Scientific reasoning is—and ought to be—conducted in accordance with the axioms of probability. This Bayesian view—so called because of the central role it accords to a theorem first proved by Thomas Bayes in the late eighteenth ...
Distinctions have been proposed between systems of reasoning for centuries. This article distills properties shared by many of these distinctions and characterizes the resulting systems in light of recent findings and theoretical developments. One system is associative because its computations reflect similarity structure and relations of temporal contiguity. The other is "rule based" because it operates on symbolic structures that have logical content and variables and because its computations have the properties that are normally assigned to rules. The systems (...) serve complementary functions and can simultaneously generate different solutions to a reasoning problem. The rule-based system can suppress the associative system but not completely inhibit it. The article reviews evidence in favor of the distinction and its characterization. (shrink)
Much research in the last two decades has demonstrated that human responses deviate from the performance deemed normative according to various models of decision making and rational judgment (e.g., the basic axioms of utility theory). This gap between the normative and the descriptive can be interpreted as indicating systematic irrationalities in human cognition. However, four alternative interpretations preserve the assumption that human behavior and cognition is largely rational. These posit that the gap is due to (1) performance errors, (2) computational (...) limitations, (3) the wrong norm being applied by the experimenter, and (4) a different construal of the task by the subject. In the debates about the viability of these alternative explanations, attention has been focused too narrowly on the modal response. In a series of experiments involving most of the classic tasks in the heuristics and biases literature, we have examined the implications of individual differences in performance for each of the four explanations of the normative/descriptive gap. Performance errors are a minor factor in the gap; computational limitations underlie non-normative responding on several tasks, particularly those that involve some type of cognitive decontextualization. Unexpected patterns of covariance can suggest when the wrong norm is being applied to a task or when an alternative construal of the task should be considered appropriate. Key Words: biases; descriptive models; heuristics; individual differences; normative models; rationality; reasoning. (shrink)
The justificatory force of empirical reasoning always depends upon the existence of some synthetic, a priori justification. The reasoner must begin with justified, substantive constraints on both the prior probability of the conclusion and certain conditional probabilities; otherwise, all possible degrees of belief in the conclusion are left open given the premises. Such constraints cannot in general be empirically justified, on pain of infinite regress. Nor does subjective Bayesianism offer a way out for the empiricist. Despite often-cited convergence theorems, (...) subjective Bayesians cannot hold that any empirical hypothesis is ever objectively justified in the relevant sense. Rationalism is thus the only alternative to an implausible skepticism. (shrink)
Robert Batterman examines a form of scientific reasoning called asymptotic reasoning, arguing that it has important consequences for our understanding of the scientific process as a whole. He maintains that asymptotic reasoning is essential for explaining what physicists call universal behavior. With clarity and rigor, he simplifies complex questions about universal behavior, demonstrating a profound understanding of the underlying structures that ground them. This book introduces a valuable new method that is certain to fill explanatory gaps across (...) disciplines. (shrink)
This book represents the first major attempt by any author to provide an integrated account of the evidence for bias in human reasoning across a wide range of disparate psychological literatures. The topics discussed involve both deductive and inductive reasoning as well as statistical judgement and inference. In addition, the author proposes a general theoretical approach to the explanations of bias and considers the practical implications for real world decision making. The theoretical stance of the book is based (...) on a distinction between preconscious heuristic processes which determine the mental representation of 'relevant' features of the problem content, and subsequent analytic reasoning processes which generate inferences and judgements. Phenomena discussed and interpreted within this framework include feature matching biases in propositional reasoning, confirmation bias, biasing and debiasing effects of knowledge on reasoning, and biases in statistical judgement normally attributed to 'availability' and 'representativeness' heuristics. In the final chapter, the practical consequences of bias for real life decision making are considered, together with various issues concerning the problem of 'debiasing'. The major approaches discussed are those involving education and training on the one hand, and the development of intelligent software and interactive decision aids on the other. (shrink)
