Reasons for action and rationality

Lennart Nordenfelt

in Rationality and Compulsion

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print April 2007 | ISBN: 9780199214853
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754517 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Reasons for action and rationality

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These considerations concern the very existence of a reason for an action to be performed at t. Minimal requirements exist as to duration and psychological firmness for the reason to be a ‘real’ reason. Already, on this level, we can conceive of defects in a person's mental make-up, which can account for a certain inability to act. Persons may have difficulty in committing themselves and may be inclined to drop their commitments without any obvious counter-reason. However, that a want or a belief is abandoned can in itself be perfectly reasonable. Matters of great urgency may have arisen and may warrant the making of other decisions, or there may be new and more reliable information that may warrant quite different beliefs. Another important thing that may lie behind the abandonment of a reason is that the agents realize that they are not going to make it; they realize that they are unable to perform the relevant action. And belief that one can perform an action is a precondition for one's intending to perform it, which itself is a precondition for the performance of the action.

Chapter.  4658 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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