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Without Good ReasonThe Rationality Debate in Philosophy and Cognitive Science$
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Edward Stein

Print publication date: 1997

Print ISBN-13: 9780198237730

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198237730.001.0001

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(p.1) 1 Introduction
Without Good Reason

Edward Stein

Oxford University Press

According to experiments done over the past few decades, humans make significant errors in various realms of reasoning: logical reasoning, probabilistic reasoning, similarity judgements, and risk assessment, to name a few. Together, these experiments, called reasoning experiments, are taken to show that humans are irrational. Some philosophers and psychologists have developed creative and appealing arguments that these experiments are mistaken or misinterpreted because humans must be rational. This chapter examines the various arguments for human rationality and for the existence of limits to cognitive science and science in general. It shows that these arguments fail and that cognitive science can and should play a role in determining whether or not humans are rational. The discussion has implications for the distinction between empirical and conceptual knowledge, the proper relationship between philosophy and science, and for the project of epistemology. In particular, the chapter suggests that the traditional approach to knowledge errs by ignoring the important role science should play in epistemology.

Keywords:   humans, reasoning, rationality, cognitive science, knowledge, philosophy, science, epistemology

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