Appreciating the Difference Between What’s Rational and What’s Right
Holly Wood, PhD

Interrelationship of morality, rationality, & self-interest

Your blog comments are thought-provoking. They leave me, and perhaps others, with the following questions to consider:

Being rational versus being right. You said “I think if people were given the choice between being rational and being right”. Question — Why is “being rational” and “being right” mutually exclusive? I never thought so.

Being rational is to be self-interested. You said “To be rational is to be sane is to be self-interested”. Question — Cannot a person be, and are some people, rational in pursuit of the best interest of society as a whole, rather than “self-interested”? I think so.

Being rational as “common sense”. You said “There’s also a second way people use the word rational, generally, to mean “common sense.” Question — Are there some things that people consider to be “common sense” that really are not rational? For example, in the past was in it “common sense” to many people that certain racial groups had certain common characteristics, which notion has now been proven untrue?

Rational or insane. You said “If you weren’t being rational, you’d be — by definition — insane.” Question — When people select the spouse don’t they do it more based upon emotion rather than rationality? Are decisions based upon emotion, rather than being made rationally, “insane” decisions?

Crowd-tested morals. You said “Morals aren’t things that should be crowd tested”. Question — Where should a person look to determine what is moral, and what is not? Should morality be determined by each individual, so that there may be many different opinions as to whether something is moral or not, depending upon the individual making the determination? Or, instead, should morality be determined by the society as a whole? If morality is to be determined by society as a whole, isn’t that the same thing as “crowd testing”?

Evolving morality. You said with regard to Hillary Clinton “… her moral principles are always evolving alongside socio-historical polls…” Question — Would it be better for a political figure, such as on Hillary Clinton, to make decisions and proposals based upon either (X) her personal views of morality, or (Y) her perception of the changing views of society as to morality? I would prefer that a political figure act in accordance with the changing society view of morality, rather than for the political figure to impose their fixed or changing personal views of morality. Apparently you disagree?

As you can see, your post has been very thought-provoking. I wonder what the best answers to these questions would be.