Three kinds of moral rationalism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


Moral rationalism can be formulated in three very different ways depending on which of three features the moral rationalist thinks is more fundamental when it comes to explaining what we are obliged to do, permitted to do, and forbidden from doing. The first of these is the relation that holds between certain considerations and intentions or desires when those considerations provide reasons for having those intentions or desires. The second is the choiceworthiness or desirability of the objects of an agent's intentions or desires. The third is the set of structural relations that an agents' intentions or desires stand in to each other, and to other psychological states, insofar as that agent is rational. The main aim of the paper is to demonstrate that the last of these is explanatorily fundamental. A subsidiary aim is to spell out the epistemological consequences of this fact.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationThe Many Moral Rationalisms
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Print)9780198797074
StatePublished - Jul 19 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Choiceworthiness
  • Christine Korsgaard
  • David Hume
  • Desirability
  • Desires
  • Intentions
  • Judith Jarvis Thomson
  • Moral rationalism
  • Reasons
  • Thomas M. Scanlon


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