Honors Program


Date of this Version

Spring 3-10-2023

Document Type



Seet, C. 2023. Degrees of Agential Substantive (Ir)Rationality. Undergraduate Honors Thesis. University of Nebraska - Lincoln.


Copyright Crystal Seet 2023.


Present in the literature on reasons and rationality is the following intuition:

Counting Intuition: If S has a mental state p that goes against S’s reasons, and S infers from p to a further mental state q that also goes against S’s reasons, then, all else equal, q always makes S more substantively irrational.

I argue against the Counting Intuition and for the conclusion that S is not more substantively irrational in reasoning from p to q by proposing that agential substantive rationality should be determined by S’s process of reasoning and not S’s mental states; call this the reasoning-centred view. I start in Section I by motivating the disconnect between the Counting Intuition and substantive rationality of agents and isolate substantive reasoning as the focus of this paper. Then, I tackle some preliminary concerns about substantive reasoning in Section II. In Section III, I consider objections to the reasoning-centred account. Finally, in Section IV, I introduce and reject an alternative to both the Counting Intuition and the reasoning-centred account—a reasons-centred account—as a viable option.