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Self-Knowledge for Humans$
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Quassim Cassam

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199657575

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199657575.001.0001

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Psychological Rationalism

Psychological Rationalism

(p.58) 6 Psychological Rationalism
Self-Knowledge for Humans

Quassim Cassam

Oxford University Press

Psychological Rationalism questions the grounds for positing an extensive disparity between homo sapiens and homo philosophicus. It argues instead for the Similarity Thesis, according to which we are sufficiently similar to homo philosophicus for our self-knowledge to be explicable in rationalist terms. Interpretationists like Davidson and Dennett argue that a person’s propositional attitudes must be mostly rational. In response, it is argued that the interpretationist argument for the Similarity Thesis exaggerates the constitutive role of the ideal of rationality in interpretation. We can and do make sense of believers and their beliefs other than on the basis of considerations of rationality. Only absolute irrationality is ruled out by interpretationism. A different rationalist strategy is to question empirical arguments against the Similarity Thesis. It is shown that rationalist objections to empirical arguments against the Similarity Thesis have little merit.

Keywords:   Psychological Rationalism, homo philosophicus, homo sapiens, Similarity Thesis, Donald Davidson, Daniel Dennett, propositional attitudes, rationality, interpretation, interpretationism

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