Is Rationality Normative?


Rationality requires various things of you. For example, it requires you not to have contradictory beliefs, and to intend what you believe is a necessary means to an end that you intend. Suppose rationality requires you to F. Does this fact constitute a reason for you to F? Does it even follow from this fact that you have a reason to F? I examine these questions and reach a sceptical conclusion about them. I can find no satisfactory argument to show that either has the answer ‘yes’. I consider the idea that rationality is normative for instrumental reasons, because it helps you to achieve some of the things you ought to achieve. I also consider the idea that rationality consists in responding correctly to reasons. I reject both.

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