International interdisciplinary symposium on rationality

Session speakers

Biography

Clément Lion (UMR STL 8163 – chercheur associé) is the author of L'intuitionnisme dialogique (Classiques Garnier 2023). He teaches philosophy in Saint-Omer.

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?

It is an artificial collective device intended to enable any human being to contribute to a general sketch of truth, whose dynamics depends on the fact that any contribution may be enriched in a critical way by any other possible contributor. It is accordingly an ideal universal framework that is assumed to be set up constructively by any individual or historical community and that exists depending on the fact that one believes it does.

What does rationality rule out?

Even though rationality seems to exclude violence as well as any attitude, that would a priori make a discussion impossible, the way an individual or a community will contribute to rationality may start from diverging from the ideal universal framework mentioned before, for instance by taking a way whose sketchy features excludes constructive criticism by not being understandable. Accordingly, irrationality – understood as following a path that diverges from the way rational space is commonly conceived – is a part of the dynamics of rationality.

How does your talk engage with rationality today?

It engages with rationality today, to the extent that it promotes a view on what sketching the truth together means, namely not setting up an a priori set of logical rules and undiscussable truths, that would enable rational agents to get theoretical and practical "results", but deploying tensions and divergences in order to express the complexity of any attempt to sketch collectively something like the truth. In other words, it promotes mutual understanding by admitting irreducible divergence as a compound of truth.

 

Abstract

Dialogical rationality, between Polyphony and Inconsistency

When defined – for instance by Kant – as the faculty to tend towards the systematic unity of representations, reason is assumed to be shared as one and the same by different persons or groups, which can accordingly be a priori regarded as reasonable to the extent that each of them is willing to submit oneself to it. Rationality could thus be seen as the domain of every acts and utterances when related to the horizon of such a requirement of internal consistency, that any reasonable person would be in position to assess in the name of anybody. The concrete ideal of reason would then consist in a system within which every position would be assessable according to its own logical relation with other positions, simultaneously assumed by reasonable agents. Such an ideal will never be actually carried out, but it holds as a reference according to which one can compare claims of reason (Cavell 1979).
Given that not every person – due to one’s form of life regarding free time, education, etc. – seems equally able to grasp every logical implication of a statement from a panoramic sight, it is to be conceded that rationality practically represents a means to classify different ways of grasping the world through more or less consistent theories : the more consistent a theory is, allegedly the better located will it be on the scale of rationality. Some parts from the history of philosophy are to be interpreted according to the project of deploying the better accomplishment of human reason. A philosophical end point can be represented as the expression of a dialectical overpassing of every previous sights as they were limited before in their conceptual ability to grasp the whole that each pretended it would.
Yet, it is clearly not the case that less consistent sights have to be disqualified when one particular sight reveals itself as being more consistent : no sight can ever be qualified as being fully consistent, given that no theoretical sight can ever be equivalent to the reality that it attempts to enclose into its concepts ; inconsistent theories can surely always be transformed into consistent ones while keeping their own main features. No philosophical sight can ever hold as an end point. If one takes this basic fact seriously, then a rational attitude cannot promote any sight that would be stated as definitely true, given that doing so would reduce several possible forms of truth to one unique system. In other words, rational attitude doesn’t have to promote a version of truth in particular but a plurality of such versions, provided that each of those is able to bring original perspective on the world, be it physical, cultural, social…etc. Or, to say it in another way, rationality would be rather a matter of keeping a space of play open between externally inconsistent
positions, whose mutual tension feeds theoretical dynamism by its own inconsistency, rather than a matter of finding the right way to define its own general object, namely truth. It doesn’t mean that
rationality has nothing to do with truth, because each way of combining concepts in order to provide a version of the world is to be motivated by the belief in its own truth, it rather means that, according to this reasoning, a properly rational attitude aims at something that transcends truth, namely plural and dynamic tension between irreducible versions of truth, as each of those contributes to reveal the internal inconsistency of the idea of a unique and univocal shape of reality.
In this proposal for a contribution to the Engaging Rationality Today International Symposium, we would like to question this essential equivocality of any act of reason, as it is stretched between the belief in its own (at least possible) truth and the irreducible belief that must be regarding the possible truth of rival beliefs, that are inconsistent with it. Our hypothesis is that rationality is not to be conceived through referring to one and the same ideal universal truth, that would represent a common a priori definable (in terms of consistency, for instance) purpose for every reasonable person. It is rather to be conceived as a space of play, such that any position that may be assumed about the world delivers its genuine meaning only by being confronted with alternate positions, that forces its dynamic explicitation, which is equivalent to the continuous construction of its proper meaning. We would like to show accordingly that inconsistency is not external to rationality, but that it is an essential feature of its own dynamism, by referring to Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of polyphony and by asking whether this conception, that was intended to give an account of Dostojevski’s novels, may represent a possible basis for a general theory of dialogic rationality.

Biography

I am a PhD student in philosophy at Nantes Université. The subject of my thesis is distrust, understood as a disposition towards another which appeals to their motives. I particularly focus on the fact that appeals to motives are irrefutable, and on the practical issues at stake.

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?

Rationality, when attributed to humans, which is at stake here, is the ability to think in the way best fitted to achieve the truth (theoretical rationality) or to reach a certain goal (practical rationality).
My point is that a certain confusion between theoretical rationality and practical rationality may lead to dangerous claims about the way rationality could help reducing violence. I take the latter,
which I will focus on, to involve instrumental reason relative to one’s desires. Thus, I adopt an instrumentalist and internalist conception of practical rationality: the rationality of one’s behavior
relates to their internal reasons to act, depending on their longings and wishes. Once rationality is understood this way, it is universal: anyone sharing the same premisses (including the motivating
impulse) should reach the same conclusion.

