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Oxford Studies in MetaethicsVolume 6$
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Russ Shafer-Landau

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199606375

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199606375.001.0001

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Instrumental Rationality 1

Instrumental Rationality 1

Chapter:
(p.280) 12 Instrumental Rationality1
Source:
Oxford Studies in Metaethics
Author(s):

Ralph Wedgwood

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199606375.003.0012

This chapter offers an account of ‘instrumental rationality’, by clarifying (a) the nature of instrumental reasoning, and (b) what it is to do instrumental reasoning in a rational way. Joseph Raz was wrong to claim that instrumental rationality is a ‘myth’ (although some philosophers have been seduced by myths about instrumental rationality); the accounts of John Broome and Kieran Setiya cover only a small fraction of instrumental reasoning; and orthodox decision theory involves idealizing assumptions that prevent it from having anything to say about instrumental reasoning. In fact, instrumental reasoning exemplifies a more general phenomenon: because we make decisions in a piecemeal way, we have to integrate these decisions together. To do this rationally, one’s intentions must make it rational for one to have a certain sort of expectation that one will carry out one’s intentions, and that this will result in one’s acting in a suitably valuable way.

Keywords:   rationality, instrumental reasoning, decision theory, practical reason, intention

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