Epistemic rationality as instrumental rationality: A critique

In this paper, I explore the relationship between epistemic rationality and instrumental rationality, and I attempt to delineate their respective roles in typical instances of theoretical reasoning. My primary concern is with the instrumentalist conception of epistemic rationality: the view that epistemic rationality is simply a species of instrumental rationality, viz. instrumental rationality in the service of one's cognitive or epistemic goals. After sketching the relevance of the instrumentalist conception to debates over naturalism and 'the ethics of belief', I argue that, despite enjoying considerable popularity among both epistemologists and philosophers of science, it is ultimately indefensible. Having thus argued for the distinctness of epistemic and instrumental rationality, I attempt to clarify the role played by each in typical instances of theoretical reasoning. I suggest that being theoretically rational--that is, being proficient with respect to theoretical reasoning--is best construed as a hybrid virtue, inasmuch as it involves manifesting sensitivity to two very different kinds of reasons.
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DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2003.tb00281.x
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W. V. Quine (1992). Pursuit of Truth. Harvard University Press.

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