Ending the Rationality Wars

Richard Samuels, Stephen Stich and Michael Bishop

in Collected Papers, Volume 2

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199733477
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949823 | DOI:
Ending the Rationality Wars

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This chapter argues that much of the dispute between evolutionary psychologists and those in the heuristics and biases tradition is itself an illusion. The fireworks generated by each side focusing on the rhetorical excesses of the other have distracted attention from what is, in fact, an emerging consensus about the scope and limits of human rationality and about the cognitive architecture that supports it. The central goal of this chapter is to refocus the discussion away from the rhetoric of the debate between evolutionary psychology and the heuristics and biases tradition and toward this emerging consensus on fundamental points. The chapter is organized as follows. Section 2 briefly outlines the two research programs and explains the core claims and the rhetorical excesses on both sides. Section 3 argues that it is implausible to maintain that either research program rejects the core claims of the other. Once this is accomplished 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. Section 4 briefly outlines and discusses some genuine disagreements between evolutionary psychology and the heuristics and biases tradition.

Keywords: evolutionary psychology; heuristics; biases; human rationality; cognitive architecture

Chapter.  15655 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy

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