Empirical Evidence of Irrationality

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


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.


Scientific Knowledge Cognitive Bias Deductive Reasoning Feminist Movement Dutch Book 
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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

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

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