Two views of satisficing

Michael Slote

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

13 Scopus citations


The title of this essay should naturally put knowledgeable readers in mind of a certain kind of disagreement about the nature of (rational) satisficing. Many economists, philosophers, and others have held that satisficing makes sense only in relation to a larger overall maximizing or optimizing perspective, and on such a view it is rational to seek less than the best one can only if for example one is in circumstances where maximizing is impossible or where local satisficing is a means to overall optimality. For convenience, let us call this the instrumental conception of satisficing. It is also possible to conceive satisficing as sometimes being noninstrumentally rational, as a form of decision making that is sometimes, as we can say, inherently or intrinsically rational. This has been and still is decidedly the minority view on the rationality involved in satisficing, but the disagreement between those who maintain that all rational satisficing is instrumental and those who maintain that satisficing can sometimes be rational on non-instrumental or intrinsic grounds has been an interesting feature of the recent philosophical landscape.1 That interestingness may well be one reason for the existence of the present book, but I don’t propose to continue this particular debate in my contribution to this volume. In fact, I know of others who will be carrying it forward here, and I very much look forward to seeing what they have to say. What I want to do here is consider a rather different distinction having to do with satisficing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSatisficing and Maximizing
Subtitle of host publicationMoral Theorists on Practical Reason
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780511617058
ISBN (Print)0521010055, 9780521811491
StatePublished - Jan 1 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Two views of satisficing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this