This tag is associated with 5 posts

Daniel Kahneman on bias, reason and the human sciences

In this recent interview with Nigel Warburton, pioneering psychology researcher Daniel Kahneman discusses how we think vs. how we think we think. We like to believe that we come to conclusions – about politics, for example – by applying our capacity for conscious reasoning. After all, we’re reasonable people, aren’t we? Kahneman explains the more common process of coming to conclusions subconsciously, largely emotionally, and then applying reason to ratify our decisions.… Read the rest

Evolution, reason and rhetoric

Reason has long been considered one of the hallmarks of being human. It’s a tool we have developed – or so the story goes – to help us on our path towards truth, an evolutionary adaptation that allows us the better to evaluate situations and come to correct decisions. Maybe. Hugo Mercer and Dan Sperber, cognitive social scientists advocating what is being called the argumentative theory of reasoning, think otherwise. They have argued that reason developed not as a truth-finding tool, but as a social tool to help us to win arguments. For a concise account of their groundbreaking work, see this NY Times article.… Read the rest

Memory and identity

When we try to explain to ourselves or to others what constitutes our core self – if indeed to try to do this at all – we often turn to our past experiences. Surely a large part of who we are is what we have experienced and the knowledge we have acquired along the way. But is there more to the self than experience? Would remain in any sense ourselves if our memories were taken from us? Over at The Atlantic, Daniel Levitin takes a closer look at the case of retrograde amnesia and the self that remains when memory is lost.… Read the rest

The perils of reason

Reason is one of the most powerful tools we have in understanding the world around us. Most of us consider ourselves to be reasonable people, yet reason is a complicated business. Biases, fallacies, and unexamined suppressed premises can lead even careful thinkers astray and make reason a perilous road on the way to truth. This famous scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail underlines just how tricky the actual application of reason can be.… Read the rest

Begging to Differ

Article by Catherine Z Elgin from The Philosophers’ Magazine.
Disagreement abounds. People disagree about everything from sports and politics to science and child rearing. When disagreements stem from the manifest ignorance, bias, or stupidity of one of the disputants, they are epistemologically benign. That someone who clearly does not know what he is talking about disagrees with you gives you no reason to rethink your position. But some disagreements are more worrisome. Equally intelligent, knowledgeable, thoughtful and open-minded people often disagree. Let us call such parties intellectual equals. Should disagreements among intellectual equals give us pause? Read more at The Philosophers’ Magazine. Read the rest

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