Volume 35, 2018
The Joint Commitment Account
Rebecca Gutwald, Niina Zuber
The Meaning(s) of Structural Rationality
Julian Nida-Rümelin’s philosophical approach to rationality is radical: It transcends the reductive narrowness of instrumental rationality without denying its practical impact. Actions exist which are carried out in accordance to utility maximizing or even self-interest maximizing. Yet not all actions are to be understood in these terms. Actions that are oriented around social roles, for example, cannot count as irrational just because no underlying maximizing heuristics are found. The concept of bounded rationality tries to embed instrumental rationality into a form of life to highlight limits of our cognitive capabilities and selective perceptions. However, the agent is still situated within the realm of cost-benefit reasoning. The idea of social preferences (e.g. Rabin, Fehr and Schmidt) or meta-preferences (Sen) is insufficient to reflect the plurality of human actions. According to Nida-Rümelin, those concepts ignore the plurality of reasons which drive agency. Hence, they try to fit agency into a theory which undermines humanity. His theory of structural rationality acknowledges daily patterns of interaction and meaning.