What does rationality rule out?

Rationality rules out anything which prevents from achieving the truth or reaching a certain decided goal.

How does your talk engage with rationality today?

My talk engages with rationality today by qualifying the idea that rationality should be a remedy against contemporary contentiousness and violence. Far from defending a relativist conception of
rationality, I wish to insist on the role of desires and personal longings in practical rationality in order to explain why one unified concept of rationality can be valid without rationality being the
essential defense against contentiousness in the world today. My talk will focus on the role of what people differently value in the emergence of misunderstandings potentially leading to relational
disasters. Relating those misunderstandings to differences of values rather than disagreements about what is rational avoids the excluding power associated with the promotion of rationality as a way to
resolve conflicts.
 

Abstract

Is rationality the essential defense against contentiousness and violence?

Rationality, as a tool to think together, is often considered as a necessary defense against contentiousness and violence. This conception is regularly critiqued as implying a positive
definition of rationality which would be excluding of other forms of reasoning. These critiques are associated with a possible threat: moral relativism. How will we be able to communicate about what
is right and wrong without considering rationality as the central criterion for common thinking? I will argue that the problem, formulated this way, is misguiding. We should not believe that
rationality is the central tool towards shared moral principles such as the search for understanding and peace. The distinction between theoretical rationality, which allows for moral reasoning, and
practical rationality, must be highlighted.
To distinguish between theoretical and practical rationality, it is useful to consider the difference between two forms of syllogism, the theoretical, or classical syllogism, and the practical syllogism notably put in the spotlight by Aristotelian tradition. Let’s insist on one character specific to practical syllogism, making it different from theoretical syllogism: the first premise is a personal impulse. It can happen that one’s impulse, wish, desire, follow certain moral principles, but it is utterly unnecessary. If I want to kill my neighbor without going to jail (first premise), and if my neighbor can be killed by being thrown out of the window without any legal consequence for me (second premise), then I should throw my neighbor out of the window (conclusion). Anscombe showed that practical rationality has generally been intermingled with ethical rationality because of the ambivalence of words like “should” or “ought to”. In the example above, it is clear that the “should” of the conclusion has no ethical value: it just refers to what it would be rational for me to do, given the premises. The universality criterion usually associated with rationality has not been given up: for anyone having the same premises as I have, the conclusion is right.
Considering violence and rationality as opposite elements implies an assumption that everyone could share the same premises when it comes to practical syllogisms. Taking rationality to be a defense against contentiousness and violence belongs to moral rationalism, and must be considered as such. Against moral rationalism, I will defend an instrumentalist and internalist conception of practical rationality, insisting on its specificities in comparison with theoretical rationality. While according to moral rationalism it would be possible to convince somebody to follow certain moral principles by reason, I will argue that there needs to be, in the first instance, a personal impulse guiding the moral preoccupation. It is rational for one to act in favor of understanding others and ensure peace only if one has an impulse, a wish, a desire consistent with this aim. It could be an impulse for personal happiness associated with the hypothesis that one’s happiness depends on others’ happiness and peace, it could be a wish to be sanctified associated with religious beliefs about the kind of action necessary to sanctification, or it could be a desire to be loved by others associated with the conviction that others generally love morally good people. Whatever the nature and content of the impulse at stake, it must be there to make moral principles motivate action. Determining moral principles rests on theoretical rationality, but once it is clear what one who wants to be a good person should do, there needs to be some impulse, as a premise to a practical syllogism, to move towards action.
Denying the essential role of desires, and giving too much place to theoretical rationality in our practical lives, may be a good way for contentiousness to settle. If I believe that anyone who acts according to principles different from mine is irrational, I do not give a chance to understanding and peace. I pave the way for general distrust between people who do not want the same things. It is not about accepting any form of reasoning as valid: there are incorrect forms of practical syllogism. But one could act towards peace following an incorrect practical syllogism, or a practical syllogism grounded on a wrong premise, and another one could favor violence following a correct practical syllogism grounded on true premises. To stimulate benevolent and rational understanding between people, I suggest we should pay more attention to people’s longings.
Thus, I take rationality, be it theoretical or practical, to depend on a universality criterion: what is rational for one is rational for anyone sharing the same premises. My aim is to raise awareness on the variety of personal premises possibly at stake within practical rationality, and to prevent the notion of rationality from becoming an obstacle to understanding others’ actions.

_
This contribution could be appropriate in the projected session “Political philosophy, anthropology, and social sciences”.

Biography

I'm a PhD student in philosophy at Lille University (URM STL 8163). I work on seemingly unjustified beliefs (conspiratorial ideations, science denial, new age spirituality, etc.) and their consideration from the perspective of social epistemology. I'm also interested in philosophy of mind, evolutionary biology and vegetarian cuisine.

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?

The notion of rationality is polysemous. I suggest that we should at least distinguish two related concepts. First, ideal rationality is a process that produces the most reliable outcomes given perfect access to relevant informations and infinite computational power. Second, functional rationality is a range of cognitive functions shaped by human's evolution in order to help them solve recurring cognitive tasks, in a normal environment (a notion I will develop). A human can be said "fuctionnally rational" in so far as her cognitive functions do their job and in so far as she inhabits a normal environment.

What does rationality rule out?

Functional rationality presupposes a normal epistemic environment and rules out cognitive dysfunctions that can be seen as the stumbling block of mental disorders. Note that there is no axiological judgement leaning against dysfunctional rationality in this context. Whether a malfunction is harmful is a relevant question, but a completely different matter.


How does your talk engage with rationality today?

Our epistemic environment is changing at a pace never seen before. This verdict is challenging for our functional rationality insofar as the latter presupposes a normal epistemic environment. Measures might be required to protect our epistemic environment from epistemic pollution which could be a major contributor to the hazardous aspects of the contemporary socio-environmental changes.

