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EpistemologyNew Essays$
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Quentin Smith

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199264933

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199264933.001.0001

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Irrationality and Cognition

Irrationality and Cognition

(p.249) 10 Irrationality and Cognition

John L. Pollock

Oxford University Press

This chapter presents an account of irrationality in an attempt to shed light on rational cognition. It argues that practical irrationality derives from a general difficulty in overriding Q&I modules. Epistemic irrationality is possible because we are reflexive cognizers, and hence practical irrationality can affect our epistemic cognition. The upshot is that one cannot give a theory of epistemic rationality or epistemic justification without simultaneously giving a theory of practical rationality. A consequence of this account is that a theory of rationality is a descriptive theory, describing contingent features of a cognitive architecture, and it forms the core of a general theory of voluntary cognition. Most of the so-called rules for rationality that philosophers have proposed are really just rules describing default (non-reflexive) cognition, and it can be perfectly rational for a reflexive cognizer to break these rules.

Keywords:   rationality, Q&I modules, epistemology, practical cognition, cognition

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