Reasoning and Rationality

Colin Allen, Peter M. Todd and Jonathan M. Weinberg

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Cognitive Science

Published in print January 2012 | ISBN: 9780195309799
Published online May 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Reasoning and Rationality

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Epistemology


Show Summary Details


The article explores five parts of Cartesian thought that include individualism, internalism, rationalism, universalism, and human exceptionalism demonstrating the philosophical and psychological theories of rationality. Ecological rationality comes about through the coadaptation of minds and their environments. The internal bounds comprising the capacities of the cognitive system can be shaped by evolution, learning, or development to take advantage of the structure of the external environment. The external bounds, comprising the structure of information available in the environment, can be shaped by the effects of minds making decisions in the world, including most notably in humans the process of cultural evolution. The internal constraints on decision-making including limited computational power and limited memory in the organism and the external ones include limited time push toward simple cognitive mechanisms for making decisions quickly and without much information. Human exceptionalism is one of the strands of Residual Cartesianism that puts the greatest focus on language and symbolic reasoning as the basis for human rationality. The invention of symbolic systems exhibits how humans deliberately and creatively alter their environments to enhance learning and memory and to support reasoning. Nonhuman animals also alter their environments in ways that support adaptive behavior. Stigmergy, an important mechanism for swarm intelligence, is the product of interactions among multiple agents and their environments. It is enhanced through cumulative modification, of the environment by individuals.

Keywords: reasoning and rationality; residual Cartesianism; ecological rationality; social rationality; individualism; human exceptionalism

Article.  8781 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Mind ; Epistemology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.