Three fallacies in the rationality debate obscure the possibility for reconciling the opposed camps. I focus on how these fallacies arise in the view that subjects interpret their task differently from the experimenters (owing to the influence of conversational expectations). The themes are: first, critical assessment must start from subjects' understanding; second, a modal fallacy; and third, fallacies of distribution.
Decision theory seems to offer a very attractive normative framework for individual and social choice under uncertainty. The decisionmaker should think of her choice situation, at any given moment, in terms of a set of possible outcomes, that is, specifications of the possible consequences of choice, described in light of the decisionmaker's goals; a set of possible actions; and a "state set" consisting of possible prior "states of the world." It is this framework for choice which provides the foundation for (...) expected utility theory, as demonstrated in the work of Leonard Savage. Problems arise, however, when the decisionmaker is boundedly rational: when the mental process of thinking about outcomes, actions, and states is itself expensive and time consuming. In the case of the unboundedly rational decisionmaker, decision theory enjoins her to employ maximally specific outcomes; to consider all possible actions; and to use a set of mutually exclusive and collective exhaustive states, each of which is sufficiently finely specified so that each action, together with each state, yields one and only one maximally specific outcome. In the case of the boundedly rational decisionmaker, this procedure is either infeasible or, if feasible, irrational. This paper presents the problem of bounded rationality. It surveys possible solutions, none of which are found to be attractive. And it concludes by discussing the difficulties that the problem of bounded rationality poses for the welfarist program for legal scholarship presented by Louis Kaplow and Steven Shavell in their book, Fairness versus Welfare. (shrink)
The tu quoque argument is the argument that since in the end rationalism rests on an irrational choice of and commitment to rationality, rationalism is as irrational as any other commitment. Popper's and Polanyi's philosophies of science both accept the argument, and have on that account many similarities; yet Popper manages to remain a rationalist whereas Polanyi decided for an irrationalist version of rationalism. This is more marked in works of their respective followers, W. W. Bartley III and Thomas S. (...) Kuhn. Bartley declares the rationalist's very openness to criticism open to criticism, in the hope of rendering Popper's critical rationalism quite comprehensive. Kuhn makes rationality depend on the existence of an accepted model for scientific research (paradigm), thus rendering Polanyi's view of the authority of scientific leadership a sine qua non for scientific progress. The question raised here is, in what sense is a rationalist committed to his rationality, or an irrationalist to his specific axiom ? The tradition views only the life?long commitment as real. Viewing rationality as experimental open?mindedness, we may consider a rationalist unable to retreat into any life?long commitment ? even commitment to science. In this way the logic of the tu quoque argument is made irrelevant: anyone able to face the choice between rationality and commitment is already beyond such a choice; it is one thing to be still naïve and another ? and paradoxical ? thing to return to one's naïveté. (shrink)
The arguments presented in this discussion point to some problems in the theory of communicative action considered as a starting point for a sociological theory with both normative and explanatory aspirations. It is argued that Habermas's notion of consensus is not sufficiently developed to constitute a foundation of the ethics of public debates; that both social action and communicative action are grounded in social actors' references to the same three worlds, which makes the coordination of actions by means of understanding (...) achieved in speech possible; that the criteria of rationality underlying use of language in the communicative action are ultimately those that are made explicit and consciously worked out in science; and that, finally, it is Parsons' solution to the Hobbesian problem and his concept of social action that provide a possible foundation for universalistic ethics. (shrink)
The purpose of this paper is to examine the ways in which journalism—print and electronic—shapes our cultural fabric and modes of discourse. Journalists report facts and comment on them in a provocative style. They stimulate us with captivating images and colorful language, shifting our minds from a more intellectual contemplation of reality. Finally, journalists bring death into our lives through grim pictures of wars and natural disasters. I suggest that these relatively recent trends in journalism are responsible for a gradual (...) transformation in public discourse. Emotions, rather than rational thinking, are becoming our basis for understanding current events. As a result, journalists are minimizing the distance between us, as rational creatures of culture, and nature. (shrink)
When tennis fan Jane Bronstein attended the 1995 U.S. Open she probably knew there was a remote chance her image would end up on television screens around the world. But she surely did not know she was at risk of becoming the object of worldwide attention on the David Letterman Show. As it happened, Letterman spotted an unflattering clip from the U.S. Open showing a heavyset Bronstein with peach juice dripping down her chin. Not only did he show the footage (...) six times that fall, but he ridiculed her on his “Top 10 List,” calling her a “seductive temptress,” even paying to put the clip on the Sony Jumbotron electronic billboard at Time Square. Ms. Bronstein sued David Letterman’s production company under New York civil rights law for violating her privacy. (shrink)