 

Abstract

Engaging mass delusions: A problem of rationality or an environmental issue?

Numerous cases of socially shared bizarre beliefs have been well documented throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries. These ideas, ranging from the conviction of "mad gasser" attacks in small American towns, to the necessity of collective suicide for "soul transcendence" among cult members, to the notion that vaccines contain "mind control devices" in conspiracy theorist circles, often appear paradigmatically irrational. Some of these phenomena have been labelled "mass delusions", "social delusions" or "contagious delusions".

Roughly, delusional ideas are characterised by the violation of at least two epistemic norms. First, they do not respect a principle of justification. Indeed, regardless of their potential accuracy (in the case of epistemic luck), they remain irrational due to the inadequacy or insufficiency of the reasons advanced by those who hold them in their favor. On the other hand, they violate a principle of revisibility because they persist in the face of evidence that should lead to a revision of these beliefs. In this talk, I suggest that cases (mis)labelled "mass delusion", "delusional contagion", or "social delusion" do not actually violate these epistemic norms.

To demonstrate this, I analyse the concept of epistemic norm and propose a naturalistic account. Human psychology, shaped by evolutionary history, has endowed us with cognitive functions that reflect epistemic norms. It is legitimate to regard delusional ideas as pathological insofar as they result from dysfunctions in these cognitive functions. However, no such cognitive dysfunction is necessary to explain so-called "mass delusions" or "delusional contagion". These phenomena, I suggest, are better explained in terms of specific epistemic environments that justify these beliefs, however peculiar, and prevent access to elements that could induce their revision.

I do not deny the crucial importance of combating the emergence of such phenomena, the consequences of which are known to be potentially disastrous. However, I suggest that rather than seeking individual solutions through medical care or cogntitive diet (to counter alleged cognitive biases), it is more appropriate to improve our epistemic environment, in particular by countering two forms of epistemic pollution: epistemic fog and epistemic traps.

Biography

Jennifer Harvey is a PhD student in anglophone literature at the Université de Lille.

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?

Rationality indicates a reflective engagement with the present through speculative, discursive, or practical acts. If the term “rationality” originates from the untranslatable Greek verb legein [λέγειν], ‘to assemble, to gather, to choose, to say, to think, to count,’ the semantic diffraction of this unity across multiple Latinate terms, from the speculative ratio to the discursive oratio, marked its philosophical reception until modernity. During the modern period, the unity found a renewed theoretical inflection in Kant’s critique of our faculties. Conceptualising rationality’s imbrication with a critical present against which it strains, Kant inaugurated a critical tradition in which rationality is tasked with measuring itself against its time. Rationality has since been conceptualised as a critique of the present performed from within the present: it found a significant reformulation in Hegel in terms of a linguistic constructivism and a later revitalisation in Marx in terms of political-economic contestation, only to reemerge in Ricoeur and Jameson as distinct politics of reading. Situated within this theoretical context, rationality today indicates a reflective engagement with a new present, whether that engagement takes place through speculation, discourse, or politics. As such, it implies two theoretical problems: the problem of the criterion and the problem of meta-critique.

What does rationality rule out?

Rationality rules out propositional content lacking a) justifiable epistemological criteria and b) critical assessment of its medium, linguistic or otherwise. Kant developed his critical project in response to the pyrrhic problem of the criterion, having progressively taken foundationalist epistemologies to task on the inadequacy of their criteria. While his transposition of the standpoint of Cartesian knowledge allowed for a resolution of the problem of the criterion, it ultimately left open the problem of meta-critique, by which Kant was charged with neglecting the use of language as the medium of rationality’s self-critique (Herder, 1799; Hamann, 1800).

How does your talk engage with rationality today?

This talk engages critically with the current debates on the problem of meta-critique. More particularly, it assesses the possibility and limits of rationality’s self-critique. It does so by foregrounding the historicity of the language in which it is articulated, attending at once to the non-referential language and the referential language found in poetry and criticism respectively.

 

Abstract

This talk explores how to treat the gap between what is said and what is meant, offering a critical assessment of rational engagement with what is non-rational in language. If rationality denotes a reflective engagement with the present through speculative, discursive, or practical acts, the gap between what is said and meant is one part of the present most at stake. Incontrovertible mark of the historically-constituted institution of language, this gap, minimised in rational discourse and expanded in aesthetic linguistic production, complicates the possibility rational discourse.

Much recent engagement with this question, at least in literary criticism, has built on Ricoeur's notion of a hermeneutics of suspicion (Kosofsky Sedgewick, 2003; Felski, 2015). In Freud and Philosophy (1970), Ricoeur’s hermeneutics of suspicion attends to the gap between what is said and what is meant by doubting the existence of consciousness rather than of thought, reason, and faith, effectively ascribing a falsity to the former and an inaccessible, independent existence to the latter.

The epistemological value of the historical, political, and philosophical claims that Ricoeur’s notion enables meta-critique to impute to historical, political, and philosophical prose, on the one hand, and historical, political, and philosophical poetry, on the other hand, in turn, becomes a question, which has profound political implications for critique in the present moment. Critically analysing the propositional content of theories, histories, poetries of war, this talk aims to propose a) an assessment of the legacy of Ricoeur’s hermeneutics of suspicion and b) a qualified defence of a growing critical tendency to view figuration as an aesthetic declension of Geoffrey Hartman’s nescience or Robert Proctor’s agnotology, epistemological concepts of ignorance whose initial deployment in poetics owes to Anahid Nersessian but will be carefully distinguished, clarified and elaborated here.

