The Concept of Rationality for a City
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© 2019, Springer Nature B.V. The central aim of this paper is to argue that there is a meaningful sense in which a concept of rationality can apply to a city. The idea will be that a city is rational to the extent that the collective practices of its people enable diverse inhabitants to simultaneously live the kinds of life they are each trying to live. This has significant implications for the varieties of social practices (including social customs, physical infrastructure, and laws) that constitute being more or less rational. Some of these implications may be welcome to a theorist that wants to identify collective rationality with a notion of justice, while others are unwelcome. There are some significant challenges to this use of the concept of rationality, but I claim that these challenges at the city level have parallels at the individual level, and may thus help deepen our understanding of rationality at all levels.
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