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What is the value of rationality, and why does it matter?

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Rationality is a widely discussed term. Economists and other social scientists routinely talk about rational agents making rational choices in light of their rational expectations. It’s also common in philosophy, especially in those areas that are concerned with understanding and evaluating human thinking, actions, and institutions. But what exactly is rationality? In the past, most philosophers assumed that the central notion of rationality is a normative or evaluative concept: to think rationally is to think ‘properly’ or ‘well’—in other words, to think as one ‘should’ think. Rational thinking is in a sense good thinking, while irrational thinking is bad. Recently, however, philosophers have raised several objections to that assumption. First of all, how can it be true that you should never think irrationally, if you sometimes can’t help it? Secondly, picture a scenario where you would be punished for thinking rationally—wouldn’t it be good to. . .

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News source: OUPblog » Philosophy

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