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date: 21 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Often our reason for doing something is an “instrumental reason”: that doing that is a means to doing something else that we have reason to do. What principles govern this “instrumental transmission” of reasons from ends to means? Negatively, I argue against principles often invoked in the literature, which focus on necessary or sufficient means. Positively, I propose a principle, “General Transmission,” which answers to two intuitive desiderata: that reason transmits to means that are “probabilizing” and “nonsuperfluous” with respect to the relevant end. I then apply General Transmission to the debate over “detachment”: whether “wide-scope” reason for a material conditional or disjunction implies “narrow-scope” reason for the consequent or disjuncts.

Keywords: reason, rationality, means, ends, instrumental

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