Reason is not Rational

Long ago reading Derek Parfit's 'Reasons And Persons' I became fascinated with all the reasons we give for our actions. Parfit was interested in the various ways we rationalize our behavior and our justifications in a secular world. One item that fascinated me was the debate on self interest and actual behavior. I had had a long debate arguing 'self interest' is not the only motivating factor in our decision making. My wife told me just recently that I am never self centered. I liked that thought. Finding this piece adds to the complexity of reasons and persons.

"Reasoning was not designed to pursue the truth. Reasoning was designed by evolution to help us win arguments. That's why they call it The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning. So, as they put it,[b]"The evidence reviewed here shows not only that reasoning falls quite short of reliably delivering rational beliefs and rational decisions. It may even be, in a variety of cases, detrimental to rationality. Reasoning can lead to poor outcomes, not because humans are bad at it, but because they systematically strive for arguments that justify their beliefs or their actions. This explains the confirmation bias, motivated reasoning, and reason-based choice, among other things." Read article here.

'Why Do Humans Reason? Arguments for an Argumentative Theory'

"Reasoning is generally seen as a means to improve knowledge and make better decisions. However, much evidence shows that reasoning often leads to epistemic distortions and poor decisions. This suggests that the function of reasoning should be rethought. Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative. It is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade. Reasoning so conceived is adaptive given the exceptional dependence of humans on communication and their vulnerability to misinformation." Read article here.


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