Active reasoning is the kind of reasoning that we do deliberately and consciously. In characterizing the nature of active reasoning and the norms it should obey, the question arises which attitudes we can reason with. Many authors take outright beliefs to be the attitudes we reason with. Others assume that we can reason with both outright beliefs and degrees of belief. Some think that we reason only with degrees of belief. In this paper I approach the question (...) of what kinds of beliefs can participate in reasoning by using the following method: I take the default position to be maximally permissive – that both graded and outright beliefs can participate in reasoning. I then identify some features of active reasoning that appear at first glance to favor a more restrictive position about which types of belief we can reason with. I argue that the arguments based on these features ultimately fail. (shrink)
This paper tries to do three things. First, it tries to make it plausible that correct rules of reasoning do not always preserve justification: in other words, if you begin with a justified attitude, and reason correctly from that premise, it can nevertheless happen that you’ll nevertheless arrive at an unjustified attitude. Attempts to show that such cases in fact involve following an incorrect rule of reasoning cannot be vindicated. Second, it also argues that correct rules of (...) class='Hi'>reasoning do not even correspond to permissions of “structural rationality”: it is not always structurally permissible to base an attitude on other attitudes from which it follows by correct reasoning. Third, from these observations it tries to build a somewhat positive account of the correctness of rules of reasoning as a more sui generis notion irreducible to either justification or structural rationality. This account vindicates an important unity of theoretical and practical reasoning as well as a qualified version of the thesis that deductive logic supplies correct rules of reasoning. (shrink)
According to an increasingly popular epistemological view, people need outright beliefs in addition to credences to simplify their reasoning. Outright beliefs simplify reasoning by allowing thinkers to ignore small error probabilities. What is outright believed can change between contexts. It has been claimed that thinkers manage shifts in their outright beliefs and credences across contexts by an updating procedure resembling conditionalization, which I call pseudo-conditionalization (PC). But conditionalization is notoriously complicated. The claim that thinkers manage their beliefs via (...) PC is thus in tension with the view that the function of beliefs is to simplify our reasoning. I propose to resolve this puzzle by rejecting the view that thinkers employ PC. Based on this solution, I furthermore argue for a descriptive and a normative claim. The descriptive claim is that the available strategies for managing beliefs and credences across contexts that are compatible with the simplifying function of outright beliefs can generate synchronic and diachronic incoherence in a thinker’s attitudes. Moreover, I argue that the view of outright belief as a simplifying heuristic is incompatible with the view that there are ideal norms of coherence or consistency governing outright beliefs that are too complicated for human thinkers to comply with. (shrink)
In this paper I deal with epistemological issues that stem from the hypothesis that reasoning is not only a means of transmitting knowledge from premise-beliefs to conclusion-beliefs, but also a primary source of knowledge in its own right. The idea is that one can gain new knowledge on the basis of suppositional reasoning. After making some preliminary distinctions, I argue that there are no good reasons to think that purported examples of knowledge grounded on pure reasoning are (...) just examples of premise-based inferences in disguise. Next, I establish what kinds of true propositions can to a first approximation be known on the basis of pure reasoning. Finally, I argue that beliefs that are competently formed on the basis of suppositional reasoning satisfy both externalist and internalist criteria of justification. (shrink)
According to Aristotle, humans are the rational animal. The borderline between rationality and irrationality is fundamental to many aspects of human life including the law, mental health, and language interpretation. But what is it to be rational? One answer, deeply embedded in the Western intellectual tradition since ancient Greece, is that rationality concerns reasoning according to the rules of logic – the formal theory that specifies the inferential connections that hold with certainty between propositions. Piaget viewed logical reasoning (...) as defining the end-point of cognitive development; and contemporary psychology of reasoning has focussed on comparing human reasoning against logical standards. (shrink)
Many philosophers have been attracted to the view that reasons are premises of good reasoning – that reasons to φ are premises of good reasoning towards φ-ing. However, while this reasoning view is indeed attractive, it faces a problem accommodating outweighed reasons. In this article, I argue that the standard solution to this problem is unsuccessful and propose an alternative, which draws on the idea that good patterns of reasoning can be defeasible. I conclude by drawing (...) out implications for the debate over pragmatic reasons for belief and other attitudes and for one influential form of reductionism about the normative. (shrink)
