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Weighing Reasons$
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Errol Lord and Barry Maguire

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199315192

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199315192.001.0001

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Comparativism: The Grounds of Rational Choice

Comparativism: The Grounds of Rational Choice

(p.213) 11 Comparativism: The Grounds of Rational Choice
Weighing Reasons

Ruth Chang

Oxford University Press

What makes a choice rational? This chapter defends comparativism the view that what makes a choice rational is a comparative fact about the alternatives or their reasons. Comparativism is a view that, if correct, any first-order normative theory must accept. There are three important challenges to comparativism: (1) that noncomparative relations among reasons, such as “exclusion,” can be what makes a choice rational; (2) that in some or all choice situations there is just “the” or “a” thing to do, and so comparative facts are irrelevant to what makes a choice rational; and (3) that the incomparability of the alternatives is compatible with the possibility of a rational choice. These challenges are explored and addressed.

Keywords:   comparisons, rational choice, grounds of rational choice, normative ethics, practical reason, exclusionary reasons, deontology, incomparability

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