There is a strong tradition among land‐use planners to conceive of their task as one of inserting rationality into public decision making. The idea of the rational selection of ends as well as means makes land‐use planners reluctant to take goals as given even if they insist on a difference between planning and politics. A retrospective outline shows how three prominent planning theorists handle the controversial question of rational ends. By applying Habermas’ communicative rationality and the bounded/unbounded distinction, the range of rationality concepts becomes sufficiently wide to serve as a basis for classifying most popular planning modes. With multiple forms of rationality, some new problems arise. How are we, for instance, to rationally choose among forms of rationality in a given situation, and how can the various forms be applied simultaneously?
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