Decision theory, understood as providing a normative account of rationality in action, is often thought to be an adequate formalization of instrumental reasoning. As a model, there is much to be said for it. However, if decision theory is to adequately account for correct instrumental reasoning, then the axiomatic conditions by which it links preference to action must be normative for choice. That is, a choice must be rationally defective unless it proceeds from a preference set that satisfies the axiomatic (...) conditions. -/- The crucial feature of standard decision theory for present purposes is that it conceives rational action as maximizing, as doing the best that one can in terms of satisfying one’s preferences. For maximizing to be possible, the preference set in question must completely order a person’s options. But I have argued elsewhere that that condition is often unmet by actual preference sets, so maximizing is not always available. Given that it is not, satisficing deserves attention, both as the most important alternative to maximizing and for the lessons it can yield with respect to goal-directed action. With those lessons in hand, standard maximizing decision theory is reconsidered, with the aim of showing that it does not adequately represent the normative distinction between means and ends. (shrink)
I develop a critique of Hume’s infamous problem of induction based upon the idea that the principle of induction (PI) is a normative rather than descriptive claim. I argue that Hume’s problem is a false dilemma, since the PI might be neither a “relation of ideas” nor a “matter of fact” but rather what I call a contingent normative statement. In this case, the PI could be justified by a means-ends argument in which the link between means (...) and end is established solely by deductive reasoning. The means-ends argument is an elementary result from formal learning theory that you must be willing to make inductive generalizations if you want to be logically reliable in the types of examples Hume described. This justification of the PI avoids both horns of Hume’s dilemma. Since no contradiction ensues from rejecting logical reliability as an aim, the PI is contingent. Yet since the proof concerning the PI and logical reliability is not based on inductive reasoning, there is no threat of circularity. (shrink)
There is a tradition, tracing back to Kant, of recasting metaphysical questions as questions about the utility of a conceptual scheme, linguistic framework, or methodological rule for achieving some particular end. Following in this tradition, I propose a ‘means-ends metaphysics’, in which one rigorously demonstrates the suitability of some conceptual framework for achieving a specified goal. I illustrate this approach using a debate about the nature of events. Specifically, the question is whether the time at which an event (...) occurs is an essential property of that event. I argue that this question is naturally transformed into a question about the methodology of causal modeling. In this new framework, the question concerns what kind of variables to use to represent the effects of potential interventions on a system. This question has a demonstrably correct answer, which sheds new light on the original question. (shrink)
This paper describes the corner-stones of a means-ends approach to the philosophy of inductive inference. I begin with a fallibilist ideal of convergence to the truth in the long run, or in the 'limit of inquiry'. I determine which methods are optimal for attaining additional epistemic aims (notably fast and steady convergence to the truth). Means-ends vindications of (a version of) Occam's Razor and the natural generalizations in a Goodmanian Riddle of Induction illustrate the power of (...) this approach. The paper establishes a hierarchy of means-ends notions of empirical success, and discusses a number of issues, results and applications of means-ends epistemology. (shrink)
This essay offers a start on sorting out the relationships of argumentation and persuasion by identifying two systematic ways in which definitions of argumentation differ, namely, their descriptions of the ends and of the means involved in argumentative discourse. Against that backdrop, the traditional “conviction-persuasion” distinction is reassessed. The essay argues that the traditional distinction correctly recognizes the difference between the end of influencing attitudes and that of influencing behavior—but that it misanalyzes the means of achieving the (...) latter (by focusing on emotional arousal) and that it mistakenly contrasts “rational” and “emotional” means of influence. The larger conclusion is that understanding the relationships of the phenomena of argumentation and persuasion will require close attention to characterizations of communicative ends and means. (shrink)
The question of what means-and-ends structure our epistemic endeavors have is an important issue in recent epistemology, and is fundamental for understanding epistemic matters in principle. Crispin Sartwell has proposed arguments for the view that knowledge is our only ultimate goal, and justification is no part of it. An important argument is his instrumentality argument which is concerned with the conditions under which something could belong to our ultimate epistemic goal. Recently, this argument has been reconstructed and criticized (...) by Pierre Le Morvan in a clear and helpful way. It will be shown, however, that Le Morvan’s criticism is not adequate, since it misconstrues the real instrumentality argument that can be found in Sartwell’s writings. (shrink)
