Most discussion of the instrumental rule assumes an interpretation on which it says to intend means which I believe are necessary to my end and asks about its normative status. I will present a view of practical reason, prominent among recent work in practical philosophy inspired by Kant and Aristotle, on which practical reason is our type of will rather than a distinct intellectual capacity whose exercises influence those of our will when all goes well. I shall then explain how if this view of practical reason is correct, the proper interpretation of the instrumental rule says to take actually sufficient means to my end rather than to intend means I believe necessary for my end. This essay thus spells out certain central aspects of contemporary Kantian and Aristotelian work on human agency and thereby reveals how assumptions about the nature of practical reason have shaped the extant discussion of the instrumental rule.
Members of the audience are invited to join the speaker and the convenor for drinks and dinner at a local restaurant following the talk (at their own expense). There will obviously be some limit on the number of people who can attend. Those who wish to attend a particular dinner should write to Ed Lamb in advance to reserve a place. Please note that we will no longer be going to dinner afterwards at Somerville College to continue questioning the speaker. In future terms I may bring the time of the seminar forward to 3 – 5pm which would make it possible for all to go to pre-dinner drinks. Please let me know if this change of time would make you more or less likely to attend.