Minor in Environmental Studies - Theory of Rational Decision PHIL 4120   Theory of Rational Decision
How would rational people choose which actions to do, given what they desire? We will see that theories about this have evolved to respond to such toy problems as the Prisoner's Dilemma and the Deterrence Paradox. We then explore the relationship between rationality and other phenomena, e.g.: is it always rational to be moral? Are persons necessarily rational? (What about those with mental health issues?) Would rational persons always be prudent, i.e., always make choices now in the light of desires they expect to have, not just those they currently have? Are good laws necessarily ones people would find it rational to accept and follow? We eventually examine whether rationality is grounded in people's actual desires, or whether there are objective constraints on desires it is rational to have and to choose from, whether desires are relevant at all, and whether there can be a single standard of rationality for all times and all people. Throughout, we apply philosophical accounts of rationality to selected issues of the moment, e.g., to issues in war, governance, democracy, intelligence, and cyber ethics, many of these dealt with as they arise in processing issues being mooted by the American think tank, the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law. The association between that think tank and the class means that students can expect to have influence at the highest levels of government and policy.
FORMAT: Seminar
PREREQUISITES: At least two previous credits in philosophy or permission of the instructor