The art of self-persuasion: the social explanation of false beliefs

Cambridge, MA: Polity (1994)
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Abstract

This text aims to provide a contribution to the analysis of beliefs and, through the elaboration of the notion of good reasons, to make a significant contribution to the theory of rationality. It examines the main theories that have been used in the social sciences and psychology for the explanation of beliefs. The author develops a particular model which enables him to show that people often have good reasons to believe in false ideas. The central idea of this model is that people often draw controversial conclusions from valid arguments because they introduce implicit statements which they do not perceive, since they treat them - with good reasons - as self-evident. Hence they can hold doubtful, or even false, conclusions and regard them as solidly grounded. Boudon shows that this model can be used to reinterpret many findings from the sociology of religion and the sociology of knowledge, as well as from cognitive psychology.

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