Seeking the standpoint of rationality
Tierney, Robert Barkley
Master of Arts
Theories of practical rationality which are based upon the concept of the maximization of preference satisfaction are open to criticism on the grounds that they alienate the agent from his actions, and from the source of his actions in his moral emotions. This general analysis of rational motivation can be further supported by a close analysis of the rational strategy known as "precommitment". Ordinarily taken to exemplify an ideal strategy of rational maximization, upon closer inspection the rational motivation involved in precommitment is typically not maximization of preference satisfaction, nor should it be. These arguments show that the agent would be better off in terms of preference maximization if he believed some other theory of practical rationality. If the preference satisfaction model recommends some other theory of practical rationality, then it no longer directly provides the agent with reasons for action, in which case it no longer serves as a theory of practical rationality at all.