Instrumentalism about practical reason: not by default

Philosophical Explorations 19 (1):17-27 (2016)
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Abstract

Instrumentalism is the view that all requirements of practical reason can be derived from the instrumental principle, that is, from the claim that one ought to take the suitable means to one's ends. Rationalists, by contrast, hold that there are requirements of practical reason that concern the normative acceptability of ends. To the extent that rationalists put forward these requirements in addition to the instrumental principle, rationalism might seem to go beyond instrumentalism in its normative commitments. This is why it is sometimes thought that rationalism is stronger than instrumentalism in a way that entails that instrumentalism is the default view, while rationalists carry the burden of proof. In this paper, I explore and discuss different ways of spelling out this idea. I argue that rationalism is not stronger than instrumentalism in a way that has implications for matters of justification and differences in prima facie defensibility of the two sorts of views.

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Thomas Schmidt
Humboldt University, Berlin

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
The Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1797/1996 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Slaves of the Passions.Mark Schroeder - 2007 - Oxford University Press.

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