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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

(p.280) 12 Instrumental Rationality1
Oxford Studies in Metaethics

Ralph Wedgwood

Oxford University Press

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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