Reflective Equilibrium

Edward Stein

in Without Good Reason

Published in print December 1997 | ISBN: 9780198237730
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191679520 | DOI:

Series: Clarendon Library of Logic and Philosophy

Reflective Equilibrium

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This chapter presents an argument for the rationality thesis which says that human reasoning competence cannot diverge from the normative principles of reasoning because both the normative principles and competence are intimately connected with our intuitions about what constitutes good reasoning. As such, the conclusion of the argument requires interpreting the reasoning experiments as not in fact providing evidence for the irrationality thesis. The chapter deals with both the general version of this argument and a particular version of it that thaws on the epistemological theory of reflective equilibrium. After sketching the general argument and analyzing why it might initially seem plausible, the chapter spells out the reflective equilibrium version of the argument for the rationality thesis. According to the reflective equilibrium argument, the normative principles of reasoning come from our intuitions about what constitutes good reasoning, and our intuitions about what constitutes good reasoning come from our reasoning competence. The chapter argues that norms of grammaticality are indexed to actual facts about human psychology, neurophysiology, and the like, whereas norms of reasoning are not.

Keywords: rationality; irrationality; reasoning competence; intuitions; normative principles; reflective equilibrium; grammaticality; psychology; neurophysiology

Chapter.  14455 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind

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