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Encyclopedia > Rationality

Rationality as a term is related to the idea of reason, a word which following Webster's may be derived as much from older terms referring to thinking itself as from giving an account or an explanation. This lends the term a dual aspect. One aspect associates it with comprehension, intelligence, or inference, particularly when an inference is drawn in ordered ways (thus a syllogism is a rational argument in this sense). The other part associates rationality with explanation, understanding or justification, particularly if it provides a ground or a motive. 'Irrational', therefore, is defined as that which is not endowed with reason or understanding. Image File history File links Broom_icon. ... 1888 advertisement for Websters Dictionary Websters Dictionary is a common title given to English language dictionaries in the United States, deriving its name from American lexicographer Noah Webster. ... Thought or thinking is a mental process which allows beings to model the world, and so to deal with it effectively according to their goals, plans, ends and desires. ... A syllogism (Greek: — conclusion, inference), usually the categorical syllogism, is a kind of logical argument in which one proposition (the conclusion) is inferred from two others (the premises) of a certain form. ...

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Rationality contra logic

A logical argument is sometimes described as "rational" if it is logically valid. However, rationality is a much broader term than logic, as it includes "uncertain but sensible" arguments based on probability, expectation, personal experience and the like, whereas logic deals principally with provable facts and demonstrably valid relations between them. For example, ad hominem arguments are logically unsound, but in many cases they may be rational. A simple philosophical definition of rationality refers to one's use of a "practical syllogism". For example, In logic, an argument is a set of statements, consisting of a number of premises, a number of inferences, and a conclusion, which is said to have the following property: if the premises are true, then the conclusion must be true or highly likely to be true. ... In logic, the form of an argument is valid precisely if it cannot lead from true premises to a false conclusion. ... Look up ad hominem in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ...

I am cold
If I close the window I will not be cold
Therefore, I closed the window

We should note that standard form practical syllogisms follow a very specific format and are always valid if constructed correctly though they are not necessarily sound. There are several notable implications of such a definition. First, rationality is objective - it exists only when a valid practical syllogism is used. Second, a choice is either rational or it is not - there is no gradation since there is no gradation between valid and invalid arguments. Third, rationality only applies to actions - i.e., shutting the window is a rational thing to do if you are cold (assuming it is cold outside). Evidence bears on belief but not on rationality. All that is required for an action to be rational is that you believe that X and that that if X then Y so you do Y. Arguments about belief are couched in the terms valid and sound - logically you must believe something if the argument supporting it is sound. In some cases, such as religious belief, the argument may be valid but its soundness cannot be known for the truth of its premises cannot be known.


Rationality in the humanities and social sciences

In philosophy, rationality and reason are the key methods used to analyse the data gathered through systematically gathered observations. In economics, sociology, and political science, a decision or situation is often called rational if it is in some sense optimal, and individuals or organizations are often called rational if they tend to act somehow optimally in pursuit of their goals. Thus one speaks, for example, of a rational allocation of resources, or of a rational corporate strategy. In this concept of "rationality", the individual's goals or motives are taken for granted and not made subject to criticism, ethical or otherwise. Thus rationality simply refers to the success of goal attainment, whatever those goals may be. Sometimes, in this context, rationality is equated with behavior that is self-interested to the point of being selfish. Sometimes rationality implies having complete knowledge about all the details of a given situation. It might be said that because the goals are not important in definition of rationality, it really only demands logical consistency in choice making. See rational choice theory. For other uses, see Philosophy (disambiguation). ... ‹ The template below is being considered for deletion. ... Sociology (from Latin: socius, companion; and the suffix -ology, the study of, from Greek λόγος, lógos, knowledge) is an academic and applied discipline that studies society and human social interaction. ... The Politics series Politics Portal This box:      Political Science is the field concerning the theory and practice of politics and the description and analysis of political systems and political behaviour. ... An organisation (or organization — see spelling differences) is a social arrangement which pursues collective goals, which controls its own performance, and which has a boundary separating it from its environment. ... Rational choice theory assumes human behavior is guided by instrumental reason. ...


Debates arise in these three fields about whether or not people or organizations are "really" rational, as well as whether it make sense to model them as such in formal models. Some have argued that a kind of bounded rationality makes more sense for such models. Others think that any kind of rationality along the lines of rational choice theory is a useless concept for understanding human behavior; the term homo economicus (economic man: the imaginary logically consistent but amoral being assumed in economic models) was coined largely in honor of this view. Many models of human behavior in the social sciences assume that humans can be reasonably approximated or described as rational entities, especially as conceived by rational choice theory. ... Homo economicus, or Economic man, is the concept in some economic theories of man (that is, a human) as a rational and self-interested actor who desires wealth, avoids unnecessary labor, and has the ability to make judgments towards those ends. ...


Rationality is a central principle in artificial intelligence, where a rational agent is specifically defined as an agent which always chooses the action which maximises its expected performance, given all of the knowledge it currently possesses. Bold text[[Link title]] “AI” redirects here. ...


Quality of Rationality

It is believed by most philosophers i.e a.c graying and experts, that a good rationale must be independent of emotions, personal feelings or any kind of instincts. Any process of evaluation or analysis, that may be called rational, is expected to be highly objective, logical and "mechanical". If these minimum requirements are not satisfied i.e. if a person has been highly influenced by personal emotions, feelings, instincts or culturally specific, moral codes and norms, then the analysis may be termed irrational.


