Advertisement

Empirical Evidence of Irrationality

  • Kevin McCain
Chapter
  • 166k Downloads
Part of the Springer Undergraduate Texts in Philosophy book series (SUTP)

Abstract

Whereas the previous two chapters responded to philosophical challenges to our scientific knowledge this chapter explores a more practical threat to scientific knowledge. This challenge comes from research which suggests we are subject to a number of biases and irrational processes when forming our beliefs. Numerous studies have seemingly shown that people are prone to make systematic errors of reasoning in particular kinds of cases. Some take this evidence of human irrationality to undercut our knowledge in general, and hence, our scientific knowledge as well. This chapter argues that this challenge does not pose a significant threat to our scientific knowledge. Although there is evidence for human irrationality, we have ways of keeping this sort of irrationality contained so that it does not “infect” all of our beliefs. So, while we are prone to make systematic errors in certain cases, we are aware of our proclivities, and we can take steps to counteract our natural shortcomings.

Keywords

Scientific Knowledge Cognitive Bias Deductive Reasoning Feminist Movement Dutch Book 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Bonner, B. L., Baumann, M. R., & Dalal, R. S. (2002). The effects of member expertise on group decision making and performance. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 88, 719–736.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cohen, L. J. (1983). Can human irrationality be experimentally demonstrated? Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 6, 317–370.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Davidson, D. (1985). Incoherence and irrationality. Dialectica, 39, 345–354.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Dennett, D. C. (1978). Brainstorms. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  5. Dennett, D. C. (1987). The intentional stance. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  6. Feldman, R. (2003). Epistemology. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  7. Fielder, K. (1988). The dependence of the conjunction fallacy on subtle linguistic factors. Psychological Research, 50, 123–129.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Fine, C. (2006). A mind of its own: How your brain distorts and deceives. Cambridge, UK: Icon books.Google Scholar
  9. Gigerenzer, G. (1991). How to make cognitive illusions disappear: Beyond “heuristics and biases”. European Review of Social Psychology, 2, 83–115.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Gilovich, T. (1991). How we know what isn’t so: The fallibility of human reason in everyday life. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  11. Goldman, A. I. (1986). Epistemology and cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  12. Johnson-Laird, P., Legrenzi, P., & Legrenzi, M. (1972). Reasoning and a sense of reality. British Journal of Pyschology, 63, 395–400.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Kahneman, D. (2011). Thinking, fast and slow. New York: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.Google Scholar
  14. Kahneman, D., Slovic, P., & Tversky, A. (Eds.). (1982). Judgment under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Kelly, T. (2008). Disagreement, dogmatism, and belief polarization. Journal of Philosophy, 105, 611–633.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Laughlin, P. R., & Ellis, A. L. (1986). Demonstrability and social combination processes on mathematical intellective tasks. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 22, 177–189.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lord, C., Ross, L., & Lepper, M. (1979). Biased assimilation and attitude polarization: The effects of prior theories on subsequently considered evidence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 37, 2098–2109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Lycan, W. G. (1988). Judgement and justification. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Mercier, H., & Sperber, D. (2011). Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 34, 57–111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Millikan, R. G. (1984). Language, thought, and other biological categories. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  21. Moshman, D., & Geil, M. (1998). Collaborative reasoning: Evidence for collective rationality. Thinking and Reasoning, 4, 231–248.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nisbett, R., & Borgida, E. (1975). Attribution and the psychology of prediction. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 32, 932–943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nisbett, R., & Ross, L. (1980). Human inference: Strategies and shortcomings of social judgment. Englewood Cliffs: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  24. Plous, S. (1993). The psychology of judgment and decision making. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  25. Putnam, H. (1981). Reason, truth and history. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Quine, W. V. O. (1960). Word and object. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  27. Skyrms, B. (1986). Choice and chance (3rd ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  28. Slavin, R. E. (1995). Cooperative learning: Theory, research, and practice. London: Allyn and Bacon.Google Scholar
  29. Sober, E. (1981). The evolution of rationality. Synthese, 46, 95–120.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Sperber, D., & Mercier, H. (2014). Reasoning as social competence. In H. Landemore & J. Elster (Eds.), Collective wisdom: Principles and mechanisms (pp. 368–392). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  31. Stein, E. (1996). Without good reason: The rationality debate in philosophy and cognitive science. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  32. Stich, S. P. (1990). The fragmentation of reason: Preface to a pragmatic theory of cognitive evaluation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  33. Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1983). Extensional versus intuitive reasoning: The conjunction fallacy in probability judgment. Psychological Review, 90, 293–315.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Wason, P. (1966). Reasoning. In B. Foss (Ed.), New horizons in psychology (pp. 135–151). Harmondsworth: Penguin.Google Scholar
  35. Wason, P. (1968). Reasoning about a rule. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 20, 273–281.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Wason, P., & Johnson-Laird, P. (1972). Psychology of reasoning: Structure and content. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  37. Wason, P., & Shapiro, D. (1971). Natural and contrived experience in a reasoning problem. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 23, 63–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kevin McCain
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of Alabama at BirminghamBirminghamUSA

Personalised recommendations