Rational Decision-Making in a Complex World: Towards an Instrumental, yet Embodied, Account

Logos and Episteme 13 (4):381-404 (2022)
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Abstract

Prima facie, we make successful decisions as we act on and intervene in the world day-to-day. Epistemologists are often concerned with whether rationality is involved in such decision-making practices, and, if so, to what degree. Some, particularly in the post-structuralist tradition, argue that successful decision-making occurs via an existential leap into the unknown rather than via any determinant or criterion such as rationality. I call this view radical voluntarism (RV). Proponents of RV include those who subscribe to a view they call Critical Complexity (CC). In this paper, I argue that CC presents a false dichotomy when it conceives of rationality in Cartesian – i.e. ideal and transcendental – terms, and then concludes that RV is the proper alternative. I then outline a pragmatist rationality informed by recent work in psychology on bounded rationality, ecological rationality, and specifically embodied rationality. Such a pragmatist rationality seems to be compatible with the tenets of post-structuralism, and can therefore replace RV in CC.

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Ragnar Van Der Merwe
University of Johannesburg

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