Chapter

Psychological Evidence

Edward Stein

in Without Good Reason

Published in print December 1997 | ISBN: 9780198237730
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679520 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198237730.003.0003

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy

Psychological Evidence

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The primary evidence for the irrationality thesis – the view that humans have an underlying ability to reason that is appropriately characterized by principles that diverge from the normative principles of reasoning – comes from psychological research concerning human reasoning. Such research is supposed to show that humans systematically violate basic principles of reasoning. This chapter reviews two important psychological experiments. The first concerns whether we reason in accordance with principles of reasoning based on rules of logic, and the second concerns whether we reason in accordance with principles of reasoning based on rules of probability theory. Both experiments seem prima facie to provide evidence that human reasoning competence diverges from the normative principles of reasoning. As part of the discussion of each experiment, the chapter also examines particular instances of a general strategy to reconcile such experimental results with the rationality thesis.

Keywords: irrationality thesis; reasoning; normative principles; experiments; humans; logic; probability theory; rationality thesis

Chapter.  12979 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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