Immorality and Irrationality

Philosophical Perspectives 33 (1):220-253 (2019)
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Abstract
Does immorality necessarily involve irrationality? The question is often taken to be among the deepest in moral philosophy. But apparently deep questions sometimes admit of deflationary answers. In this case we can make way for a deflationary answer by appealing to dualism about rationality, according to which there are two fundamentally distinct notions of rationality: structural rationality and substantive rationality. I have defended dualism elsewhere. Here, I’ll argue that it allows us to embrace a sensible – I will not say boring – moderate view about the relationship between immorality and irrationality: roughly, that immorality involves substantive irrationality, but not structural irrationality. I defend this moderate view, and argue that many of the arguments for less moderate views turn either on missing the distinction between substantive and structural rationality, or on misconstruing it.
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