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Rational Powers in ActionInstrumental Rationality and Extended Agency$
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Sergio Tenenbaum

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780198851486

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2020

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198851486.001.0001

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Pursuing Ends as the Fundamental Given Attitude

Pursuing Ends as the Fundamental Given Attitude

(p.49) 3 Pursuing Ends as the Fundamental Given Attitude
Rational Powers in Action

Sergio Tenenbaum

Oxford University Press

The extended theory of instrumental rationality (ETR) takes the intentional pursuit of ends to be the only relevant attitude for the theory of instrumental rationality, and takes the principle of instrumental reasoning, a non-comparative principle, to be the only principle of derivation. However, it seems that if the agent has more than one end, we’ll need to introduce comparative or graded attitudes, such as the preference orderings in orthodox decision theory, in order to explain the rationality of choices among competing ends. In fact, ETR can provide a significantly better account of how a rational agent pursues multiple indeterminate ends through time than theories that make use of comparative and graded attitudes. ETR proposes that in the pursuit of such ends a rational agent must inevitably “satisfice” rather than maximize. At the same time, the chapter explains how some comparative attitudes, such as preferences, can be incorporated into ETR.

Keywords:   decision theory, satisficing, practical rationality, preferences, desires, intentional action, maximization

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