Change, Choice and Inference develops logical theories that are necessary both for the understanding of adaptable human reasoning and for the design of intelligent systems. The book shows that reasoning processes - the drawing on inferences and changing one's beliefs - can be viewed as belonging to the realm of practical reason by embedding logical theories into the broader context of the theory of rational choice. The book unifies lively and significant strands of research in logic, philosophy, economics (...) and artificial intelligence. It elaborates on the relevant theories and provides a mathematically precise foundation for the thesis that large parts of theoretical reason can be subsumed under practical reason. (shrink)
An organizing theme of the dissertation is the issue of how to make philosophical theories useful for scientific purposes. An argument for the contention is presented that it doesn’t suffice merely to theoretically motivate one’s theories, and make them compatible with existing data, but that philosophers having this aim should ideally contribute to identifying unique and hard to vary predictions of their theories. This methodological recommendation is applied to the ranking-theoretic approach to conditionals, which emphasizes the epistemic relevance and the (...) expression of reason relations as part of the semantics of the natural language conditional. As a first step, this approach is theoretically motivated in a comparative discussion of other alternatives in psychology of reasoning, like the suppositional theory of conditionals, and novel approaches to the problems of compositionality and accounting for the objective purport of indicative conditionals are presented. In a second step, a formal model is formulated, which allows us to derive quantitative predictions from the ranking-theoretic approach, and it is investigated which novel avenues of empirical research that this model opens up for. Finally, a treatment is given of the problem of logical omniscience as it concerns the issue of whether ranking theory (and other similar approaches) makes too idealized assumptions about rationality to allow for interesting applications in psychology of reasoning. Building on the work of Robert Brandom, a novel solution to this problem is presented, which both opens up for new perspectives in psychology of reasoning and appears to be capable of satisfying a range of constraints on bridge principles between logic and norms of reasoning, which would otherwise stand in a tension. (shrink)
While there is much evidence for the influence of automatic emotional responses on moral judgment, the roles of reflection and reasoning remain uncertain. In Experiment 1, we induced subjects to be more reflective by completing the Cognitive Reflection Test prior to responding to moral dilemmas. This manipulation increased utilitarian responding, as individuals who reflected more on the CRT made more utilitarian judgments. A follow-up study suggested that trait reflectiveness is also associated with increased utilitarian judgment. In Experiment 2, subjects (...) considered a scenario involving incest between consenting adult siblings, a scenario known for eliciting emotionally driven condemnation that resists reasoned persuasion. Here, we manipulated two factors related to moral reasoning: argument strength and deliberation time. These factors interacted in a manner consistent with moral reasoning: A strong argument defending the incestuous behavior was more persuasive than a weak argument, but only when increased deliberation time encouraged subjects to reflect. (shrink)
Reasoning is a certain kind of attitude-revision. What kind? The aim of this paper is to introduce and defend a new answer to this question, based on the idea that reasoning is a goodness-fixing kind. Our central claim is that reasoning is a functional kind: it has a constitutive point or aim that fixes the standards for good reasoning. We claim, further, that this aim is to get fitting attitudes. We start by considering recent accounts of (...)reasoning due to Ralph Wedgwood and John Broome, and argue that, while these accounts contain important insights, they are not satisfactory: Wedgwood’s rules out too much, and Broome’s too little. We then introduce and defend our alternative account, discuss some of its implications and attractions, and, finally, consider objections. (shrink)
At the heart of John Broome’s research program in the philosophy of normativity is a distinction between reasons, on one hand, and requirements of rationality, on the other. I am a friend of Broome’s view that this distinction is deep and important, and that neither notion can be analyzed in terms of the other. However, I also think there are major challenges that this view is yet to meet. In the first part of the paper, I’ll raise four such challenges, (...) and programmatically indicate how I think such challenges might be headed off. In the second part of the paper, I’ll discuss a third normative notion that Broome is interested in: that of (rules of) correct reasoning. On Broome’s view, correct reasoning is closely tied to requirements of rationality. More particularly, every rule of correct reasoning corresponds to a “basing permission”, which states that it’s rationally permissible to base one attitude on one or more other attitudes. I’ll argue that this proposal can’t be made to work. If I’m right, this suggests that the same kind of pulling-apart that Broome has effected so persuasively with respect to reasons and requirements of rationality needs to be effected again to separate rules of correct reasoning from both of those other categories. (shrink)
