Means-ends rationality and categorical imperatives in empirical inquiry
Graduate studies at Western
|Abstract||Kant taught us that there are two kinds of norms: Categorical imperatives that one ought to follow regardless of one's personal aims and circumstances, and hypothetical imperatives that direct us to employ the means towards our chosen ends. Kant's distinction separates two approaches to normative epistemology. On the one hand, we have principles of "inductive rationality", typically supported by considerations such as intuitive plausibility, conformity with exemplary practice, and internal consistency. On the other hand, we may assess rules for forming belief by how well they attain the objectives that motivate inquiry; in Levi's words, "the ends of inquiry control the legitimacy of inferences" [Levi 67, p. 241]. A doctrinaire attitude would ignore one of these perspectives in favour of the other; a balanced approach is to develop both and compare [cf. Helmann 97, Sec.2]. There are three possible relationships between hypothetical and categorical imperatives for empirical inquiry.|
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