A new argument against the instrumental conception of epistemic rationality

Abstract

According to the Instrumental Conception of Epistemic Rationality believing rationally is believing in such a way so as to best satisfy one’s cognitive goals. I provide a novel argument against the Instrumental Conception on the basis of an unnoticed phenomenon I call “rational preemption.” You can now revise your plans and actions rationally in order to preempt or prevent foreseeable future irrationality. However, you cannot now revise your beliefs rationally in order to preempt or prevent foreseeable future irrationality. The ability to be preemptively practically rational in your actions and plans, but not preemptively epistemically rational in your beliefs, implies that epistemic rationality is not a species of practical rationality, and thus, ICER is false. (Word Count: 2100).

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Barry Lam
Vassar College

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