Global optimality may sometimes require us to do other than what seems optimific within the confines of a moment. Holistic rationality, as I envisage it, tells us to adopt a broader view, transcending the boundaries of the present and identifying with a timeless perspective instead. It further requires that we be willing to treat the dictates of this broader perspective as rationally authoritative, no matter how disadvantageous this may seem from the particular perspective of the present moment. This amounts to an intrapersonal analogue of the ‘social contract’: each of our momentary stages abdicates some degree of rational autonomy, in order to enhance the rationality and autonomy of our person as a whole.
I initially thought this mapped onto the distinction between 'direct' and 'indirect' rationality, where the former perspective is effectively limited to considering only immediate evidence and first-order judgments. But that's not quite right. The local perspective of a momentary person-stage can (and should) let higher-order judgments of reliability influence their present expected utility judgments, and thus metacoherence should lead them to embrace an "all things considered" indirect strategy even within the confines of the moment.
The local/global distinction is better illustrated by the sorts of rational "paradoxes" which suggest trouble for the former perspective:
Pollock’s Ever Better Wine improves with age, without limit. Suppose you possess a bottle, and are also immortal. When should you drink the wine? Local rationality implies that you should never drink it, for at any given time you would do better to postpone it another day. But to never drink it at all is the worst possible result! Or consider Quinn’s Self-Torturer, who receives $10,000 each time he increases his pain level by an indiscernible increment. It sounds like a deal worth taking. But suppose that the combined effect of a thousand increments would leave him in such agony that no amount of money could compensate. Because each individual increment is - from the local perspective of the moment - worth taking, local rationality will again lead one to the worst possible result.
A good result is only possible for agents who are willing to let their global perspective override local calculations. The agent must make in advance a rational resolution to stop at some stage n, even though from the local perspective of stage n he would do better to continue on to stage n+1. It seems clear that the global perspective is rationally preferable. The agent can foresee the outcomes of his possible choices. If he endorses the local mode of reasoning then he will never stop, and so will end up with the worst possible outcome. It cannot be rational to accept this when other options are open to him. If he is instead resolute and holds firm to the choice - made from a global or timeless perspective - to stop at stage n, then he will do much better.
I find something intuitively appealing about the idea that persons can abstract away from their particular momentary stage, and make decisions from a 'timeless' perspective instead. This holistic approach seems to ascribe a greater unity to persons than one finds in the standard atomistic view which pits our past and future stages against each other, as if they were wholly distinct and independent agents. Better to identify the agent as the whole, temporally extended person, and have each of our momentary selves conceive of themselves as mere parts of the whole, contributing to this "higher cause" without the presumption of total momentary autonomy -- we should have greater respect for our past reasons than that. In turn, it enables a stronger trust in one's future stages.