What makes the difference between good and bad reasoning? In this paper we defend a novel account of good reasoning—both theoretical and practical—according to which it preserves fittingness or correctness: good reasoning is reasoning which is such as to take you from fitting attitudes to further fitting attitudes, other things equal. This account, we argue, is preferable to two others that feature in the recent literature. The first, which has been made prominent by John Broome, holds (...) that the standards of good reasoning derive from rational requirements. The second holds that these standards derive from reasons. We argue that these accounts face serious difficulties in correctly distinguishing good from bad reasoning, and in explaining what's worthwhile about good reasoning. We then propose our alternative account and argue that it performs better on these counts. In the final section, we develop certain elements of the account in response to some possible objections. (shrink)
The study of deductive reasoning has been a major paradigm in psychology for approximately the past 40 years. Research has shown that people make many logical errors on such tasks and are strongly influenced by problem content and context. It is argued that this paradigm was developed in a context of logicist thinking that is now outmoded. Few reasoning researchers still believe that logic is an appropriate normative system for most human reasoning, let alone a model for (...) describing the process of human reasoning, and many use the paradigm principally to study pragmatic and probabilistic processes. It is suggested that the methods used for studying reasoning be reviewed, especially the instructional context, which necessarily defines pragmatic influences as biases. (shrink)
Regress arguments have convinced many that reasoning cannot require beliefs about what follows from what. In this paper I argue that this is a mistake. Regress arguments rest on dubious (although deeply entrenched) assumptions about the nature of reasoning — most prominently, the assumption that believing p by reasoning is simply a matter of having a belief in p with the right causal ancestry. I propose an alternative account, according to which beliefs about what follows from what (...) play a constitutive role in reasoning. (shrink)
Human agents draw a variety of inferences effortlessly, spontaneously, and with remarkable efficiency – as though these inferences were a reflexive response of their cognitive apparatus. Furthermore, these inferences are drawn with reference to a large body of background knowledge. This remarkable human ability seems paradoxical given the complexity of reasoning reported by researchers in artificial intelligence. It also poses a challenge for cognitive science and computational neuroscience: How can a system of simple and slow neuronlike elements represent a (...) large body of systemic knowledge and perform a range of inferences with such speed? We describe a computational model that takes a step toward addressing the cognitive science challenge and resolving the artificial intelligence paradox. We show how a connectionist network can encode millions of facts and rules involving n-ary predicates and variables and perform a class of inferences in a few hundred milliseconds. Efficient reasoning requires the rapid representation and propagation of dynamic bindings. Our model (which we refer to as SHRUTI) achieves this by representing (1) dynamic bindings as the synchronous firing of appropriate nodes, (2) rules as interconnection patterns that direct the propagation of rhythmic activity, and (3) long-term facts as temporal pattern-matching subnetworks. The model is consistent with recent neurophysiological evidence that synchronous activity occurs in the brain and may play a representational role in neural information processing. The model also makes specific psychologically significant predictions about the nature of reflexive reasoning. It identifies constraints on the form of rules that may participate in such reasoning and relates the capacity of the working memory underlying reflexive reasoning to biological parameters such as the lowest frequency at which nodes can sustain synchronous oscillations and the coarseness of synchronization. (shrink)
The philosophical literature on reasoning is dominated by the assumption that reasoning is essentially a matter of following rules. This paper challenges this view, by arguing that it misrepresents the nature of reasoning as a personal level activity. Reasoning must reflect the reasoner’s take on her evidence. The rule-following model seems ill-suited to accommodate this fact. Accordingly, this paper suggests replacing the rule-following model with a different, semantic approach to reasoning.