Biography

I defended my doctoral thesis in Philosophy at Vilnius University, 2021. Currently I am a postdoctoral fellow at Mykolas Romeris University and an assistant professor at Vilnius University in Vilnius, Lithuania. My current research mainly focuses on the themes of moral ontology, the notion of a person, moral objectivity, relation between morality and metaphysics.

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?

My talk argues that analysing Robert Spaemann’s conception of a person enables us to reconstruct and develop a specific conception of practical reason. This practical reason is a constitutive part of being a person - it is the way we as persons exist. Being rational is being aware of oneself as a person. However, this awareness emerges only through a certain transcendence of the self as a merely natural self-centred being for whom everything and everyone around are merely objects. Rationality as such self-transcendence enables us to recognise others as being more than objects, as being real, and establish essentially personal relations with them through which we nurture our personhood. Therefore, Spaemann’s practical reason is a particular self-transcendence that constitutes our existence as persons through the ontological personal relations with others.

What does rationality rule out?

The conception of practical rationality that I defend rules out the very distinction between subjective and objective as a precondition for determining what is real. It transcends this distinction as a source of our tendency to treat others as merely objects and establishes purely personal relation with the others. In other words, it rules out objective reality on behalf of an ontological (personal) reality.

How does your talk engage with rationality today?

While reconstructing a particular conception of practical reason that is not a theoretical construct of pure rationality, but a specific way of being a person, my talk also argues that this conception of reason enables us to reconsider and dismiss the traditional conception of moral objectivity that is dominating in today’s moral discourse and to develop an alternative to it.

Abstract

Personality goes deeper than reason: an alternative for moral objectivity grounded in pure reason

“Personality goes deeper than reason”1, – argued German philosopher Robert Spaemann developing his conception of a person. The aim of this paper is1 to analyse his thesis while reconstructing the alternative conception of reason that underlies Spaemann’s personalism and (2) argue that this conception of reason enables to develop an alternative to moral objectivity that is traditionally based on pure rationality and is dominating today’s moral discourse.
The paper argues that Spaemann’s position enables to reconstruct and develop a specific conception of practical reason. This practical reason emerges as a constitutive part of being a person. However, it is not a feature that a person has, but the way we as persons exist. Being rational is being aware of oneself as a person. This awareness of one’s own personhood originates only through a certain self-transcendence: we transcend our innate self-centeredness, our tendency to perceive ourselves as the only center of reality and our inclination to self-expansion considering others only as objects and means for our own interests. Hence, this self-transcendence, is a recognition of others as centers of being. Two things happen at once and are mutually connected: one recognizes the other as real, as an autonomous center of being that is not merely a function or an object in one’s life project; and this recognition, by restricting one’s natural self-centeredness, enables one to discover oneself as more than just a natural self-centered being – one discovers and realizes oneself as a person. Therefore, Spaemann’s practical reason is a particular self-transcendence that constitutes our existence as persons through the ontological personal relation to others.
Further, this paper argues that such conception of practical reason enables to reconsider and dismiss the traditional conception of moral objectivity that is dominating in today’s moral discourse. Moral objectivity is commonly perceived as having authority and being able to offer best answers in morality precisely because it is grounded in pure rationality. Moral objectivity is an attempt to distance oneself from everything that is not rational, therefore, not universal, merely subjective, emotional, circumstantial, relative and to perceive the object in question as pure object, as something that stands outside of ourselves by itself, objectively, without any input from the perceiving subject, even if the object we are trying to perceive is some sort of value. However, Spaemann’s conception of practical reason demonstrates that both, the stark distinction between subjective and objective, and the rationality that identifies itself with the latter, misses practical reality we live in. First, objective reality is not primary reality that we as persons (and, hence, as moral subjects) live in. As persons we approach practical reality from a first-person perspective which is by definition personal, not objective. It stems from the “self” that one as a person is. Disregarding this personal perspective moral objectivity disregards the moral reality itself. Second, moral objectivity presupposes subject-object relationship and therefore reduces both, values and other persons merely to objects for oneself.

One might distance from everything that is merely subjective, that originates from one as subject, in order to have an objective perception of something. However, that something or someone still remains merely an object in a subject-object relationship. Therefore, moral objectivity, nurturing the distinction between subjective and objective, precludes one from perceiving the ontological reality of other persons.
Spaemann’s practical reason, on the other hand, by transcending our subjective self-centeredness and our tendency to objectify everything that we meet in our way, transcends the very distinction between subjective and objective. Establishing an ontological relation with the other, it dismisses the need to look for objectivity in order to be sure of something’s or someone’s reality. We recognize the other as real precisely because he or she is not objective. And this personal relation with the other, the recognition of other’s ontological reality becomes the new ground for morality that can grasp the nature of our practical lives more adequately than moral objectivity.
Therefore, Spaemann offers a particular conception of practical reason that is not an ideal theoretical construct of pure rationality, but an integrated way of personal existence. This conception of practical reason discloses our ability to transcend ourselves, recognize ontological reality of others and establish personal relations with them. Such conception of rationality also offers an alternative to a dominating conception of moral objectivity.

1Spaemann, Robert. 2017. Persons. The Difference between “Someone” and “Something”. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 188.

Biography

I am a PhD-student at the University of Konstanz, Germany, and I write my dissertation about the Rationality of Emotions. My area of research is the Philosophy of Emotions, Rationality, Philosophy of Action, and Constitutivism.

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?
I agree that rationality is about reasons. However, I believe that understanding is equally essential to rationality. If someone asks me, why I acted in a certain way, why I hold a certain belief, or why I have a certain emotion, I have to understand what is going on inside and outside of me in order to give a sufficient answer – an answer which takes account of our reflective nature as human beings.

What does rationality rule out?
If someone isn’t able to give an answer to the questions above, she isn’t fully rational – even if her action serves her interests or her belief captures the truth. I am not only talking about having a good intention or holding a justified belief, but also about having substantial private knowledge about oneself.

