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Professor Ralph Wedgwood (Oxford University) will be giving a talk today at the Oxford Moral Philosophy Seminar entitled ‘Instrumental Rationality.’ A copy of Ralph’s talk can be found here and a handout for his talk is here. Ralph would welcome any comments/suggestions. Here’s an abstract of his talk:

In this essay, I shall identify three aspects of practical rationality.
a. Adjusting one’s intentions to one’s beliefs or expectations about what courses of action are available.
b. Adjusting one’s intentions to one’s beliefs or expectation of the value or choiceworthiness of the course of action that will result from those intentions.
c. Integrating the various different intentions that one forms, in the course of piecemeal “small-worlds” practical reasoning, into a rational overall plan.
I shall argue that what is characteristic of instrumental reasoning is especially the third element. We engage in instrumental reasoning only because we reason in a piecemeal fashion, deciding first on the end and only later making up our minds about which means to use to achieve the end.


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