Instrumental desires, instrumental rationality

Supplement to the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 78 (1):93-109 (2004)
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Abstract

The requirements of instrumental rationality are often thought to be normative conditions on choice or intention, but this is a mistake. Instrumental rationality is best understood as a requirement of coherence on an agent's non-instrumental desires and means-end beliefs. Since only a subset of an agent's means-end beliefs concern possible actions, the connection with intention is thus more oblique. This requirement of coherence can be satisfied either locally or more globally, it may be only one among a number of such requirements on an agent's total set of desires and beliefs, and it has no special connection with reasoning. An appreciation of these facts leads to a better understanding of both the nature and the significance of instrumental rationality.

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Michael Smith
Manchester Metropolitan University

Citations of this work

Instrumental Rationality.John Brunero & Niko Kolodny - 2013 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
Coherence as Joint Satisfiability.Samuel Fullhart & Camilo Martinez - forthcoming - Australasian Journal of Philosophy.
Motor imagery and action execution.Bence Nanay - 2020 - Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy.
Reply to Bratman and Smith.Kieran Setiya - 2009 - Analysis 69 (3):531-540.
Acting Intentionally and Acting for a Reason.Maria Alvarez - 2009 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 52 (3):293-305.

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