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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

Chapter:
(p.249) 10 Irrationality and Cognition
Source:
Epistemology
Author(s):

John L. Pollock

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199264933.003.0011

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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