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The Oxford Handbook of Rationality$
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Alfred R. Mele and Piers Rawling

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780195145397

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2005

DOI: 10.1093/0195145399.001.0001

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RATIONALITY AND PSYCHOLOGY

RATIONALITY AND PSYCHOLOGY

Chapter:
(p.279) chapter 15 RATIONALITY AND PSYCHOLOGY
Source:
The Oxford Handbook of Rationality
Author(s):

Richard. Samuels (Contributor Webpage)

Stephen. Stich (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0195145399.003.0015

Samuels and Stich explore the debate over the extent to which ordinary human reasoning and decision making is rational. One prominent cluster of views, often associated with the heuristics and biases tradition in psychology, maintains that human reasoning is, in important respects, normatively problematic or irrational. Samuels and Stich start by sketching some key experimental findings from this tradition and describe a range of pessimistic claims about the rationality of ordinary people that these and related findings are sometimes taken to support. Such pessimistic interpretations of the experimental findings have not gone unchallenged however: Samuels and Stich outline some of the research on reasoning that has been done by evolutionary psychologists and sketch a cluster of more optimistic theses about ordinary reasoning that such psychologists defend. Although Samuels and Stich think that the most dire pronouncements made by writers in the heuristics and biases tradition are unwarranted, they also maintain that the situation is rather more pessimistic than sometimes suggested by evolutionary psychologists. They conclude by defending this “middle way” and sketch a family of “dual processing” theories of reasoning which, they argue, offer some support for the moderate interpretation they advocate.

Keywords:   bias, dual processing, evolution, experiment, heuristic, optimism, ordinary reasoning, normativity, pessimism, psychology

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