Instrumentalism about practical reason: not by default

Philosophical Explorations 19 (1):17-27 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX


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.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 76,363

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Ends.Mark LeBar - 2004 - Social Theory and Practice 30 (4):507-533.
Humean Instrumentalism and the Motivational Capacity of Reason.Patrick Yarnell - 2002 - Journal of Philosophical Research 27:499-509.
Epistemic instrumentalism.Matthew Lockard - 2013 - Synthese 190 (9):1701-1718.
Instrumentalism, Objectivity, and Moral Justification.Adrian M. S. Piper - 1986 - American Philosophical Quarterly 23 (4):373 - 381.
Satisficing and optimality.Michael Byron - 1998 - Ethics 109 (1):67-93.
Was Hume a Humean?Elijah Millgram - 1995 - Hume Studies 21 (1):75-94.
Epistemic Instrumentalism and the Too Few Reasons Objection.Charles Côté-Bouchard - 2015 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 23 (3):337-355.
Morality, Inescapable Rational Authority, and a God's Wishes.Gerald K. Harrison - 2015 - Journal of Religious Ethics 43 (3):454-474.
Instrumentalism Revisited.Elliott Sober - 2001 - The Proceedings of the Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy 2001 (91):3 - 39.


Added to PP

54 (#220,229)

6 months
1 (#451,398)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

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.

View all 36 references / Add more references