Why preferences can be optional
[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT REQUEST OF AUTHOR.] In practical deliberation, your aim should not always only be to promote objective goodness. Rather, I argue, you should use your own practical evaluations, as long as they are reasonable. Reasonable evaluations are sensitive to agent-centered reasons (e.g., you should not have a favorite child), instrumental reasons (e.g., to have more common interests with others), and rational reasons. This dissertation primarily develops an account of rational reasons for evaluations. Particularly, I investigate which evaluations rationally fit objective values. For many items (e.g., career paths or hobbies), it is plausible that no particular sharp evaluation is rationally required, even though some evaluations are clearly too high or low. For other items (e.g., someone else's pain), their weight in practical deliberation do not depend on the evaluator's perspective. To explain this difference, I defend an interval account of rationally fitting evaluaations, noting that the intervals can collapse to points. Each chapter rebuts an objection to the interval account. Chapter 1 rebuts the objection that value relations cannot be modeled using relations between intervals. I offer different definitions. Chapter 2 rebuts the objection that arbitrarily sharpened evaluations (within the intervals) cannot be practically authoritative. I respond that they must be practically authoritative or else perfect rationality would be possible in principle. Chapter 3 responds to the objection that evaluations cannot be practically authoritative because it is practically impossible to change them. I grant that it is often permissible to change our evaluations, but I rhetorically challenge the objector to deny that such things can (though need not) contribute meaning to a life.
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