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A Theory of Irrationality as a 'Reasonable' Response to an Incomplete Specification

Robyn M. Dawes
Synthese
Vol. 122, No. 1/2, Rationality (Jan. - Feb., 2000), pp. 133-163
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20118246
Page Count: 31
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A Theory of Irrationality as a 'Reasonable' Response to an Incomplete Specification
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Abstract

Suppose the principles explaining how the human mind (brain) reaches logical conclusions and judgments were different from -- and independent of -- those involved in normatively valid reasoning. Then such principles should affect both conclusion generation and recognition that particular conclusions are or are not justified. People, however, demonstrate a discrepancy between impaired performance in generating logical conclusions as opposed to rather impressive competence in recognizing rational (versus irrational) ones. This discrepancy is hypothesized to arise from often generating an incomplete specification of a logical or judgmental problem when attempting to solve it -- versus a recognition of such incompleteness when it is pointed out. The basic argument is developed, with common examples, in the context of specifying or failing to specify all possible combinations in simple logical arguments and is then extended to probabilistic reasoning, where complete versus incomplete specification corresponds to attending to all or to only some components of Bayes theorem-based reasoning.

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