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Emotions, Practical Rationality, and the Self


Tyler Flanagan

University of Wisconsin Osh Kosh, US
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In this paper I examine the relationship between emotions and practical rationality, arguing that emotions are incredibly useful in assisting us in making practical choices. However, this enthusiasm needs to be met with some caution as it not the case that every one of our emotions give us reasons we should be considering in order to make a rational choice, and there are times where if we did follow our hearts we would end up feeling ashamed or displeased with ourselves afterward. At the same time, we can feel guilty about a decision we made while purposefully ignoring our emotions when they tell us otherwise. It is ultimately those instances of reflexive shame or displeasure that tell us something about our agency. Our reflexive emotions show us what we should really care about and when we are failing to do so. And, since the purpose of making rational decisions is to properly attend to our goals and aspirations, part of being rational is to purse what we care about. Our reflexive emotions act as a guide to how well or how poorly we are doing just that.

How to Cite: Flanagan, T., 2018. Emotions, Practical Rationality, and the Self. International Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activities, 10(2), p.9. DOI:
Published on 07 Jun 2018.
Peer Reviewed


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