The limits of instrumental reason. Closing and opening the other.

As has been said in various places, and in this same site, the instrumental reason presents a number of limitations in both reason -that is, from the criterion of internal. In this entry we will discuss one of them.

From the point of view of a rational actor instrumental -according to the guidelines of rational choice– the only thing that interests a actor is adapting its means to the purposes that you have given. From that point of view, the other actors can only be treated as means -even if a rational actor incorporates within its purposes to another actor, once established for that purpose goes back to treating the other actor as a medium. These actors who each other are treated as media to interact, then, through exchanges and negotiations. In the self-understanding of this theory, then in this exchange each one gets benefits and that is why it occurs.

However, such self-understanding is limited because it gives no reason why an actor instrumentation you should want or try to negotiate and exchange when you relate with others. The sharing is, necessarily, a cost for the actor -he has to deliver something, and from their point of view it would be better to get something for nothing. Then, if you swap it because you have no other way of interacting with the other. But, in the extent that it is appropriate to remove those costs, and force the other actor to give something without receiving, will. The only thing that prevents it is the advisability of such action (the costs involved to force another actor vis-a-vis the benefits that you can get out of it), but there is nothing in the conception of the actor to avoid it.

In other words, from the perspective of the theory of the actor instrumental, the best thing that can happen is that the other is not an actor, in other words that it is indeed only an instrument of the original actor. In this sense, is a theory radically closed to the perspective of the other: the other can only be a cost to the actor. The will of another actor can only be a cost. In some sense, the instrumental action -like Sartre – poses that the hell are the others.

This allows us to better understand something that raised the principle: That even if the other is incorporated in the purposes, continues to operate as a medium. Because once the actor decides to incorporate the good of the other in their own end (‘I want you to be well’), you may decide to do a certain action or try to make the other person does, and it may well refuse. And this possibility of denial of the means established transforms in cost.

Now, does it make sense to only treat others as costs of the action? The actor’s instrumentation is, ultimately, an actor, a closed, self-referential. Now in itself the reference of the actor is not so problematic if we recognize that it is through the external relationship that ends of being completely (the self-reference is, shall we say, structural -is the structure that you set as it is affected an object by something external, but it would still be affected).

Let us consider the case of the recently deceased Gary Becker. In De Gustibus non est disputandum , 1977, written with Stigler emphasized tastes constituted an eternal and universal: everything could then be explained by the variables of the actor instrumental. Later qualified his statement, establishing as the tastes were produced -according to mechanisms that were, of course, that could be explained instrumentally. Beyond the correctness of their ideas, what interests us is that it is only through relationships with outsiders is that they were able, finally, to build the tastes of concrete -beyond the end self-referral of the permanent structures of the instrumentality.

And thought so, then it is relevant to establish the condition of possibility of permanent implies openness to the other: This is not the only cost to overcome but as a source of alternatives that would not be possible (or even pensables) for the actor considered in itself. The others are involved in actions, feelings, thoughts, etc, that far outstrip what each actor could give. And then, observe the other only as a cost to the achievement of the benefits individually designed is a way in which the actor is restricted to himself. Be open to the possibilities that others deliver -for good or for bad – is a form of empowerment of the own actor.

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