Instrumental Rationality: The Normativity of Means-Ends Coherence

ISBN : 9780198746935

John Brunero
240 Pages
153 x 234 mm
Pub date
Feb 2020
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Rationality requires that we intend the means that we believe are necessary for achieving our ends. Instrumental Rationality explores the formulation and status of this requirement of means-ends coherence. In particular, it is concerned with understanding what means-ends coherence requires of us as believers and agents, and why.

Means-ends coherence is a genuine requirement of rationality and cannot be explained away as a myth, confused with a disjunction of requirements to have, or not have, specific attitudes. Nor is means-ends coherence strongly normative, such that we always ought to be means-ends coherent. A promising strategy for assessing why this requirement should exist is to consider the constitutive aim of intention. Just as belief has a constitutive aim (truth) that can explain some of the theoretical requirements of consistency and coherence governing beliefs, intention has a constitutive aim (here called "controlled action") that can explain some of the requirements of consistency and coherence governing intentions. We can therefore better understand means-ends coherence by understanding the constitutive aims of both of the attitudes governed by the requirement, intention, and belief.


1 Introduction

2 Bootstrapping

3 Scope

4 Normativity I

5 Normativity II

6 Belief

7 Intention

8 Conclusion

About the author: 

John Brunero is the Robert R. Chambers Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Nebraska - Lincoln. He received his Ph.D. from Columbia University, and was a Rockefeller Visiting Faculty Fellow at the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University. He has published in Philosophical Studies, Philosophical Quarterly, Oxford Studies in Metaethics, and Ethics.

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