, Volume 195, Issue 5, pp 2021–2038 | Cite as

Does the normative question about rationality rest on a mistake?

  • Yair Levy


Rationality requires that our mental attitudes exhibit specific patterns of coherence. Do we have reason to comply? ’Prichardian Quietists’ regard this question as fundamentally confused: the only reasons to comply with rational requirements are the ones given by the requirements themselves. In this paper, I argue that PQ fails. I proceed by granting that Prichard’s own position, from which PQ draws inspiration, is defensible, while identifying three serious problems with the parallel position about rationality. First, as I argue, PQ is not plausibly combined with either the narrow-scope or the wide-scope formulations of rational requirements. Second, PQ implies that the reasons to comply with rational requirements are reasons of the wrong kind. And finally, PQ lacks a crucial component of its explanation, viz. a plausible theory of what constitutes being rationally required to V.


Rational requirements Normativity of rationality Scope H. A. Prichard Reasons of the wrong kind 



For their very helpful comments on, and discussions of, earlier drafts of this paper, I am extremely grateful to Hagit Benbaji, Dalia Drai, Alex Gregory, David Horst, Naomi Korem, Jonathan Way, Ruth Weintraub, audiences at Cardiff University and the meeting of the European Normativity Network at Humboldt University, and two anonymous referees for this journal.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentTel-Aviv UniversityTel-AvivIsrael

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