Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 487–503 | Cite as

The Normative Requirement of Means-End Rationality and Modest Bootstrapping



“Myth theorists” have recently called the normative requirement of means-end rationality into question. I show that we can accept certain lessons from the Myth Theorists and also salvage our intuition that there is a normative requirement of means-end rationality. I argue that any appeal to a requirement to make our attitudes coherent as such is superfluous and unnecessary in order to vindicate the requirement of means-end rationality and also avoid the problematic conclusion that persons ought to take the means to whatever ends they happen to intend.


Practical rationality Instrumental rationality Autonomy Bootstrapping 



I am especially grateful to Tamar Schapiro for her time and many discussions. I would also like to thank Michael Bratman, Luca Ferrero, Paul Hurley, Nadeem Hussain, and Niko Kolodny for helpful discussions. An early version of this paper was presented to an audience at the 2011 Pacific Division Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, and two Referees of this journal also provided valuable comments on previous drafts. Part of the research for this paper was undertaken while I was a Geballe Fellow in residence at the Stanford Humanities Center.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyStanford UniversityStanfordUSA

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