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The Retreat of ReasonA dilemma in the philosophy of life$
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Ingmar Persson

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199276905

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0199276900.001.0001

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The Retreat of Reason

Ingmar Persson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Since it has been found in earlier chapters of part V that the concept of desert and of rights, along with agent-oriented emotions like anger, gratitude, remorse and feelings of guilt and comparative emotions like pride, shame, admiration and contempt, all presuppose the notion of an epistemically ultimate cause, this chapter contends that rationalists who seek to be as rational as possible will have to rid themselves of these concepts and emotions for their pursuit of causal inquiries will dissolve this notion. It does not follow that rationalists will have to rid themselves of the concept of justice, for even though differences with respect to desert and rights disappear, justice can survive in the shape of equality. If so, satisfactionalists who subject their goal of maximizing fulfilment to requirements of rationality, will not only aim to maximize fulfilment overall, but will also aim to distribute it as equally as possible. It will however not be rational for these satisfactionalists to join company with rationalists in the striving to rid themselves of all agent-oriented and comparative emotions, for this will interfere with their satisfactionalist goal. So, we face a third dilemma between rationalism and satisfactionalism, a dilemma as regards responsibility. This treatment of our attitudes surrounding responsibility is then compared to the celebrated treatment P. F. Strawson and, following him Jonathan Bennett, has given of ‘reactive attitudes’.

Keywords:   agent-oriented emotions, Jonathan Bennett, comparative emotions, desert, equality, justice, rationality, reactive attitudes, responsibility, P.F. Strawson

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