Grazer Philosophische Studien

Volume 12/13, 1981

Harald Ofstad
Pages 227-249

How Can We - Irrational Persons Operating in Irrational Societies - Decide Rationality?

Utilitarian deliberation has a number of weak or open points where the agent's judgements tend to be influenced by psychological and sociological factors, e.g., by his prejudices, anxieties, insecurities or group-identifications. The most vulnerable points are: the formulation of the problem, the selection of alternatives, the calculation of consequences, the weighing of evidence, the selection of ultimate values and the comparison of different values towards each other.— The utilitarian vocabulary provides the chooser with misleading expressions such as "The action A1 produces more value on the whole than A2" backing up his cpnviction of acting rationally. — In order to improve the situation, we must become aware of the delusiveness of such expressions and of society's and our own irrationality and try to develop more rational feelings and attitudes.