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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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Predictably Irrational?

Predictably Irrational?

(p.86) 8 Predictably Irrational?
Self-Knowledge for Humans

Quassim Cassam

Oxford University Press

Behavioural economists like Ariely claim than humans are predictably irrational. However, not being homo philosophicus does not make us irrational, and what Ariely describes as irrationality is more plausibly understood as self-ignorance. Self-ignorance and irrationality are different things. As Scanlon argues, irrationality in the clearest sense occurs when a person’s attitudes fail to conform to his or her own judgements. In this sense, attitude recalcitrance is irrational but belief perseverance is not. A distinction is drawn between an attitude’s being irrational and its being open to rational criticism, and it is argued that fewer of our choices and attitudes are irrational than behavioural economists and some philosophers such as Stich would have us believe.

Keywords:   behavioural economists, Ariely, homo philosophicus, irrationality, self-ignorance, Thomas Scanlon, attitude recalcitrance, belief perseverance, Stephen Stich

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