In this paper I am concerned with the question of whether degrees of belief can figure in reasoning processes that are executed by humans. It is generally accepted that outright beliefs and intentions can be part of reasoning processes, but the role of degrees of belief remains unclear. The literature on subjective Bayesianism, which seems to be the natural place to look for discussions of the role of degrees of belief in reasoning, does not address the question (...) of whether degrees of belief play a role in real agents’ reasoning processes. On the other hand, the philosophical literature on reasoning, which relies much less heavily on idealizing assumptions about reasoners than Bayesianism, is almost exclusively concerned with outright belief. One possible explanation for why no philosopher has yet developed an account of reasoning with degrees of belief is that reasoning with degrees of belief is not possible for humans. In this paper, I will consider three arguments for this claim. I will show why these arguments are flawed, and conclude that, at least as far as these arguments are concerned, it seems like there is no good reason why the topic of reasoning with degrees of belief has received so little attention. (shrink)
In this important new collection, Gilbert Harman presents a selection of fifteen interconnected essays on fundamental issues at the center of analytic philosophy. The book opens with a group of four essays discussing basic principles of reasoning and rationality. The next three essays argue against the once popular idea that certain claims are true and knowable by virtue of meaning. In the third group of essays Harman presents his own view of meaning and the possibility of thinking in language (...) The final three essays investigate the nature of mind, developing further the themes already set out. Reasoning, Meaning, and Mind offers an integrated presentation of this rich and influential body of work. which Harman has developed over thirty years. (shrink)
This article outlines a theory of naive probability. According to the theory, individuals who are unfamiliar with the probability calculus can infer the probabilities of events in an extensional way: They construct mental models of what is true in the various possibilities. Each model represents an equiprobable alternative unless individuals have beliefs to the contrary, in which case some models will have higher probabilities than others. The probability of an event depends on the proportion of models in which it occurs. (...) The theory predicts several phenomena of reasoning about absolute probabilities, including typical biases. It correctly predicts certain cognitive illusions in inferences about relative probabilities. It accommodates reasoning based on numerical premises, and it explains how naive reasoners can infer posterior probabilities without relying on Bayes's theorem. Finally, it dispels some common misconceptions of probabilistic reasoning. (shrink)
What is the relationship between the epistemic norms of assertion and the epistemic norms of action/practical reasoning? Brown argues that the standards for practical reasoning and assertion are distinct (Brown 2012). In contrast, Montminy argues that practical reasoning and assertion must be governed by the same norm (Montminy 2012). Likewise, McKinnon has articulated an argument for a unified account from cases of isolated second-hand knowledge (McKinnon 2012). To clarify the issue, I articulate a distinction between Equivalence Commonality (...) and Structural Commonality. I then argue against the former by counterexamples that doubly dissociate the standards for assertion and action. Furthermore, I argue that such a double dissociation compromises knowledge accounts of both assertion and action/practical reasoning. To provide a more accurate diagnosis, I consider speech act theory and argue that principled differences between the norms of action and assertion compromise Equivalence Commonality. In contrast, a qualified version of Structural Commonality may be preserved. (shrink)
Whereas Bayesians have proposed norms such as probabilism, which requires immediate and permanent certainty in all logical truths, I propose a framework on which credences, including credences in logical truths, are rational because they are based on reasoning that follows plausible rules for the adoption of credences. I argue that my proposed framework has many virtues. In particular, it resolves the problem of logical omniscience.