This paper considers the often-expressed fear that medical research may use children merely as means, and not respect them as ends in themselves – especially insofar as they are deemed less able to consent than adults. The main focus is on large-scale genetic, socio-medical and epidemiological research. The theoretical starting point of the paper is that to be treated as an end in oneself is to be regarded as – and to act as – a participant in cooperative (...) endeavours. This participatory status is certainly connected with individual authority to consent and dissent; and there is no doubt that consent plays an important role when adults participate in many research projects. However, insofar as consent is located within structures of human cooperation, the authority to consent is not a straightforward privilege. Rather, consent is bound up with responsibility for one's choices and commitment to shared terms of cooperation. Given this understanding, it is argued that consent should not be our principal concern when we involve children in research. This is not because of children's (possible) incompetence to consent as such, but rather because children are still learning how to respect and assess the cooperative terms involved in our institutional lives. Instead, our leading concern should be with the terms regulating their involvement in research. Given suitable safeguards, research is one way in which children may learn what it is to bear responsibilities and to act as an end in oneself – that is, to cooperate with others on reasonable terms and for worthy ends. (shrink)
Goal-directed problem solving as originally advocated by Herbert Simon’s means-ends analysis model has primarily shaped the course of design research on artificially intelligent systems for problem-solving. We contend that there is a definite disregard of a key phase within the overall design process that in fact logically precedes the actual problem solving phase. While systems designers have traditionally been obsessed with goal-directed problem solving, the basic determinants of the ultimate desired goal state still remain to be fully understood (...) or categorically defined. We propose a rational framework built on a set of logically inter-connected conjectures to specifically recognize this neglected phase in the overall design process of intelligent systems for practical problem-solving applications. (shrink)
[Although research in wildlife management is repeating the history of agriculture, unlike agricultural research, which employs scientific means for economic ends, the ends of wildlife research are judged in terms of aesthetic satisfactions as governed by “good taste.” Wild animals and plants are economically valuable only in the sense that human performers and works of art are: the means are of the brain, but the ends are of the heart. Wildlife management has forged ahead of (...) agriculture in recognizing the invisible interdependencies in the biotic community. Moreover, it has admitted its inability to replace natural equilibria and its unwillingness to do so even if it could. Because many animals do not exhibit their natural behavior under laboratory conditions, researchers are dependent on observation in the wild. The difficulties involved in isolating variables are especially clear in the study of the natural cycle. It is a problem which seems to defy the experimental method.]. (shrink)
The paper analyses results from a questionnaire-based survey of ethical behavior of members of the Western Australian Senior Executive Service. Relating to definitions of deontology (duty) and teleology (ends over means) the study examines the validity of three hypotheses on ethical behaviour/decision making frameworks. Longitudinal data is related to the 1983–90WA Inc period. The study establishes that SES managers apply ethical frameworks in order to understand the meaning of: ethical behaviour and that there are groups of managers with (...) distinct understandings of what constitutes ethical behavior which is reflective of particular ethics theories. Three groups of managers are identified: (1) emphasises teleology (2) focuses on external influences (rules, standards and codes) and (3) encompasses both teleology and external influences and, to a lesser extent deontology. Only this latter group is regarded as having an appropriate repertoire of potential responses to any given ethical dilemma. There is no support for the view that those beginning employment in the public service post 1984 adversely affected the ethical decision making frameworks of other senior managers. (shrink)
American democracy is not unconstrained or autonomous, but instead achieves what could be termed value representation. Rather than affording representation on policy issues, elections transmit priorities among competing normative ends, while elite politics address the more complex matching of ends and means within the value boundaries established by voters. This results in neither policy representation nor state autonomy, but instead in a specific and limited form of democratic representation.
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. (shrink)
In this essay I first provide a brief explanation of the principle of double effect (PDE) and the propositions that it entails regarding the distinction betweenintention and foresight (I/F distinction) and the distinction’s relevance to ethical evaluation. Then I address several recent critiques of PDE and the I/F distinctionby influential ethicists including Judith Jarvis Thomson, Tom Beauchamp and James Childress, and Jonathan Bennett. I argue that none of these critiques issuccessful. In the process of refuting the critiques, I also give (...) prima facie reason to believe that the I/F distinction is relevant to evaluation of agents and their actions and that PDE is a defensible ethical principle. (shrink)
Propositional dynamic logic (PDL) provides a natural setting for semantics of means-end relations involving non-determinism, but such models do not include probabilistic features common to much practical reasoning involving means and ends. We alter the semantics for PDL by adding probabilities to the transition systems and interpreting dynamic formulas 〈α〉 ϕ as fuzzy predicates about the reliability of α as a means to ϕ. This gives our semantics a measure of efficacy for means-end relations.
