Volume 10, Issue 2, 2010
Asymmetry, Scope, and Rational Consistency
Suppose rationality requires you to A if you believe you ought to A. Suppose you believe that you ought to A. How can you satisfy this requirement? One way seems obvious. You can satisfy this requirement by A-ing. But can you also satisfy it by stopping to believe that you ought to A? Recently, it has been argued that this second option is not a genuine way of satisfying the above requirement. Conditional requirements of rationality do not have two ‘symmetric’, but only one ‘asymmetric’ satisfaction condition. This paper explores the consequences of this argument for a theory of the requirements of rationality. I seek to show that this
view conflicts with another powerful intuition about the requirements of rationality, i.e. ‘rational consistency’: if rationality requires you to X, then it is not the case that rationality requires you to not-X. I shall conclude that ‘asymmetric’ satisfying is based on a misleading intuition, for which we should not sacrifice ‘rational consistency’.