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Rationality, biology and optimality

Price, Carolyn (2002). Rationality, biology and optimality. Biology and Philosophy, 17(5) pp. 613–634.

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A historical theory of rational norms claims that, if we are supposed to think rationally, this is because it is biologically normal for us to do so. The historical theorist is committed to the view that we are supposed to think rationally only if, in the past, adult humans sometimes thought rationally. I consider whether there is any plausible model of rational norms that can be adopted by the historical theorist that is compatible with the claim that adult human beings are subject to rational norms, given certain plausible empirical assumptions about our history and capabilities. I suggest that there is one such model: this model centres on the idea that a procedure is rational if it has been endorsed (or at least not rejected) by mechanisms that have the function to ensure that the subject learns to reason in a way that approaches a certain kind of optimality.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2003 Kluwer Academic Publishers
ISSN: 0169-3867
Keywords: philosophy; rationality; biology; history; function; learning; normativity; optimality
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Social Sciences and Global Studies > Philosophy
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS) > Social Sciences and Global Studies
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)
Item ID: 2631
Depositing User: Carolyn Price
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2006
Last Modified: 06 Aug 2019 08:24
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