Teaching Rational Entitlement and Responsibility: A Socratic Exercise

David Godden, Old Dominion University

Abstract

The paper reports on a Socratic exercise that introduces participants to the norm of rational entitlement, as distinct from political entitlement, and the attendant norm of rational responsibility. The exercise demonstrates that, because participants are not willing to exchange their own opinion at random for another differing opinion to which the owner is, by the participants' own admission, entitled, they treat their entitlement to their own opinion differently, giving it a special status. This gives rise to rational obligations such as the obligation to provide reasons, and a willingness to risk those opinions to the force of the better reason.