Saturday, September 24, 2016

Pursuit of victory

I wonder if it's rational to choose to play a game precisely in order to win. Winning is a practice-internal goal. Does this goal make sense when one isn't already decided on playing the game? Of course people do choose to play in order to win. But I wonder if those aren't cases where the victory is a means to something else, like money, fame or satisfaction?

7 comments:

Brandon said...

All goals seem to be practice-internal with respect to some practice. Money doesn't make sense as a goal unless you are already set on engaging in the relevant practices that make it a goal, for instance, and similar things can certainly be said of fame.

Alexander R Pruss said...

Money makes sense as a instrumental goal even if you aren't engaging in any financial practices, because you can foresee that if you engage in the financial practice you will get money and you can then exchange money for wisdom (say, by buying books). Likewise, victory makes sense as an instrumental goal when you're not playing.

However, victory makes sense as a non-instrumental goal when you are playing. But money never makes sense as a non-instrumental goal.

Dax Bennington said...

I seems like victory can be rational as a non-instrumental goal, but could tend towards vice quickly if it is the only reason for engaging in a game.

Michael Gonzalez said...

Does a goal have to be "instrumental" in order to be rational?

Alexander R Pruss said...

Michael:

No.

Michael Gonzalez said...

Then why think the pursuit of a victory at something (for the sheer joy of it) needs to be a means to something else in order for it to be rational. In any case, in my experience, competitive people are seeking status among their peers and so enter into a competition with the goal of winning and thus climbing or retaining their place on the hierarchy, so to speak. I wonder, though, if that desire for status is rational....

Alexander R Pruss said...

Maybe a practice-internal goal is only conditionally valuable: if one were to engage in the practice, the practice-internal goal would be valuable, but independently of engaging in the practice, the goal isn't valuable.

We all play "the human game". Status in that game can be won by being a chess champion. So one might choose to play chess in order to gain status in "the human game". But then the victory in chess is a constitutive means to status in "the human game".