Prolegomena to a Theory of Rational Motives

  • Ilmar Waldner
Part of the The University of Western Ontario Series in Philosophy of Science book series (WONS, volume 13a)


What do we want from a theory of rational decision making? At the very least we want some guidelines on how, rationally, we ought to make our decisions and a justification of the claim that decisions insofar as they are made in accordance with those guidelines are rational. This presupposes some account of rationality or, alternatively, offers the theory as a partial account of rationality. It is this larger problem, the giving of a justified account of rationality, which is at any rate the central problem. A particular theory of rational decision is of interest only to the extent that it either contributes to or is justified in terms of such a general account of rationality. Thus my interest here in the theory of decision is in terms of the contribution that such a theory might make towards a general, robust theory of rationality. Such a general theory will at the very least include not only a theory of rational choice among alternatives but also a theory of rational beliefs and of rational values, and, as I shall suggest, also a theory of rational design. Such a general, robust theory of rationality is of interest for the contribution that it could make towards a number of different areas of concern: an account of individual and social abberation as well as an account of sane individual actions and social interractions, to an account of educational and therapeutic aims, and as I propose to argue on another occasion to a general ‘cognitive’ theory of psychology.


Rational Belief Choice Situation Interpersonal Comparison Rational Motive Robust Theory 
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  1. 1.
    Ilmar Waldner, ‘The Empirical Meaningfulness of Interpersonal Utility Comparisons’, The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. LXIX, No. 4, February 24, 1972.Google Scholar
  2. Ilmar Waldner, ‘Bare Preference and Interpersonal Utility Comparisons’, Theory and Decision Vol. V, 1974.Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Richard Jeffrey, ‘Preference Among Preferences’, Journal of Philosophy, Vol. LXII, No. 13, July 18, 1974.Google Scholar
  4. Harry Frankfurt, ‘Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person’, Journal of Philosophy, Vol. LXVIII, No. 1, January 14, 1971.Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    Kelvin Lancaster, Consumer Demand: A New Approach, New York, 1971.Google Scholar
  6. David Braybrooke, ‘From Economics to Aesthetics: The Rectification of Preferences’, Nous Vol. 8, No. 1, March 1974, with whose approach I have much sympathy and from whom I first learned of Lancaster’s work.Google Scholar
  7. David Braybrooke and Charles E. Lindblom, A Strategy of Decision, Free Press, 1963, for an interesring discussion of what they call a ‘Disjointed Incrementalist’ strategy.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ilmar Waldner
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MarylandUSA

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