rational to do that thing. An important objection to this argument focuses on the move from the rationality of adopting intentions to the rationality of acting on them. Gregory Kavka argues that there are other situations – involving deterrence rather than cooperation – in which it is rational to adopt an intention to perform an irrational retaliatory action, that these situations and the cooperative ones are relevantly similar, so that, in the original cooperative situations, it is rational to adopt an intention to cooperate but irrational actually to cooperate. In this paper, I examine one way in which the argument for cooperation may be reformulated to circumvent this particular objection.

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Joseph Mintoff
Australian National University (PhD)

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