Gary Becker and others have done important work to broaden the content of self interest, but have not departed from seeing rationality in terms of the exclusive pursuit of self-interest. One reason why committed behavior is important is that a person can have good reason to pursue objectives other than self interest maximization (no matter how broadly it is construed). Indeed, one can also follow rules of behavior that go beyond the pursuit of one's own goals, even if the goals (...) include non-self-interested concerns. By living in a society, one develops possible reasons for considering other people's goals as well, which takes one beyond an exclusive concentration on one's own goals, not to mention the single-minded pursuit of one's own self interest. The recognition of other people's goals may be a part of rational thought. If rational behavior may depart from the relentless pursuit of one's own goals, commitment has to be important in a theory of rationality. Furthermore, seeing the role of commitment in human behavior can have explanatory importance in allowing us to understand behavior patterns that are hard to fit into the narrow format of contemporary rational choice theory. Commitment is, thus, important both for practical reason and for causal explanation. Footnotes1 Paper presented at a Workshop on Rationality and Commitment at the University of St. Gallen, May 13–15, 2004. (shrink)
Scholars from various philosophical schools of thought, including cultural relativism, hermeneutics, and postmodernism, have recently critiqued rationalism in light of new developments in the cognitive sciences. Each of these new developments set into motion new inquiries in each school philosophical school of thought. Now, in Facets of Rationality, a distinguished team of scholars examines these new inquiries and bring rationality back into the mainstream of the social sciences. The unique feature of this book lies in its multidisciplinary exploration of rational (...) concerns and in discovering the integral meaning of rationality as viewed by the perspectives of different disciplines. As such, it will of considerable interest to those involved with the study and teaching of philosophy, theoretical psychology, cognitive science, political theory, and linguistics. (shrink)
In an earlier paper ("knowledge, Belief, And rationality" "journal of philosophy", Lxxiv, 1977, Pages 217-225), I argued that the relation of knowledge and belief was a normative relation, Not one of entailment. Kenneth stern ("knowledge and rationality" "philosophical studies", Volume 35, 1979, Pages 213-216) attacked my theory. In the present paper I reply to his arguments.
We present an axiomatic approach for a class of finite, extensive form games of perfect information that makes use of notions like “rationality at a node” and “knowledge at a node.” We distinguish between the game theorist's and the players' own “theory of the game.” The latter is a theory that is sufficient for each player to infer a certain sequence of moves, whereas the former is intended as a justification of such a sequence of moves. While in general the (...) game theorist's theory of the game is not and need not be axiomatized, the players' theory must be an axiomatic one, since we model players as analogous to automatic theorem provers that play the game by inferring (or computing) a sequence of moves. We provide the players with an axiomatic theory sufficient to infer a solution for the game (in our case, the backwards induction equilibrium), and prove its consistency. We then inquire what happens when the theory of the game is augmented with information that a move outside the inferred solution has occurred. We show that a theory that is sufficient for the players to infer a solution and still remains consistent in the face of deviations must be modular. By this we mean that players have distributed knowledge of it. Finally, we show that whenever the theory of the game is group-knowledge (or common knowledge) among the players (i.e., it is the same at each node), a deviation from the solution gives rise to inconsistencies and therefore forces a revision of the theory at later nodes. On the contrary, whenever a theory of the game is modular, a deviation from equilibrium play does not induce a revision of the theory. (shrink)
Summary Critics have said that Kuhn's account of scientific revolutions represents them as subjective and irrational processes, in which mystical conversions and community pressures rather than good reasons determine choices between theories. Kuhn rejects the charge, insisting that there is partial communication among proponents of competing paradigm candidates and their arguments are rational though not coercive. The critics reply that in fact Kuhn's position entails total non-communication and irrationality. A Kuhnian account of partial communication is thus necessary. Kuhn's attempt to (...) give one, based on the notion that the good reasons advanced in paradigm debates function asvalues, fails. But a more satisfactory account can be given if it is recognized that paradigm-debaters will, in one or both of two ways, share paradigmsother than the ones at issue. Further, Kuhn's position both should and can accommodate a notion of theory reduction; his unqualified rejection of reduction is an unnecessary weakness, even apart from questions about the rationality of revolutions. The paper concludes with a brief examination of the contrast between Kuhn's and Feyerabend's strategies for the advancement of science. (shrink)