/ Normativity, Commitment, and Instrumental Reason
On the other hand, it seems undeniable that agents can display a kind of instrumental rationality in the pursuit of ends that they do not themselves endorse, when for instance they are in the grip of akrasia. People sometimes exhibit great intelligence and skill in executing plans that they view as dubious or questionable—think, for instance, of the extraordinary talent many of us display at procrastinating when it comes to tasks that we regard as worthy but difficult. It seems plausible to regard this kind of intelligence—cleverness, as we might call it—as a form of instrumental rationality, relative to the ends that we are in fact pursuing. This verdict, however, conflicts with the moralizing tendency in our reflection about the instrumental principle, since the cases at issue are precisely ones in which people do not endorse the ends they are pursuing as good or worthwhile on the whole. There thus appears to be a latent tension in our thinking about instrumental rationality.
Top of page Top of page