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March 09, 2013



Surely rationality is a meaningless concept here. All of these examples are just people being emotional in a self destructive way. Wanting to hurt your faithless husband is human but not rational. Like suicide bombers.

To be happy requires more than reason; it requires a well adjusted Psychological state. Not all spouses want revenge on their faithless partners, some merely move on after a amicable break realising that Love has gone. Most people who dislike the USA or its Foreign policy have more of a sense of proportion than to think that indiscriminate violence is a good response.

Instrumental rationality suffers from the problem that it has no moral centre. Making a good bomb has a rational test, does it go bang at the intended moment? But deciding if you ought to make a bomb or when to detonate it is a moral and emotional issue that instrumentality cannot answer. In the same way that you cannot say how much money you should make or how much cocaine to consume or if you should consume it at all. The answer to those questions requires some world view which involves judgements not reducible to utility. There are good passions and bad passions and Hume is being unhelpfully contrarian by ignoring the Philosophical question of how we should discriminate between them. Ideals like being a "good" soldier are an example; a pacifist could say there are no good soldiers as war is a mistake. We could also ask what does being a good soldier imply? Does it mean following the Customs of war and refusing to obey orders that violate them? Does it mean refusing to join in Torture or refusing to fight in wars you consider unjust? Ideals are not simple concepts and if you think about them all sorts of inconsistencies come to light.


This all works logically, but it does seem to be bending over backwards to keep 'rationality' in the equation when it seems to have been the last thing on her mind.


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