Date Thesis Awarded


Access Type

Honors Thesis -- Access Restricted On-Campus Only

Degree Name

Bachelors of Arts (BA)




Chris Tucker

Committee Members

Joshua Gert

Akshay Gupta


Imagine that you are choosing between two options, A and B, and you judge A to be a better option than B. Before finalizing your choice, I add in a third option: C. You hate C’s, so you immediately exclude it from consideration. Clearly, you rationally ought to choose A over B, right? Not necessarily. There have been many famous cases in Ethics and Decision Theory in which agents can rationally make choices that resemble the choice above. In each of these cases, the addition of the alternative C changes the context such that the agent can rationally switch his or her preferences over A and B. In this paper, I want to argue that there are also cases in which the exclusion of the alternative C from consideration presents new reasons that justify a preference change. Cases involving such reasons, which I have called “Conditional Reasons,” can be used to advance conversations of conditional obligations in Ethics and certain axioms within Decision Theory. In this paper, I defend the existence of conditional reasons and use them to build on what I take to be our best accounts of how we make judgements about conditional statuses. I conclude with a brief argument as to why we might reject the Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives in decision theory, on the grounds that such an axiom cannot make sense of conditional reasons.

On-Campus Access Only