How does your talk engage with rationality today?
I want to reconsider the notion of rationality, especially in the field of the rationality of emotions. Traditional theories of emotional rationality, so I think, have a focus which is too narrow. It’s not enough to have a fitting emotion or an emotion which motivates us to achieve our ends. We also have to understand what happens within us in order to be rational.

Abstract

Emotions and Narration. Why We Need Storytelling in Order to be Rational

In his paper “Truth, Authenticity, and Rationality” from 2007, Ronald de Sousa defends the thesis that emotions, first, aim at truth, second, can be authentic (that is, true to oneself) or not, and third, are subject to standards of rationality. They tell us something about the world, they tell us something about ourselves, and there are certain correctness standards for emotions which are linked to the first two faces of emotions. Standards of consistency, as one criterion for a set of beliefs on propositions to be rational, can easily be phrased for beliefs, but it is a
difficult task for the case of emotions. What does it mean for two emotions to be inconsistent? De Sousa criticizes that we can tell a coherent story on almost any set of emotions, but still lack an account of emotional coherence and consistency.
I believe, however, that this fact isn’t a problem for the rationality of emotions, but simply indicates how we should understand this notion. As most theorists in the debates about the rationality of emotions do, de Sousa locates emotional rationality within the emotions themselves. I will try to show that this is not the whole story about full fledged emotional rationality. I defend the thesis that emotional rationality is not (only) to be found within the emotion itself, but in part consists in the emoter’s reflection upon her emotion. She has to be able to tell an understandable story about her emotion. As opposed to de Sousa, I believe that there can be an interesting story – and that it can be consistent indeed. To make my project plausible, I will get help from Christine Korsgaard’s thick notion of rationality.
It is essential to being rational that I get substantive insight into what is going on inside of me. At the latest when someone challenges a belief I hold, an action I performed or an emotion I expressed and doubts its rationality, I have to start reflecting on it thoroughly in order to be able to defend or justify it. But I want to go further in my paper. In the first part of the text, I will try to make strong the thesis that if I, as emoter, don’t understand how a certain emotion within me came about as related to who I am – that is, as related to my character, to my past experiences and to the things I value – I can’t be plausibly called rational regarding this very emotion. Herein lies a huge problem for de Sousa’s account: A certain emotion might be perfectly rational according to him, but it is still possible that I am estranged from it to a high degree. Rationality calls for reflection upon myself and deep understanding of the processes within me. As Korsgaard might put it: Rationality is essentially connected to who we, as human beings, are. In the second part of my paper, I will specify what the missing part in de Sousa’s incomplete picture of emotional rationality is: narration. I will argue for the claim that the best way of reflecting upon and understanding my emotional life is by means of narration. I need to be able to tell an understandable story about my emotion in order to be emotionally rational. This is the main claim of my paper.


References:
De Sousa, Ronald: “Emotional Knowledge and the Emotional a Priori. Comments on Rick A. Furtak’s Knowing Emotions”, in: Journal of Philosophy of Emotion, 1/1, 2019, pp. 106-112.
De Sousa, Ronald: “Emotional Truth”, in: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volumes, 76, 2002, pp. 247-263.
De Sousa, Ronald: “Truth, Authenticity, and Rationality”, in: dialectica, 2007, pp. 323-345.
Goldie, Peter: The Mess Inside. Narrative, Emotion, and the Mind, Oxford 2012.
Korsgaard, Christine: “On Having a Good”, in: Philosophy, 89/3, 2014, pp. 405-429.
Korsgaard, Christine: Self-Constitution. Agency, Identity, and Integrity, Oxford 2009.
Korsgaard, Christine: “The Activity of Reason”, in: Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association, 83/2, 2009, pp. 23-43.
Korsgaard, Christine: The Sources of Normativity, Cambridge 1996.

Biography

I am a postdoctoral research fellow at the Justitia Center for Advanced Studies, Goethe Universität (Frankfurt), at the invitation of Rainer Forst.
I completed my PhD in philosophy—along with a Graduate Certificate in Mind, Brain, and Culture—at Emory University (Atlanta) under the supervision of John J. Stuhr. Before starting my PhD program, I earned an MA in Philosophy at The New School for Social Research (New York City), where I studied under the mentorship of Richard J. Bernstein. Additionally, I obtained an advanced degree in Contemporary Art History
from Goldsmiths, University of London, and pursued Bachelor's Degrees in Journalism and Music Performance (violin) in Barcelona.
My areas of specialization include moral, social, and political thought, philosophical psychology, critical theory (especially Jürgen Habermas), and American pragmatism (especially John Dewey). My research has been supported by Emory University, The New School for Social
Research, the Fulbright Program, and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, among other institutions. My work has been published in The European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy, The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, Contemporary Pragmatism,
and Pragmatism Today.

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?

Although by no means do I consider this the only acceptable definition, I describe rationality as a collaborative endeavor connected to and informed by our emotions.

What does rationality rule out?

Rationality is not the clinical exercise of producing inferences, but rather is directly impacted by our emotional experiences.

How does your talk engage with rationality today?

Rationality is not the clinical exercise of producing inferences, but rather is directly impacted by our emotional experiences.

 

Abstract

Affective Communities and the Possibility of Communicative Rationality

The starting point of my paper is the idea that the reasonable is not the product of the mind of an isolated thinking being, but rather the product of our argumentative interactions and, therefore, something embedded in specific historical contexts and connected to personal stories; something always contested and hence in perpetual change.

