Are "logical" and "rational" objective classifications of a person's actions?
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22-02-2015, 07:48 PM
Are "logical" and "rational" objective classifications of a person's actions?
(I had posted this on another forum, but got no responses for almost two weeks. Any coding issues are from having copied this text in its entirety and only glancing at it to fix them)

I've been thinking about how, if someone acts based on emotion, their actions are called "irrational" and/or "illogical". However, are those terms objectively applicable (by which I mean to ask if we can objectively say that a course of action would have been rational and/or logical instead of what occurred)? IMO, you could say the person was overcome with an emotion and acted based on that emotion, but nothing more. If the end-result was achieved, though, was it a poor choice (from a logical and/or rational standpoint)? Here's a less vague hypothetical scenario so you can understand what I mean.
Person A's wife is killed by a random street thug. The police do nothing, as they always have. Overwhelmed with grief and wanting to keep the streets safe (by lowering the crime rate), person A becomes a vigilante and kills every criminal he/she can find. Crime goes down, but everyone is scared. Once A is caught, the police are pressured into acting, and so the streets stay safe without further bloodshed.

Was A's action irrational or illogical? After all, their goal was achieved - the streets are safer. Of course, A was arrested, but the result was the same: safer streets. We could argue that this is really about the ends justifying the means, but that's a subjective issue.

So, to reiterate: Are "logical" and "rational" objective classifications of a person's actions? Why/Why not?

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22-02-2015, 08:18 PM
RE: Are "logical" and "rational" objective classifications of a person's actions?
I think you could call Person A actions to be quite logical, but not very rational.

They are logical because there is a logical sequence of facts and effects. But if you stop and think about it, it wouldn't be the most rational course of action, and I can't see myself agreeing with it. I certainly wouldn't want someone going around like that unchecked. You could say "but hey, he's getting the criminals".

First, even then, it would still be debatable. What kind of criminals? All of them? If not, who decides where's the limit?

Second, even if that was ok, it would be in theory. But in theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they aren't. (e.g. He kills someone he believes to be a criminal but is actually not.)

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22-02-2015, 08:30 PM
RE: Are "logical" and "rational" objective classifications of a person's actions?
(22-02-2015 08:18 PM)The Polyglot Atheist Wrote:  I think you could call Person A actions to be quite logical, but not very rational.

They are logical because there is a logical sequence of facts and effects. But if you stop and think about it, it wouldn't be the most rational course of action, and I can't see myself agreeing with it. I certainly wouldn't want someone going around like that unchecked. You could say "but hey, he's getting the criminals".

First, even then, it would still be debatable. What kind of criminals? All of them? If not, who decides where's the limit?

Second, even if that was ok, it would be in theory. But in theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they aren't. (e.g. He kills someone he believes to be a criminal but is actually not.)

See, that's the problem. Objectively - that is, independently of one's values - A is simply acting on their own desires. Sure, I think A's actions are absurd, and you think they're irrational, but A does not. You could say A's overwhelmed with emotion. That's true (in fact, it's in the hypothetical scenario). However, all that emotions do is create a shift in priorities. To A, lowering the crime rate became more important than anything else. Potentially killing one innocent to save the others is acceptable in A's view, and that's what's being done.

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22-02-2015, 08:41 PM
RE: Are "logical" and "rational" objective classifications of a person's actions?
(22-02-2015 07:48 PM)One Above All Wrote:  So, to reiterate: Are "logical" and "rational" objective classifications of a person's actions? Why/Why not?

More like consensus classifications.

#sigh
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