Both responsibility and rationality are essential for production and efficiency—whilst they do not inherently generate well-being.
Responsibility implies rationality because expectations and predictions flow from specific duties; conversely, acting on whim, being illogical, and ignoring agreed purposes, are taken to indicate irresponsibility.
Rationality implies responsibility because others must be able to depend on a person standing behind their views, pursuing their stated goals, adhering to a doctrine or using evidence and logic properly.
These mentalities demand a degree of rationality and responsibility.
Moving down the diagonal reveals:
Methods: The burden of logic, purpose, knowledge and accountability leads to various approaches to reduce the risk inherent in any endeavour. A general method is to enhance expertise through focus and specialization.
Risk: Even if intellectual accounts by journalists or academics imply the need for risky or revolutionary changes, intellectual activities are themselves usually low risk.
Limits: Inquiries are bound by terms of reference and theoretical purity, often to the neglect of pragmatic pressures that invariably determine action.
Risk: There is always the risk of censure, counter-attack, social disapproval and ultimate failure.
Limits: The defining ideology sets bounds, often leading to the neglect of alternative ideals or the wider consequences of a manifesto.
Risk: An entrepreneur takes many more risks and carries a far greater burden of responsibility than an employee (even a CEO) whose duties and downside are circumscribed by an employment contract.
Limits: Responsibilities are firmly bound by the needs of the business or job, to the neglect of the wider environment.
These avoid, deny, spoil, reject or supersede rational thought and responsible action. Rationality is simply too cold or artificial and responsibility just too impersonal in the face of feelings, self-interest and suffering.aim to protect or advance themselves or their group. So they trend to
Because: Intense emotions and the urge to gratify wishes interfere with rationality. Nepotism and racism interfere with responsibility.
Because: Saving face is always given a higher priority than responsibility; and cronyism, loyalty, impulsiveness and dangerous risk-taking tend to ignore rational factors.
Because: Rationality, especially about finances, tends to be displaced by irrational feelings, especially guilt, and the desire to be egalitarian and meet entitlement claims of group members.
Because: Reality includes others’ minds and cosmic forces, so use of the imagination is essential; and the output of such seeing cannot be meaningfully subject to rational thought.
Originally posted: July 2009