This study draws on Kohlberg''s Cognitive Moral Development Theory and Hofstede''s Culture Theory to examine whether cultural differences are associated with variations in ethical reasoning. Ethical reasoning levels for auditors from Australia and China are expected to be different since auditors from China and Australia are also different in terms of the cultural dimensions of long term orientation, power distance, uncertainty avoidance and individualism. The Defining Issues Tests measuring ethical reasoning P scores were distributed to auditors from (...) Australia and China including Hong Kong and The Chinese Mainland. Results show that auditors from Australia have higher ethical reasoning scores than those from China, consistent with Hofstede''s Culture Theory predictions. (shrink)
Although deductive reasoning is a closed system, one's beliefs about the world can influence validity judgements. To understand the associated functional neuroanatomy of this belief-bias we studied 14 volunteers using event-related fMRI, as they performed reasoning tasks under neutral, facilitatory and inhibitory belief conditions. We found evidence for the engagement of a left temporal lobe system during belief-based reasoning and a bilateral parietal lobe system during belief-neutral reasoning. Activation of right lateral prefrontal cortex was evident when (...) subjects inhibited a prepotent response associated with belief-bias and correctly completed a logical task, a finding consistent with its putative role in cognitive monitoring. By contrast, when logical reasoning was overcome by belief-bias, there was engagement of ventral medial prefrontal cortex, a region implicated in affective processing. This latter involvement suggests that belief-bias effects in reasoning may be mediated through an influence of emotional processes on reasoning. (shrink)
In section 1, I develop epistemic communism, my view of the function of epistemically evaluative terms such as ‘rational’. The function is to support the coordination of our belief-forming rules, which in turn supports the reliable acquisition of beliefs through testimony. This view is motivated by the existence of valid inferences that we hesitate to call rational. I defend the view against the worry that it fails to account for a function of evaluations within first-personal deliberation. In the rest of (...) the paper, I then argue, on the basis of epistemic communism, for a view about rationality itself. I set up the argument in section 2 by saying what a theory of rational deduction is supposed to do. I claim that such a theory would provide a necessary, sufficient, and explanatorily unifying condition for being a rational rule for inferring deductive consequences. I argue in section 3 that, given epistemic communism and the conventionality that it entails, there is no such theory. Nothing explains why certain rules for deductive reasoning are rational. (shrink)
Recent research in moral psychology highlights the role of emotion and intuition in moral judgment. In the wake of these findings, the role and significance of moral reasoning remain uncertain. In this article, we distinguish among different kinds of moral reasoning and review evidence suggesting that at least some kinds of moral reasoning play significant roles in moral judgment, including roles in abandoning moral intuitions in the absence of justifying reasons, applying both deontological and utilitarian moral principles, (...) and counteracting automatic tendencies toward bias that would otherwise dominate behavior. We argue that little is known about the psychology of moral reasoning and that it may yet prove to be a potent social force. (shrink)
This book by one of the world's foremost philosophers in the fields of epistemology and logic offers an account of suppositional reasoning relevant to practical deliberation, explanation, prediction and hypothesis testing. Suppositions made 'for the sake of argument' sometimes conflict with our beliefs, and when they do, some beliefs are rejected and others retained. Thanks to such belief contravention, adding content to a supposition can undermine conclusions reached without it. Subversion can also arise because suppositional reasoning is ampliative. (...) These two types of nonmonotonic logic are the focus of this book. A detailed comparison of nonmonotonicity appropriate to both belief contravening and ampliative suppositional reasoning reveals important differences that have been overlooked. (shrink)
The growing trend of required ethics instruction in the business school curriculum has created a need for relevant teaching materials. In response to this need the Journal of Business Ethics is introducing a new case section. This section provides a forum for publishing and accessing a range of materials that can be used in teaching business ethics. This article discusses how business ethics cases can facilitate the development of deductive, inductive and critical reasoning skills.
