Instrumental rationality and Carroll's tortoise

Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 8 (5):557 - 569 (2005)
Some philosophers have tried to establish a connection between the normativity of instrumental rationality and the paradox presented by Lewis Carroll in his 1895 paper “What the Tortoise Said to Achilles.” I here examine and argue against accounts of this connection presented by Peter Railton and James Dreier before presenting my own account and discussing its implications for instrumentalism (the view that all there is to practical rationality is instrumental rationality). In my view, the potential for a Carroll-style regress just shows us that since instrumental rationality involves a higher-order commitment to combine our willing an end with our taking the necessary means, it therefore cannot, on pain of regress, itself be added as a conjunct to one of the elements to be combined. This view does not support instrumentalism.
Keywords Lewis Carroll  James Dreier  infinite regress  instrumental rationality  instrumentalism  practical rationality  Peter Railton
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References found in this work BETA
Christine M. Korsgaard (1997). The Normativity of Instrumental Reason. In Garrett Cullity & Berys Gaut (eds.), Ethics and Practical Reason. Oxford: Clarendon Press
James Dreier (1997). Humean Doubts About the Practical Justification of Morality. In Garrett Cullity & Gaut Berys (eds.), Ethics and Practical Reason. Oxford Clarendon Press 81--100.

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Citations of this work BETA
Jan Willem Wieland (2013). What Carroll's Tortoise Actually Proves. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (5):983-997.

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