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date: 30 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article addresses a fundamental dilemma facing the claim that it is rational to be guided by rules. Either the practical verdict issued by a rule is the same as that favored by the balance of reasons, in which case the rule is redundant or the verdicts differ, in which case the rule should be abandoned. This article argues that this dilemma can be resolved by revising the account of practical reasoning to accord with the prescriptions of a resolute choice model. Agents in societies in which people resolutely follow, for example, a rule to keep their commitments to return favors fare better than agents in societies that lack a commitment mechanism or in which costs are incurred to enforce it.

Keywords: rules, practical verdict, practical reasoning, choice model, commitment mechanism

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