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means-ends reasoning


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natural law theory

David Hume (1711—1776) philosopher and historian

Max Weber (1864—1920) German economist and sociologist

 

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Working out how to adapt means to ends is one characteristic function of reason. The controversial claim, associated with Hume and Weber, is that such instrumental or technical rationality exhausts the place of reason in practical affairs. On such an account, questions of ends are not subject to reason, but are non-rational matters of emotion or desire; reason therefore cannot adjudicate between conflicting ends, but only tell us how to achieve them. To many the equation of reason with instrumental reasoning is a symptom of industrial, technical societies. See also disenchantment, natural law theory.

Subjects: Philosophy.


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