Are humans rational? Various experiments performed over the last several decades have been interpreted as showing that humans are irrational we make significant and consistent errors in logical reasoning, probabilistic reasoning, similarity judgements, and risk-assessment, to name a few areas. But can these experiments establish human irrationality, or is it a conceptual truth that humans must be rational, as various philosophers have argued?
In this book, Edward Stein offers a clear critical account of this debate about rationality in philosophy and cognitive science. He discusses concepts of rationality - the pictures of rationality
that the debate centres on - and assesses the empirical evidence used to argue that humans are irrational. He concludes that the question of human rationality must be answered not conceptually but empirically, using the full resources of an advanced cognitive science. Furthermore, he extends this conclusion to argue that empirical considerations are also relevant to the theory of knowedge - in other words, that epistemology should be naturalized. from the reviews:
'Stein has done a great service in bringing together all of the important arguments in the human rationality debate and providing a measured critical assessment of them. . . . This
will be an important book and is essential reading for epistemologists, philosophers of mind, and cognitive and evolutionary psychologists.' Choice 'very considerable value . . . for professionals' Times Higher Education Supplement
`The whole book is written in a clear, lively and enjoyable style. It is carefully-argued throughout ... it is an excellent attempt at a synoptic cognitivist account of the philosophical implications of the experimental investigation of human rationality. I strongly recommend it to lecturers and students of the philosophy of mind and cognition as the best comprehensive survey of the literature on rationality.'
John Preston, University of Reading
`The book contains a particularly clear apraisal - the best in the literature, I thought - of arguments for the rationality thesis from the "principle of Charity". (C. 4), as well as a careful, thorough and sophisticated examination of the arguments which portray the rationality thesis as the ... outcome of evolution by natural selection ... The whole book is written in a clear, lively and enjoyable style. It is carefully-argued throughout ... I strongly
recommend it to lecturers and students of the philosophy of mind and cognition as the best comprehensive survey of the literature on rationality.'
John Preston, Mind
3: Psychological Evidence.
5: Reflective Equilibrium
7: The Standard Picture