Previous research indicates that ethical ideologies, issue-contingencies, and social context can impact ethical reasoning in different business situations. However, the manner in which these constructs work together to shape different steps of the ethical decision-making process is not always clear. The purpose of this study was to address these issues by exploring the influence of idealism and relativism, perceived moral intensity in a decision-making situation, and social context on the recognition of an ethical issue and ethical intention. Utilizing a (...) sales-based scenario and multiple ethics measures included on a self-report questionnaire, data were collected from a regional sample of business students, most of whom had modest work experience. The results indicated that perceived moral intensity was associated with increased ethical issue recognition and ethical intention. Idealism was also associated with increased ethical issue recognition, and relativism was associated with decreased ethical intention. Social consensus was positively related to ethical issue recognition and intention, while competitive context was inversely related to ethical intention. Finally, ethical issue recognition was associated with increased ethical intention. Idealism, moral intensity, social consensus, and work experience worked together as predictors of ethical issue recognition, whereas recognition of an ethical issue, relativism, moral intensity, social consensus, and competitive context worked together to predict ethical intention. (shrink)
There is a long tradition in formal epistemology and in the psychology of reasoning to investigate indicative conditionals. In psychology, the propositional calculus was taken for granted to be the normative standard of reference. Experimental tasks, evaluation of the participants’ responses and psychological model building, were inspired by the semantics of the material conditional. Recent empirical work on indicative conditionals focuses on uncertainty. Consequently, the normative standard of reference has changed. I argue why neither logic nor standard probability theory (...) provide appropriate rationality norms for uncertain conditionals. I advocate coherence based probability logic as an appropriate framework for investigating uncertain conditionals. Detailed proofs of the probabilistic non-informativeness of a paradox of the material conditional illustrate the approach from a formal point of view. I survey selected data on human reasoning about uncertain conditionals which additionally support the plausibility of the approach from an empirical point of view. (shrink)
Elaborating on the notions that humans possess different modalities of decision-making and that these are often influenced by moral considerations, we conducted an experimental investigation of the Trolley Problem. We presented the participants with two standard scenarios (‹lever’ and ‹stranger’) either in the usual or in reversed order. We observe that responses to the lever scenario, which result from (moral) reasoning, are affected by our manipulation; whereas responses to the stranger scenario, triggered by moral emotions, are unaffected. Furthermore, when (...) asked to express general moral opinions on the themes of the Trolley Problem, about half of the participants reveal some inconsistency with the responses they had previously given. (shrink)
When and why does it matter whether we can give an explicit justification for what we believe? This paper examines these questions in the light of recent empirical work on the social functions served by our capacity to reason, in particular, Mercier and Sperber’s argumentative theory of reasoning.
While models of business ethics increasingly recognize that ethical behavior varies cross-culturally, scant attention has been given to understanding how culture affects the ethical reasoning process that predicates individuals' ethical actions. To address this gap, this paper illustrates how culture may affect the various components of individuals' ethical reasoning by integrating findings from the cross-cultural management literature with cognitive-developmental perspective. Implications for future research and transnational organizations are discussed.
Since at least the 1960s, deontic logicians and ethicists have worried about whether there can be normative systems that allow conflicting obligations. Surprisingly, however, little direct attention has been paid to questions about how we may reason with conflicting obligations. In this paper, I present a problem for making sense of reasoning with conflicting obligations and argue that no deontic logic can solve this problem. I then develop an account of reasoning based on the popular idea in ethics (...) that reasons explain obligations and show that it solves this problem. (shrink)
An important objection to political liberalism is that it provides no means by which to decide conflicts between public and non-public reasons. This article develops John Rawls' idea of `reasoning from conjecture' as one way to argue for a commitment to public reason. Reasoning from conjecture is a form of non-public justification that allows political liberals to reason from within the comprehensive views of at least some unreasonable citizens. After laying out the basic features of this form of (...) non-public justification, this article responds to three objections based on concerns about insincerity, cultural imperialism, and the epistemic authority of those who reason from conjecture. (shrink)
This paper explores the sense in which rational requirements govern our attitudes like belief and intention. I argue that there is a tension between the idea that rational requirements govern attitudes understood as standing states and the attractive idea that we can directly satisfy the requirements by performing reasoning. I identify the tension by (a) illustrating how a dispositional conception of belief can cause trouble for the idea that we can directly revise our attitudes through reasoning by considering (...) John Broome's view, and (b) advancing a general argument that a standing state cannot be directly affected by reasoning. I then propose a solution: by recognizing the proper targets of rational requirements as occurrent, rather than dispositional attitudes, we can preserve the idea that we can directly satisfy rational requirements through reasoning. (shrink)