The conceptualization of the reasonable not as a mental product, but as a primarily social one compels us to consider language in a very particular way, namely, not as a medium—that in which the reasonable is expressed—but rather as an action—that in which the reasonable is produced. This, in turn, demands us to focus not so much on semantic content or grammar as on the nature and conditions of intersubjective communication; not so much on words and sentences as on discourse. This is the approach Jürgen Habermas adopts. As he argues, it is not the content itself of a given claim that makes it valid but rather the justificatory processes by which it is instituted as such. When it comes to the question of rationality, Habermas believes, it is not the “what” that matters, but rather the“how.”

Importantly, what precisely Habermas proposes with respect to the “how” of rationality is radical: its complete democratization. In his view, the crucial task of determining how to respond to a particular problematic situation, what to believe and what to do; the task, in short, of determining how to live our lives should not be the privilege of a few economic, political, and intellectual elites, but the right—and responsibility—of all.

Now, my goal in this paper is not to inquire into how these discursive processes of cooperative rationality could be made more open, inclusive, and practically effective—even though I recognize the crucial importance of raising these questions, which have already been posed and successfully addressed by so many illustrious scholars; rather, I want to take a step back, so to speak, and ask what the necessary conditions are for the very possibility of these processes.

Relying on arguments developed by Raimo Tuomela and other social ontologists, as well as on several works in social psychology, I argue that, for a cooperative process of communicative rationality to be possible in the first place it is necessary that a sense of “we” or sense of community emerges and is already operational among individuals.

Now, this sense of “we” or sense of community, I contend, should not be conceived of as restricted to a particular cultural, ethnic, or historical framework, for that would render communicative rationality impractical under the pluralistic circumstances in which, especially today, we find ourselves; instead, this sense of “we” or sense of community must be understood as affectively constituted.

Under the umbrella of an affective “we” and, hence, within the boundaries of an affectively constituted community, the cultural, ideological, and perspectival differences that, under the current circumstances of extreme pluralism, might exist between individuals and social groups recede into the background to make way for an alternative, more intense, form of interpersonal connection and, with it, to the
possibility of genuine acts of cooperation, including and especially processes of communicative rationality.

Indeed, being able to emotionally connect with others in a manner that allow us to genuinely consider their circumstances, concerns, needs, interests, and, desires and to afford them the same weight as we would to our own is, I argue, indispensable if we are to be able to think with them and, therefore, if we are to be
able to think at all.
 

Biography

António Zilhão got his MPhil at the University of Lisbon, his PhD at King’s College London (KCL) and his Habilitation at the University of Coimbra. He is currently Professor at the Philosophy Department of the University of Lisbon where he teaches different subjects (e.g., Logic, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophical Semantics; Paradoxes); he is also the head of one of the research groups (Philosophy of the Formal Sciences, Epistemology and Methodology) into which the Centre for Philosophy of Science of the University of Lisbon (CFCUL) divides itself.

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?

Rationality is the quality displayed by those agents that manage to implement decision strategies that are adequately tailored to the informational structure of their environment.

What does rationality rule out?

Rationality rules out maladaptation.

How does your talk engage with rationality today?

Today’s cognitive research seems to show that people often do not abide by the principles of theoretical rationality.  There is thus an ongoing debate in rationality theory concerning not only how to best describe the cognitive processes underlying human rationality but also how to best describe human rationality itself. These are the issues my talk is engaged with.

 

Abstract

Cognition, rationality and humanity
By the beginning of the current century, the conjunction of a synchronic cognitive psychological/computational view of the mind/brain with a diachronic evolutionary justification for frugality and modularity provided the bounded rationality approach to cognition with the upper hand in the debate concerning the description of the outline, as well as the specificities, of the human cognitive and decision-making systems.


Obviously, this spelled bad news for unbounded rationality approaches. A typical example of such an approach is provided by so-called ‘descriptive readings’ of classical decision theory. Actually, things were made even worse by the fact that the retreat to purely normative or prescriptive readings of the classical decision theoretical apparatus was also threatened by the success of the bounded rationality approach. As a matter of fact, as J.-L. Bermúdez has convincingly shown, – and D. Davidson tried to ground metaphysically – the different dimensions of rationality (action-guiding, normative and psychological/explanatory) cannot be “separated out”. Therefore, removing the psychological/explanatory dimension from the classical decision theoretical apparatus seemed to entail questioning its usefulness altogether as a theory of rationality.

More recently, a set of naturalist philosophers (e.g., D. Papineau, K. Sterelny or A. Schulz) attempted to turn the tables on bounded rationality theorists and modular evolutionary psychologists. In fact, they set themselves the goal of preserving the rationality-theoretical import of classical decision theory by seeking a foundation for its descriptive psychological/explanatory aspect precisely in the evolutionary dimension.

They did this by putting forth a claim according to which (decision-theoretically construed) means-end reasoning could, and should, be regarded as a trait having played an adaptive role in human biological evolution; thus, hominins and humans (i.e., the human lineage) had to have developed across evolutionary time generalpurpose mental mechanisms selected to sub-serve this ability. Recent archaeological evidence was brought to the fore in order to support this claim.

Now, the following of this line of theorizing entails the dismissal of widely cited and acknowledged computational complexity and feasibility arguments, on the one hand, as well as the dismissal of the extant evolutionary justifications for conceiving of the cognitive structure of the mind/brain as a modular adaptive toolbox provided with different sets of fast and frugal heuristics, on the other hand.

In my paper I argue that this dismissal remains, in both cases, ungrounded. I also argue that the main positive claim the supporters of such a line of theorizing make regarding the details of how human cognitive architecture must have evolved is, at best, implausible, both conceptually as well as empirically. I proceed by arguing that their selective appeal to an incomplete and fragmentary view of the human evolutionary landscape as a means to sidestep important results in synchronic cognitive psychological research is spurious. Finally, I conclude by claiming that the framework provided by the bounded rationality approach to cognition is still our best shot at gaining an inclusive understanding of humanity.

