How (far) can rationality be naturalized?

Synthese 187 (1):243-268 (2012)

Authors
Thomas Sturm
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Abstract
The paper shows why and how an empirical study of fast-and-frugal heuristics can provide norms of good reasoning, and thus how (and how far) rationality can be naturalized. We explain the heuristics that humans often rely on in solving problems, for example, choosing investment strategies or apartments, placing bets in sports, or making library searches. We then show that heuristics can lead to judgments that are as accurate as or even more accurate than strategies that use more information and computation, including optimization methods. A standard way to defend the use of heuristics is by reference to accuracy-effort trade-offs. We take a different route, emphasizing ecological rationality (the relationship between cognitive heuristics and environment), and argue that in uncertain environments, more information and computation are not always better (the “less-can-be-more” doctrine). The resulting naturalism about rationality is thus normative because it not only describes what heuristics people use, but also in which specific environments one should rely on a heuristic in order to make better inferences. While we desist from claiming that the scope of ecological rationality is unlimited, we think it is of wide practical use.
Keywords Rationality  Judgment and decision-making  Uncertainty  Heuristics
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DOI 10.1007/s11229-011-0030-6
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References found in this work BETA

Epistemology and Cognition.Alvin I. Goldman - 1986 - Harvard University Press.
Fact, Fiction and Forecast.NELSON GOODMAN - 1955 - Harvard University Press.
The Foundations of Statistics.Leonard J. Savage - 1954 - Wiley Publications in Statistics.

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Citations of this work BETA

The “Rationality Wars” in Psychology: Where They Are and Where They Could Go.Thomas Sturm - 2012 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 55 (1):66-81.
Heuristics and Meta-Heuristics in Scientific Judgement.Spencer Phillips Hey - 2016 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (2):471-495.

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