Previous work suggests that moral intensity and the perceived importance of an ethical issue can influence individual ethical decision making. However, prior research has not explored how the various dimensions of moral intensity might differentially affect PIE, or how moral intensity might function together with (or in the presence of) PIE to influence ethical decision making. In addition, prior work has also not adequately investigated how the operational context of an organization, which may embody conditions or practices that create barriers (...) to ethical decision making, may differ from other functional areas of an organization. Consequently, this study investigated the relationships among moral intensity, perceived ethical issue importance, and three stages of the ethical reasoning process: recognition of an ethical issue, ethical judgment, and ethical intention. Using an internet-based, self-report survey containing two operations management scenarios and various ethics measures, information was collected from business professionals working for a Midwestern financial services organization. The hierarchical regression results indicated that some dimensions of moral intensity were positively related to PIE, ethical issue recognition, and ethical judgment, and that PIE was associated with increased ethical issue recognition and ethical judgment. The steps of ethical reasoning were also positively interrelated. (shrink)
“Since today is Saturday, the grocery store is open today and will be closed tomorrow; so let’s go today”. That is an example of everyday practical reasoning—reasoning directly with the propositions that one believes but may not be fully certain of. Everyday practical reasoning is one of our most familiar kinds of decisions but, unfortunately, some foundational questions about it are largely ignored in the standard decision theory: (Q1) What are the decision rules in everyday practical (...) class='Hi'>reasoning that connect qualitative belief and desire to preference over acts? (Q2) What sort of logic should govern qualitative beliefs in everyday practical reasoning, and to what extent is that logic necessary for the purposes of qualitative decisions? (Q3) What kinds of qualitative decisions are always representable as results of everyday practical reasoning? (Q4) Under what circumstances do the results of everyday practical reasoning agree with the Bayesian ideal of expected utility maximization? This paper proposes a rigorous decision theory for answering all of those questions, which is developed in parallel to Savage’s (1954) foundation of expected utility maximization. In light of a new representation result, everyday practical reasoning provides a sound and complete method for a very wide class of qualitative decisions; and, to that end, qualitative beliefs must be allowed to be closed under classical logic plus a well-known nonmonotonic logic—the so-called system ℙ. (shrink)
This position paper advocates combining formal epistemology and the new paradigm psychology of reasoning in the studies of conditionals and reasoning with uncertainty. The new paradigm psychology of reasoning is characterized by the use of probability theory as a rationality framework instead of classical logic, used by more traditional approaches to the psychology of reasoning. This paper presents a new interdisciplinary research program which involves both formal and experimental work. To illustrate the program, the paper discusses (...) recent work on the paradoxes of the material conditional, nonmonotonic reasoning, and Adams’ Thesis. It also identifies the issue of updating on conditionals as an area which seems to call for a combined formal and empirical approach. (shrink)
Contemporary reasoning about health is infused with the work products of experts, and expert reasoning about health itself is an active site for invention and design. Building on Toulmin’s largely undeveloped ideas on field-dependence, we argue that expert fields can develop new inference rules that, together with the backing they require, become accepted ways of drawing and defending conclusions. The new inference rules themselves function as warrants, and we introduce the term “warranting device” to refer to an assembly (...) of the rule plus whatever material, procedural, and institutional resources are required to assure its dependability. We present a case study on the Cochrane Review, a new method for synthesizing evidence across large numbers of scientific studies. After reviewing the evolution and current structure of the device, we discuss the distinctive kinds of critical questions that may be raised around Cochrane Reviews, both within the expert field and beyond. Although Toulmin’s theory of field-dependence is often criticized for its relativism, we find that, as a matter of practical fact, field-specific warrants do not enjoy immunity from external critique. On the contrary, they can be opened to evaluation and critique from any interested perspective. (shrink)
This paper compares the moral reasoning of 363 auditors from Canada and the United States. We investigate whether national institutional context is associated with differences in auditors'' moral reasoning by examining three components of auditors'' moral decision process: (1) moral development, which describes cognitive moral capability, (2) prescriptive reasoning of how a realistic accounting dilemma ought to be resolved and, (3) deliberative reasoning of how a realistic accounting dilemma will be resolved. Not surprisingly, it appears that (...) institutional factors are more likely to be associated with auditors'' deliberative reasoning than their prescriptive reasoning in both countries. Additionally, our findings suggest that the national institutional context found in the United States, which has a tougher regulatory and more litigious environment, appears to better encourage auditors to deliberate according to what they perceive is "the ideal" judgment as compared to the Canadian context. We then discuss the implications of these findings for regulators and for ethics research. (shrink)