Biography

Institut de Philosophie Indépendant, Paris https://independentphilosophers.com

My short biography is Studied psychology at Lomonosov MSU, Moscow
Teaches Humanities to school-aged students
Studied philosophy in Collège Universitaire français, Moscow and Sorbonne Panthéon Paris 1

 

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?

Rationality is a form of engagement with reality, which aims at representing the latter in a way which allows retrieving or building knowledge about it and which expresses itself by different research units (theories, paradigms, scientific programs, schools etc). The object of my talk is precisely the relations between these units

What does rationality rule out?

I think that rationality rules out nothing on its own, but we should try to exclude both dogmatic and relativistic positions in dealing with different units of rationality;


How does your talk engage with rationality today?

My talk explores how one can think about different ways of engaging with rationality, in a way that would make possible their dialogical coexistence.

Abstract

Political philosophy, anthropology, and social sciences
Does rationality today need Aufhebung? Soviet school of dialogue, critical rationality and analytical units


The question of how to deal with the challenges of understanding rationality that humanity is facing today necessarily presupposes answering the question of how we think about the relations between different versions of rationality. A dogmatic position, that assumes that only one version is correct, makes a dialogue between diverse positions impossible. A relativist position, in turn, makes such dialogue unnecessary, as far as every single position is self-satisfactory and doesn’t require any approval from its environment1.
Therefore, a new, third way of thinking about the relations between different positions concerning rationality is to be found. The question arises whether this way should presuppose the procedure of dialectical Aufhebung2. On the one hand, the Aufhebung may mean a dogmatic act of preferring one position to all the rest, on the other, abstaining from its synthetical function may also mean avoiding following “the arrow of history”3 – whereas providing space for historical development seems to be necessary when one thinks about rationality today.
In this contribution, I would like to address these questions using both arguments that emerged in some of the discussions within philosophy of dialogue (Mikhail Bakhtin,Vladimir Bibler) and within the tradition of critical rationality (Thomas Kuhn, Karl Popper, Paul Feyerabend, Imre Lakatos). I would like to start my contribution by addressing these questions appealing to the arguments that came up in discussions of Soviet philosophers of dialogue, that opposed themselves to a Marxist dogma and, partly, juxtaposed dialogue to the procedure of Aufhebung. I would show in which way the process that precedes the Aufhebung
and that consists in maintaining the irreducible gap between different positions (initially cultural and later expanded to the logical ones as well) was thought within this school. I would also like to see whether one of the crucial points of this school of thought, namely that the existence of one position is due to its border, to its edge that communicates with other edges4 and not to its content, may be applicable to the modern discussions concerning rationality.
I would later like to argue that different analytical units5 may be thought as those depending on their correspondence to the dialogical function and their capacity to exist on “borderlines”, being mutually supported and even created by their differentiating with other positions. The dialogical potential of different units of analysis, that appeared in the history of epistemology, may be understood differently if we take the previous point into account. Some of them presuppose monological relation with rationality, that is to say using them may mean preferring a particular type of rationality that excludes the other ones without necessarily
articulating it.
Such are, one may argue, paradigms in their version, developed by Thomas Kuhn6. As opposed to them, the very existence of Research Scientific Programs, developed by Imre Lakatos, implies a dialogical development. While Kuhns’ paradigms development is aimed at the development of a paradigm itself and is therefore often more mediated by social and historical factors than by scientific ones (Kuhn, Lakatos), the development of research scientific programs is intrinsically dialogical and is actually impossible if we speak about research program in singular number.
I would therefore like to show that even the choice of an analytical unit by a researcher tells much about their dialogical preferences, even if the latter are not explicitly stated. I would like to show that the honest unraveling of this dialogic potential of analytical units could at least clarify the type of rationality that is unconditionally packed in the terms scientists prefer to use and, hopefully, by taking it into account, help to search different ways of grasping rationality. I would also argue that the choice of analytical units may influence whether we have to do with a dialectical Aufhebung (Lakatos) or with an artificial, externally caused cut of tissue representing scientific development (Kuhn).
My preliminary answer to the initial question therefore would consist in admitting that the Aufhebung, being pragmatically needed for the development of humanity, is intrinsically linked to a dialogue itself. This procedure is needed but scientific work doesn’t stop on it. The latter should consist in reviving and requestioning the gap between different positions7 (the possibility of which, as I suppose, depends on the analytical units chosen)8.
 

1 One can find relevant discussions in different sources, varying from Plato (Θεαίτητος), to Hegel (when he criticizes stoic and skeptic positions), Bakhtin (when distinguishing between polyphony and cacophony) or Boghossian (when criticizing relativism).
2 Hegel
3 The question whether the presence of Aufhebung corresponds to a dogmatic position is a separate question to be asked.
4 The possible links of these thoughts with the contemporary thoughts on autopoiesis (Luhman etc) may be a separate object of research.
5 By an analytical unit I understand here a unit within which rationality is to be grasped: it may be a theory, a paradigm, a research-scientific program, even a scientific belief.
6 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
7 This understanding may be enriched by the idea of cartesien continual creation
8 My understanding of rationality, therefore, doesn’t correspond to a correlative one.

Biography

Markus R. Pawelzik, M.D., *19.12.1957, was trained in medicine, philosophy and linguistics. After retiring as a psychiatrist, psychotherapist and neurologist, he is writing a book on “psychologische Anthropologie” – a theory of man as a minded being. Before retiring, he directed specialized psychotherapeutic services for severe mentally ill people, well known for their intensity. Now he is working as a guest scientist at the institute for medical psychology and sociology at the medical school of the RWTH Aachen University in Germany. Living in France on the country side, he is involved in various voluntary services in the psychosocial field.

