Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy

Rui Silva

University of the Azores

Naturalism and Normativism in the Theory of Rationality

16 March 2018, 16:00

Faculdade de Letras de Lisboa

Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia)

Abstract: According to a traditional and influential view, human beings are rational beings and the norms of human rationality are given by normative theories like logic, probability theory or rational choice theory. However, empirical research over the last decades in the field of cognitive science and psychology has challenged this traditional view. On the one hand, the so-called heuristics-and-biases program (sometimes erroneously interpreted as claiming that humans are irrational) investigated common and widespread violations of normative principles of rationality. On the other hand, proponents of a ‘bounded’ or ‘ecological’ rationality argue that human rationality should be understood in naturalistic and evolutionary terms, in sharp contrast with normative theories. I propose a conciliatory approach to the conflict between normativism and naturalism in the theory of rationality, inspired by a particular version of the method of reflective equilibrium, according to which the acceptance of normative principles as standards of human rationality should be balanced against our common intuitions, considerations of psychological plausibility and educational constraints.