Theories of rationality

The German sociologist Max Weber proposed an interpretation of social action that distinguished between four different types of rationality. The first, which he called Zweckrational or purposive/instrumental rationality, is related to the expectations about the behavior of other human beings or objects in the environment. These expectations serve as means for a particular actor to attain ends, ends which Weber noted were "rationally pursued and calculated." The second type, Weber called Wertrational or value/belief-oriented. Here the action is undertaken for what one might call reasons intrinsic to the actor: some ethical, aesthetic, religious or other motive, independent of whether it will lead to success. The third type was affectual, determined by an actor's specific affect, feeling, or emotion - to which Weber himself said that this was a kind of rationality that was on the borderline of what he considered "meaningfully oriented." The fourth was traditional, determined by ingrained habituation. Weber emphasized that it was very unusual to find only one of these orientations: combinations were the norm. His usage also makes clear that he considered the first two as more significant than the others, and it is arguable that the third and fourth are subtypes of the first two. These kinds of rationality were ideal types. For the politician, see Max Weber (politician). ...


The advantage in this interpretation is that it avoids a value-laden assessment, say, that certain kinds of beliefs are irrational. Instead, Weber suggests that a ground or motive can be given – for religious or affect reasons, for example — that may meet the criterion of explanation or justification even if it is not an explanation that fits the Zweckrational orientation of means and ends. The opposite is therefore also true: some means-ends explanations will not satisfy those whose grounds for action are 'Wertrational'.


Based on the premise that 'feelings of worthlessness' are a maladaptive byproduct of the evolution of rationality, Phil Roberts, Jr. has proposed a theory in which the rationality of an end is presumed to correlate with the comprehensiveness of its underlying considerations, and in which no concrete objective is presumed to be rational in any but a relative sense of the term. In addition to its ability to explain what morality is (a shared subconscious theory of rationality), Roberts has also demonstrated how his theory can be employed to address a number of rationality paradoxes, including the paradox of rational irrationality, cognitive versus practical rationality conflict, the "rationality debate" (Cohen vs. Kahneman and Tversky) and the paradox of the Prisoner's Dilemma.[1]


Use of the term rational

In a number of kinds of speech, "rational" may also denote a hodge-podge of generally positive attributes, including:

  • reasonable: "having sound judgement and practical implementation" (Webster's)
  • reasonable: "not extreme or excessive" (Webster's)
  • justifiable on the basis of reason. (logical)
  • economical, not wasteful ("rational management," "to rationalise" something)
  • not foolish
  • coherent

... Look up Justification in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... For other uses, see Reason (disambiguation). ... Logic (from ancient Greek λόγος (logos), meaning reason) is the study of arguments. ... In economics, rationalisation is an attempt to change a pre-existing ad-hoc workflow into one that is based on a set of published rules. ...

See also

Many models of human behavior in the social sciences assume that humans can be reasonably approximated or described as rational entities, especially as conceived by rational choice theory. ... In fully cooperative games players act efficiently when they form a single coalition, the grand coalition. ... Irrationality is talking or acting without regard of rationality. ... In economics and game theory, the participants are sometimes considered to have perfect rationality: that is, they always act in a rational way, and are capable of arbitrarily complex deductions towards that end. ... In the context of knowledge-based systems, Newell (in 1982) proposed the following principle of rationality: If an agent has knowledge that one of its actions will lead to one of its goals, then the agent will select that action. ... There were four classic laws of thought recognised in European thought of the seventeenth and eighteenth century, which held sway also during nineteenth century (while subject to greater debate). ... Rational choice theory assumes human behavior is guided by instrumental reason. ... In mathematics, a rational number is a number which can be expressed as a ratio of two integers. ... // Economics In economics, satisficing is a behaviour which attempts to achieve at least some minimum level of a particular variable, but which does not strive to achieve its maximum possible value. ... Rational pricing is the assumption in financial economics that asset prices (and hence asset pricing models) will reflect the arbitrage-free price of the asset as any deviation from this price will be arbitraged away. This assumption is useful in pricing fixed income securities, particularly bonds, and is fundamental to... Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a comprehensive, active-directive, philosophically and empirically based psychotherapy which focuses on resolving cognitive, emotional, and behavioral problems in human beings. ... The concept of superrationality is discussed in Douglas Hofstadters book Metamagical Themas. Superrationality is based on the idea that two perfect logicians will come up with the same, correct, answer to a logical or mathematical problem. ...

External links and references

  • What is rationality?
  • Reason and Rationality, by Richard Samuels, Stephen Stich, Luc Faucher on the broad field of reason and rationality from descriptive, normative, and evaluative points of view
  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Historicist Theories of Rationality
  • Legal Reasoning After Post-Modern Critiques of Reason, by Peter Suber
  • Spohn, W. (2002). The Many Facets of the Theory of Rationality. Croatian Journal of Philosophy 2: 247-262.
  • Anand, P (1993). Foundations of Rational Choice Under Risk, Oxford, Oxford University Press
  • Nozick, Robert (1993). The Nature of Rationality. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

  Results from FactBites:
 
Rationality (399 words)
Rationality is the habit of acting by reason, which means in accordance with the facts of reality.
A second consequence to acting irrationally is that it undermines one's ability to act rationally in the future.
Rationality is in your self interest because the only way to achieve desired outcomes is to act according to reality.
Rationality - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (779 words)
However, rationality is a much broader term than logic, as it includes "uncertain but sensible" arguments based on probability, expectation, personal experience and the like, whereas logic deals principally with provable facts and demonstrably valid relations between them.
Others think that any kind of rationality along the lines of rational choice theory is a useless concept for understanding human behavior; the term homo economicus (economic man: the imaginary logically consistent but amoral being assumed in economic models) was coined largely in honor of this view.
Rationality is a central principle in artificial intelligence, where a rational agent is specifically defined as an agent which always chooses the action which maximises its expected performance, given all of the knowledge it currently possesses.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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