Sensitizing Reasons by Emulating Exemplars

Informal Logic 35 (2):204-220 (2015)

Abstract

The fostering of rationality has long been endorsed as an educational ideal by some philosophers; in recent years, whereas some have argued for this ideal, others have challenged it, particularly within debates relevant to the study of critical thinking. Harvey Siegel, who has spelled out the philosophical theory of educating for rationality, not only has defended his view from such challenges but also has been deepening his thoughts regarding how rationality can be fostered. This paper centers on the cultivating of sensitivity to reasons in the fostering of rationality by critically examining and extending Siegel’s arguments concerning the notion of what he calls “felt reasons.” By clarifying the notion of felt reasons, I will argue for two ideas: first, teachers, parents, and fictional characters in media such as novels and films can be seen as exemplars that manifest rationality; second, the emotion of admiring exemplars may act as a motivating force for children—including small children who are still not sensitive to reasons and thus are not moved by reasons—to be critical thinkers.

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