Ending the Rationality Wars How to Make Disputes about Human Rationality Disappear

Richard Samuels, Stephen Stich and Michael Bishop

in Common Sense, Reasoning, and Rationality

Published in print February 2002 | ISBN: 9780195147667
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199785865 | DOI:

Series: New Directions in Cognitive Science (formerly Vancouver Studies in Cognitive Science)

 Ending the Rationality Wars How to Make Disputes about Human Rationality Disappear

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This chapter focuses on the two opposing sides of the current rationality wars with the “heuristics and biases” researchers on the one hand, and the evolutionary psychologists on the other. The former group cites decades of evidence that people have systematic deviations from rationality, as evidenced by their performance on certain types of formal reasoning tasks. The latter group asserts the implausibility of the human architecture evolving with an inaccurate sense of probability and offers evidence that a representation of various formal problems in more ecologically valid forms makes the so-called irrational response patterns disappear. It is argued that the illusion that evolutionary psychology and the heuristics and biases tradition have a deep disagreement about how rational human beings are should disappear. This is not to say, however, that there are no genuine disagreements between these two research programs.

Keywords: heuristics; biases; rationality; evolutionary psychologists; deviations

Chapter.  15642 words. 

Subjects: Metaphysics

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