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Original scientific paper

Instrumental Reasoning Reconsidered

Georg Spielthenner

Full text: english pdf 580 Kb

page 59-76

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Since Aristotle it has been common among philosophers to distinguish between two fundamental types of reasoning, theoretical and practical. We do not only want to work out what is the case but also what we ought to do. This article offers a logical analysis of instrumental reasoning, which is the paradigm of practical reasoning. In the first section I discuss the major types of instrumental reasoning and show why the accounts of most authors are defective. On the basis of this discussion, I demonstrate in the second section that different types of normative conclusions are derivable from instrumental arguments and I show that it is an argument’s logical structure that determines what type of conclusion this is.


instrumental reasoning, practical reasoning, necessary condition reasoning, sufficient condition reasoning, practical arguments, practical inference

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