During the latter half of the twentieth century political realism dominated national and international landscapes. The twenty-first century has seen the rise of neo‐conservatism, what Charles Krauthammer has called “democratic realism” and what others see as a re-birth of Wilsonianism—making the world safe for democracy. Robert M. Gates, U.S. Secretary of Defense, in a speech on Sept. 17, 2007 in Williamsburg, VA, at the World Forum on the Future of Democracy, acknowledged these different strains of current U.S. policy, saying that (...) “once again [people are] talking about the competing impulses in U.S. foreign policy: realism versus idealism, freedom versus security, values versus interests.” These competing concerns—but especially fear about terrorism coupled with asense of retributive justice—have divided much of the world. Nonetheless, it is clear that no matter what terms one gives to domestic and foreign policies, they are all in one way or another mired in the attitude that the end justifies the means, an attitude that will remain both morally and politically bankrupt until such time as people, policies, and programs embrace the concept of principled nonviolence, if not principled nonviolence itself. (shrink)
This chapter provides the teleological foundations for our analysis of guidance to goal. Its objective is to ground goal-directedness genetically. The basic suggestion is this. Organisms are small things, with few energy resources and puny physical means, battling a ruthless physical and biological nature. How do they manage to survive and multiply? CLEVERLY, BY ORGANIZING.
How is epistemic justification related to knowledge? Is it, as widely thought, constitutive of knowledge? Is it merely a means to knowledge, or merely a means to something else, such as truth? In a recent article in this journal, Hofmann (2005, Synthese, 146(3), 357–369) addresses these questions in attempting to defend an important argument articulated by Sartwell (1992, The Journal of Philosophy, 89(4), 167–180) and reconstructed and criticized by Le Morvan (2002, Erkenntnis: An International Journal of Analytic Philosophy, (...) 56(2), 151–168). This Sartwellian argument purported to show that, since epistemic justification is of merely instrumental value, it is not constitutive of knowledge. In this paper, I argue that Hofmann’s defense of Sartwell fails, but that its failure brings to light some important lessons concerning the nature of justification and its relationship to truth and knowledge. (shrink)
Aristotle's distinction between the practical life and the contemplative life has been of central importance in fixing the sort of justification that is required for engineering activity. As practical it must be justified by its products, while intellect's activity claims intrinsic worth. Most philosophers of technology accept this model of justification. However, engineering is not essentially practical in the relevant sense. To claim that it is overlooks a distinction between "structuring ends" and "products" which when made allows engineering to (...) lay claim to the same sort of value as intellectual activity. The final conclusion is that both have intrinsic worth but that does not free either from the obligation to look to their consequences. (shrink)
How is epistemic justification related to knowledge? Is it, as widely thought, constitutive of knowledge? Is it merely a means to knowledge, or merely a means to something else, such as truth? In a recent article in this journal, Hofmann (2005, "Synthese," 146(3), 357—369) addresses these questions in attempting to defend an important argument articulated by Sartwell (1992, "The Journal of Philosophy," 89(4), 167—180) and reconstructed and criticized by Le Morvan (2002, "Erkenntnis: An International Journal of Analytic Philosophy," (...) 56(2), 151—168). This Sartwellian argument purported to show that, since epistemic justification is of merely instrumental value, it is not constitutive of knowledge. In this paper, I argue that Hofmann's defense of Sartwell fails, but that its failure brings to light some important lessons concerning the nature of justification and its relationship to truth and knowledge. (shrink)
Over the last few years, in part due to the political impact of terrorist activities, the debate on the moral significance of torture as a useful means of obtaining information from enemy combatants has arisen with an urgency not seen in many years. Stressing the importance of exceptional cases, the defenders of torture attempt to justify its acceptance by and back its use in the judicial system of Western democracies. Yet what is at stake here are the basic moral (...) principles—especially that of human dignity-on which our political convictions rest. Admitting of exceptions would change the value of these principles: what once werefixed guidelines for acceptable action now become alterable according to specific political demands, thus making torture into a morally neutral act. The current defence of torture in the West may be a symptom of the progressive absolutization of the State. (shrink)
The recent trend toward privately owned and operated prisons calls attention to a variety of issues involving human rights. The growing number of corporatized correctional institutions is especially notable in the United States, but it is also a global phenomenon in many countries. The reasons cited for privatizing prisons are usually economic; the opportunity to outsource prison services enables local political leaders to save tax revenue, and local communities are promised a chance to create new jobs and bring in a (...) new industry. This article will address the history of prisons and the recent trend toward privatizing prisons and the perception of prisons as a for-proﬁt enterprise. This new economic order brings with it a set of human rights concerns, including the relationship of for-proﬁt prisons to increased numbers of incarcerated persons and increased sentences, racism and classism. The contractual relationship between political leaders and prison corporations will be addressed, noting that conditions of liability frequently mean that prison administrations lack motivation to safeguard the human rights of prisoners. The human rights issues often extend outside of the private prison itself, having a negative effect on the local community. (shrink)
