Theoretical Rationality

Robert Audi

in The Oxford Handbook of Rationality

Published in print February 2004 | ISBN: 9780195145397
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:
Theoretical Rationality


This article presents an account of the nature and chief varieties of theoretical rationality, conceived mainly as the rationality of cognitions—especially, beliefs. It describes the essential sources of theoretically rational cognitions: perception, memory, consciousness, reason, and testimony. It also examines the role of coherence in accounting for rational belief and distinguishes the evidential and conceptual roles of coherence. In the light of its account of sources of belief and knowledge, this article describes the structure of a rational system of cognitions in persons whose beliefs reflect both direct responsiveness to basic sources of cognition—such as perception—and inferences that build on those sources. It considers conditions for rational change of belief, and it sketches structural and developmental aspects of a person's theoretical rationality. In the concluding sections, this article discusses the scope of theoretical rationality and the kind of cognitive integration it requires.

Keywords: theoretical rationality; perception; memory; consciousness; reason; testimony

Article.  12734 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Epistemology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribeRecommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »