Philosophical Studies

, Volume 174, Issue 6, pp 1365–1384 | Cite as

How to think about satisficing

  • Chris TuckerEmail author


An agent submaximizes with motivation when she aims at the best but chooses a less good option because of a countervailing consideration. An agent (radically) satisfices when she rejects the better for the good enough, and does so because the mere good enough gets her what she really wants. Motivated submaximization and satisficing, so construed, are different ways of choosing a suboptimal option, but this difference is easily missed. Putative proponents of satisficing tend to argue only that motivated submaximization can be appropriate while critics of satisficing tend to criticize satisficing, as I construe it. The existing literature, then, leaves (radical) satisficing in a very bad state: there are no good arguments for it and there are three unanswered objections to it. This paper (1) clarifies the distinction between motivated submaximization and satisficing and (2) refutes the three most prominent objections to the claim that satisficing can be appropriate.


Satisficing Motivated submaximization Requiring/justifying distinction Buridan’s ass Consequentialism Nonconsequentialism 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyCollege of William and MaryWilliamsburgUSA

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