Intention and prediction in means-end reasoning

Stephen John White*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


How, if at all, does one's intention to realize an end bear on the justification for taking the means to that end? Theories that allow that intending an end directly provides a reason to take the means are subject to a well-known "bootstrapping" objection. On the other hand, "anti-psychologistic" accounts-which seek to derive instrumental reasons directly from the reasons that support adopting the end itself-have unacceptable implications where an agent faces multiple rationally permissible options. An alternative, predictive, role for intention in means-end reasoning is considered and rejected. A new proposal is then developed, according to which instrumental reasons are not merely reasons to perform an act necessary for a given end, but to perform the act for the sake of that end.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)251-266
Number of pages16
JournalAmerican Philosophical Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


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