Published online by Cambridge University Press: 14 June 2005
In his critique of rational choice theory, Amartya Sen claims that committed agents do not (or not exclusively) pursue their own goals. This claim appears to be nonsensical since even strongly heteronomous or altruistic agents cannot pursue other people's goals without making them their own. It seems that self-goal choice is constitutive of any kind of agency.
In this paper, Sen's radical claim is defended. It is argued that the objection raised against Sen's claim holds only with respect to individual goals. Not all goals, however, are individual goals; there are shared goals, too. Shared goals are irreducible to individual goals, as the argument from we-derivativeness and the argument from normativity show. It is further claimed that an adequate account of committed action defies both internalism and externalism about practical reason.