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?

Rationality is a major ingredient of the ‘cultural medium’, we live by. Take the essential social practice of reason-giving: Reasons rationalize! They posit persons and their actions in a “space of reasons” (Sellars), a virtual realm built from conditions we (as intellectualizing philosophers) call “rationality”, “normativity”, “narrative structures”, “institutional facts”, etc. The philosopher’s recipe – “first abstraction, that reification” – generates categories that, when analyzed, often turn out to lead to ‘unsolvable’ puzzles because they don’t match embodied practice. So: take care when you define rationality. One-dimensional definitions may obstruct better understanding.

What does rationality rule out?

The rationality of a person-centered ‘healing approach’ rules constellations like the following: uncontrolled dominance- and power-relations, one-sided medical conceptions of problems, monological, insensitive styles of interaction, etc.

How does your talk engage with rationality today?

One aspect concerns the irrational behavior of mentally ill people. They tend to drift to the ‘margins of society’. Helping them to improve their lives, we need to learn to understand the ‘rational’ in their irrationality by furthering articulation and mentalization. Since social participation depends on the ability to negotiate what we jointly understand as rational, mentally ill people need to gain a ‘voice’.

 

Abstract

Psychiatric rationality: from mechanism to personalism?

Although several types of rationality are simultaneously involved, psychiatry is still strongly determined by the paternalistic execution of biomedical rationality. The motive driving this tendency is psychiatry’s claim to the status as a ‘real’ medical speciality; psychiatrists hate to
be seen as representatives of an eccentric, special, scientifically ‘soft’, more or less hermeneutic discipline. I take psychiatry’s persistent use of the medical model of disease as the hardly contestable backbone of this intention. Meanwhile many commentators realize that this approach has led to an epistemic as well as moral crisis. Psychiatry’s scientific rationality drives a huge research industry’s output that shows no signs of cumulative theory development.

The continuous failure of biomedical rationality in psychiatry is a significant sign of this crisis. Psychiatry tries to establish distinct clinical types of disorder like depression or schizophrenia as specific, brain-based, etio-pathological processes since more than 120 years – to no avail!
The biological signatures of the supposedly discrete types of mental disorders remain unknown. We cannot specify a single biological marker that reliably and specifically covariates with any of the syndromes, clinically defined. The diagnosis of mental illnesses still relies on the interpersonal application of more or less strictly defined behavioral syndromes (i.e. bundles of covarying psychopathological symptoms). Other options to prove the medical model’s validity fail as well: There is virtually no progress in psychiatric diagnostics and therapeutics.

Apart from the fact that the investigation of the ill mind doesn’t work well based on biomedical strategies, medicine’s foundational normative rationality remains unaffected: Any kind of health-care shall first and foremost improve the patient’s health, either by specific interventions or ameliorative practices. The implementations of this moral imperative present as a wide range of practices - from pathology-centered, paternalistic directivity to person-centered forms of interpersonal negotiation. Simultaneously, increasing numbers of mental health recipients are no longer willing to bow down to treatments/services they dislike. They expect and increasingly receive more consumerfriendly treatments going by labels like “personalized psychiatry“, “recovery approach” or “psychotherapy”. The price of this development is a decline of psychiatry’s overall instrumental rationality, i.e. an increase of relativism concerning psychiatry’s overall epistemic rationality.

The epidemiological facts underwrite this unsatisfying situation: Less ill and disabled patients can take advantage of psychotherapy’s emancipatory potentials, while severely mentally ill people remain dependent on traditional services – hospitals, pills and worse. In order to discuss the political agenda of future resource management, development of more effective therapies, etc., we need to become aware of the different rationalities involved. They pull into different, conflicting directions and are difficult to integrate. This calls for major decisions concerning our anthropological understanding of the mind and its ills. I will offer and discuss three options – mechanicism, animalism and personalism – all of which fit different types of rationality: Mechanicism goes with strict instrumental, typically biomedical rationality; animalism is based on the ‘natural normativity’ of species-typical functioning in ecological niches; and personalism depends on the socio-cultural normativity of social practices and relations. My talk will focus on the relationships between anthropological models and types of rationality in the context of psychiatry.

Biography

I am a Teaching Fellow in Philosophy at the University of Warwick. My research focuses on philosophy of psychiatry, philosophy of mind, and epistemology

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?

Rationality is the ability to make sensible judgments and the capacity to follow through with them.

What does rationality rule out?

Rationality rules out closed-mindedness.

How does your talk engage with rationality today?

I will present a new theory of delusion, the paradigmatic symptom of irrationality.

Abstract

Delusion and Experience
[T]his 'light' can explain why someone obstinately defends or holds on to a given opinion. (Hobbes, "Thirteenth objection", in Descartes, 1984, p. 134)


Delusional belief is one of the most baffling doxastic phenomena: on the one hand, a patient may appear so irrational in that they obstinately hold on to their delusion in the teeth of counterevidence; but on the other hand, the same patient may otherwise appear perfectly normal in that they apportion their non-delusional beliefs to the evidence.

According to a leading cognitive theory of delusions, i.e. the endorsement version of the two-factor theory (e.g. Davies & Egan, 2013), the patient suffers from two distinct factors: the patient suffers from an experience with anomalous content (Factor 1), which is similar to the content of their delusion, and the patient suffers from an impaired belief-evaluation system (Factor 2), which prevents the patient from properly evaluating and rejecting endorsing the content of their experience. However, since having an experience with strange content (e.g. illusion and hallucination) is arguably not uncommon, the two-factor theory has difficulty in explaining why Factor 2 does not lead the patient to have a lot of strange beliefs.

In this paper, I will put forward a novel solution. Unlike the one-factor theory (e.g. