Dans le cadre des midis de l’éthique du CRÉ, Chrisoula Andreou nous offre une présentation intitulée: « The Real Puzzle of the Self-Torturer: Uncovering a New Dimension of Instrumental Rationality ».
Warren Quinn’s puzzle of the self-torturer raises intriguing questions concerning rationality, cyclic preferences, and resoluteness. Interestingly, what makes the puzzle of the self-torturer puzzling has not been clearly pinpointed. The puzzle, it seems, is that a series of rational choices foreseeably leads the self-torturer to an option that serves his preferences worse than the one with which he started. But this is a very misleading way of casting the puzzle raised by the case of the self-torturer. My aim in this paper is to pinpoint the real puzzle of the self-torturer and, in the process, reveal a neglected but crucial dimension of instrumental rationality. I will show that the subjective responses that instrumental rationality is responsive and accountable to are not just the agent’s preferences. Our subjective responses include appraisals that do not qualify as preferences—appraisals associated with a rational requirement that can, in theory and in practice, justify an agent’s sometimes purposely acting against his preference(s) regarding the options among which he must currently choose.