Academic year
Manuel García-Carpintero
Department of Philosophy
Universitat de Barcelona
Master courses
Module 6. Theories of Rationality
2014-02-17 - 2014-05-30
Tue. 15:00-17:30
Room 401, Fac. Filosofia, UB


The purpose of the course will be to critically examine philosophical issues around the concept of intentional action, such as whether it requires having, or believing we have, reasons to act, or whether practical reasoning is a way of considering the reasons we have to form certain intentions. We will examine contemporary neo-Humean theories of motivation, standard versions of decision theory, and most common non-Humean accounts of intentional action. 

The course does not presuppose any previous familiarity with the topic.

1 Humean theories of motivation.
2 Motivating and normative reasons
3 Having a reason and acting for a reason
4 The rationalistic conception of motivation
5 The teleology of intentional action
6 Intentional Action and Practical Rationality


There will be 15 sessions of a weekly seminar –about 2 hours each one. Each week there will be either a lecture-style presentation, or a seminar in which specific assigned reading will be discussed.


Participants will be asked to introduce at least one of the seminar discussions, and to write one critical essay of between 2000 and 4000 words length, on a relevant question to be agreed with the teacher, who will also be available for advice on essay plans.  The language of the essay can be Catalan, Spanish or English.


Anscombe, G. E. M., 1957, Intention, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Bratman, M., 1987, Intention, Plans, and Practical Reason, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Broome, 2013: Rationality Through Reasoning. Oxford, Blackwell.
Davidson, D. “Actions, Reasons and Causes”, in his Essays on Actions and Events, Oxford: Clarendon.
Davidson, D. “Intending”, in his Essays on Actions and Events, Oxford: Clarendon.
Dreier, James (ed.), 2006: Contemporary Debates in Moral Theory, Oxford: Blackwell.
Hume, D., 1978, A Treatise of Human Nature, second edition, L. A. Selby-Bigge and P. H. Niditch (eds.), Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Kolnai, A. 1962: ‘Deliberation is of Ends’. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 62, pp. 195–218.
Nagel, T., 1978, The Possibility of Altruism, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
O’Connor, T. & Sandis, C. (eds.), 2012: A Companion to the Philosophy of Action, Oxford: OUP.
Scanlon, T. M., 1998, What We Owe to Each Other, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
Setiya, Kieran, 2010: Reasons without Rationalism, Princeton: Princeton UP.
Setiya, Kieran (ed.), 2011: Internal Reasons: Contemporary Readings, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Setiya, Kieran, 2013: Knowing Right From Wrong, Oxford: OUP.
Smith, M., 1987, “The Humean Theory of Motivation”, Mind 96: 36-61.
Smith, M., 2004, “Humean Rationality” in Mele and Rawling (edits.), The Oxford Handbook of Rationality, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Schroeder, Mark, 2010: Slaves of Passions, Oxford: OUP.
Schroeder, Mark, 2010: Being For, Oxford: OUP.
Thompson, M. 2008, Life and Action, Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Wiggins, D., 1987, “Deliberation and Practical Reason”, in his Needs, Values, Truth, Oxford: Blackwell.
Williams, B., 1981, “Internal and External Reasons”, in his Moral Luck, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wittgenstein, L., 1958, Philosophical Investigations, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.