Matthew B. Boyle F'10

Matthew B. Boyle
University of Chicago

ACLS Fellowship Program 2010
Assistant Professor
Harvard University
The Mind of a Rational Animal

This project investigates what it means to say that human beings are rational animals, and the implications of this classification for the philosophy of mind and psychology. Drawing on ideas from Immanuel Kant, it argues that we can only make good sense of the rational-nonrational distinction if we understand the intimate connection between rationality and the power to be, in a specific sense, self-determining in one’s own thoughts and choices. The resulting view of the nature of our rationality and the way it informs our capacities perception and desire-governed action—capacities we share with nonrational animals, but which take a distinctive shape in our case—turns out to have important consequences for debates about mind, action, and ethics.