Norman Geras argues for the incorporation of elements from the just war tradition into the ethics of social change. But this does not go far enough. In this paper I argue for a prefigurative constraint: that action intended to bring about social transformation ought to prefigure that transformation, and bear those properties of the future state of affairs that make the future state of affairs morally valuable. I defend the idea of a prefigurative constraint against some objections and introduce a (...) schema to relate political action to morally valuable end states. (shrink)
In the last half century, decision theory has had a deep influence on moral theory. Its impact has largely been beneficial. However, it has also given rise to some problems, two of which are discussed here. First, issues such as risk-taking and risk imposition have been left out of ethics since they are believed to belong to decision theory, and consequently the ethical aspects of these issues have not been treated in either discipline. Secondly, ethics has adopted the decision-theoretical idea (...) that action-guidance has to be based on cause–effect or means–ends relationships between an individual action and its possible outcomes. This is problematic since the morally relevant connections between an action and future events are not fully covered by such relationships. In response to the first problem it is proposed that moral theory should deal directly and extensively with issues such as risk-taking and risk imposition, thereby intruding unabashedly into the traditional territory of decision theory. As a partial response to the second problem it is proposed that moral theorizing should release itself from the decision-theoretical requirement that the moral status of an action has to be derivable from the consequences (or other properties) that are assignable to that action alone. In particular, the effects that an action can have in combination with other actions by the same or other agents are valid arguments in an action-guiding moral discourse, even if its contribution to these combined consequences cannot be isolated and evaluated separately. (shrink)
Henry Richardson argues that we can determine our ends rationally. He constructs a rich and original theory of how we can reason about our final goals. Richardson defuses the counter-arguments for the limits of rational deliberation, and develops interesting ideas about how his model might be extended to interpersonal deliberation of ends, taking him to the borders of political theory. Along the way Richardson offers illuminating discussions of, inter alia, Aristotle, Aquinas, Sidgwick, and Dewey, as well as the (...) work of several contemporary philosophers. (shrink)
The principle of proportionality is used in many different contexts. Some of these uses and contexts are first briefly indicated. This paper focusses on the use of this principle as a moral principle. I argue that under certain conditions the principle of proportionality is helpful as a guide in decision-making. But it needs to be clarified and to be used with some flexibility as a context-dependent principle. Several interpretations of the principle are distinguished, using three conditions as a starting point: (...) importance of objective, relevance of means, and most favourable option. The principle is then tested against an example, which suggests that a fourth condition, focusing on non-excessiveness, needs to be added. I will distinguish between three main interpretations of the principle, some primarily with uses in research ethics, others with uses in other areas of bioethics, for instance in comparisons of therapeutic means and ends. The relations between the principle of proportionality and the precautionary principle are explored in the following section. It is concluded that the principles are different and may even clash. In the next section the principle of proportionality is applied to some medical examples drawn from research ethics and bioethics. In concluding, the status of the principle of proportionality as a moral principle is discussed. What has been achieved so far and what remains to be done is finally summarized. (shrink)
In this paper I question the tendency within some feminist circles to criticise attempts to develop typologies that delineate different feminist theoretical perspectives. I agree that many of the criticisms are valid, but only if typologies are viewed in a particular way. This particular way is when typologies are regarded as ahistorical, all-encompassing entities containing discrete categories that are designed for the once and for all fixing of individuals and their work in one box. Reading Max Weber through Karl Mannheim's (...) work on the sociology of knowledge, I argue that typologies, as ideal-types, are indispensable, socially situated practical tools for measuring similarities, differences and developments in thought within and across time and space. Despite being noted as an “attractive” argument by at least some of those who are otherwise critical of typologies (for example, Liz Stanley and Sue Wise), I believe that the “attractiveness” of this particular position has not been granted serious consideration. (shrink)
The ethical decision making process behind the treatment of missing data has yet to be examined in the research literature in any discipline. The purpose of the current paper is to begin to discuss this decision-making process in view of a Foucauldian framework. The paper suggests how the ethical treatment of missing data should be considered from the adoption of this theoretical framework.
This paper pursues a thorough-going instrumentalist, or means-ends, approach to the theory of inductive inference. I consider three epistemic aims: convergence to a correct theory, fast convergence to a correct theory and steady convergence to a correct theory (avoiding retractions). For each of these, two questions arise: (1) What is the structure of inductive problems in which these aims are feasible? (2) When feasible, what are the inference methods that attain them? Formal learning theory provides the tools for (...) a complete set of answers to these questions. As an illustration of the results, I apply means-ends analysis to various versions of Goodman's Riddle of Induction. (shrink)
Abstract According to the principles derived from his theory of discourse ethics, Habermas's model of deliberative democracy is justified only if the public is capable of making political decisions that advance the common good. Recent public?opinion research demonstrates that the public's overwhelming ignorance of politics precludes it from having such capabilities, even if radical measures were taken to thoroughly educate the public about politics or to increase the salience of politics in their lives.