, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 299-316
Date: 03 Dec 2009

Problems for Broome’s Cognitivist Account of Instrumental Reasoning

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In this paper, I examine an account of instrumental reasoning recently put forth by John Broome. His key suggestion is that anyone who engages in reasoning about his intentions also believes that he will do what he intends to do and that combined with a belief about necessary means this creates rational pressure towards believing that one will take the necessary means. I argue that Broome’s model has three significant problems; his key premise is false—the sincere expression of an intention does not entail the belief that one will successfully execute that intention; his account yields a model of instrumental reasoning that is uncomfortably reflective; he seems unable to explain the rational pressure towards taking necessary means that arises directly from having an end and an instrumental belief. All three problems, I argue, are a consequence of Broome’s inadequate position on what it is to intend to do something.