Not currently offered
Course code



10 units


3000 level

Course handbook


An introduction to modern conceptions of rationality, their major problems and alternatives. The course introduces Decision Theory and Game Theory. Questions raised by these theories include: Are rational beliefs only those supported by evidence, or could beneficial beliefs also be rational even if contrary to evidence? In order to have a reason to do something, do we need to have some desire to do it? Could nuclear deterrence ever be rational? Are rational agents in the so-called Prisoner's Dilemma doomed to sub-optimal outcomes?


Not currently offered.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. To impart knowledge and understanding of the issues addressed and approaches taken by philosophers in discussing the nature of rationality.

2. To impart critical skills to deal with these issues and employ these approaches in their thinking about what it is rational to do, to believe, and to desire.

3. Develop high level written and oral skills in understanding and presenting philosophical issues concerned with rational choices.

4. Develop an understanding and appreciation of the ways in which rationality theory in both its classical and contemporary forms bears upon the discussion of moral, social and political choice in the society at large.


Lectures and tutorials focus on historical and contemporary treatments of the nature of rationality. Content includes an introduction to Decision and Game Theory and a discussion of the rationality of beliefs, of desires, and of actions.

Assumed knowledge

10 units of PHIL courses at 1000 level, or 40 units of any courses at any level.

Assessment items

Written Assignment: Two or more written assignments