Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory


Authors
Dan Sperber
Institut Jean Nicod
Abstract
Short abstract (98 words). Reasoning is generally seen as a means to improve knowledge and make better decisions. However, much evidence shows that reasoning often leads to epistemic distortions and poor decisions. This suggests that the function of reasoning should be rethought. Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative. It is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade. Reasoning so conceived is adaptive given humans’ exceptional dependence on communication and vulnerability to misinformation. A wide range of evidence in the psychology of reasoning and decision making can be reinterpreted and better explained in the light of this hypothesis.
Keywords argumentation   confirmation bias   decision making   dual process theory   evolutionary psychology   motivated reasoning   reason-based choice   reasoning
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DOI 10.1017/s0140525x10000968
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