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From Conflict to Unity: Motivation and Practical Reason

Mylonaki, Evgenia (2011) From Conflict to Unity: Motivation and Practical Reason. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In my dissertation I explore the connection between intentional action and practical normativity from the perspective of motivation. I assume that an adequate theory of action motivation should embrace the normative commitment that to explain intentional action is to reveal it to be subject to practical norms. In the first chapter I argue that these are not the norms of so-called instrumental rationality. Against most theories of practical reason I argue that there is no irreducible, action-guiding requirement of practical rationality to take the means to one's ends. The normativity of means-end thought is not a type of practical rationality that guides action, but is internal to the elementary structure of intentional action itself. In the second chapter I argue against monolithic theories on which the relevant norms are the norms of non-instrumental practical rationality which are constituted as such by a single requirement: the requirement to approximate or satisfy an agent-general desire, to act in accordance with one's judgment about one's reasons, or to engage in a single type of practical reasoning. To allow for the possibility of primary motivational conflict, conflict between contrary motivations towards one and the same action at the same time, we have to assume a multi-dimensional theory which posits incommensurable practical requirements at the source of practical norms. In the final chapter I argue that we should explain choice in the face of conflict between these incommensurable requirements in terms of these very requirements alone. Against contemporary versions of Humeanism, Scholasticism and Kantianism I argue that we should not appeal to the existence of a separate purely executive or a more rational capacity for choice to explain how incommensurable practical requirements issue in unified intentional action. Instead, I propose, we should accept that these incommensurable requirements issue in unified intentional action because they constitute potential determinations of practical knowledge: knowledge of oneself as determined in one's reasoning about what to do by the right requirement for the circumstances. Intentional action is what meets the requirements of practical rationality, I show, as long as we take these requirements to be both incommensurable and cognitive.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Mylonaki, Evgeniaevm9@pitt.eduEVM9
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairSetiya, Kierankis23@pitt.eduKIS23
Committee MemberGupta, Anilagupta@pitt.eduAGUPTA
Committee MemberMoss,
Committee MemberMcDowell, Johnjmcdowel@pitt.eduJMCDOWEL
Date: 30 January 2011
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 19 November 2010
Approval Date: 30 January 2011
Submission Date: 21 November 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Philosophy
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: instrumental rationality; intention; motivation; practical conflict; practical knowledge; practical reason; theory of action
Other ID:, etd-11212010-204233
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:05
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:51


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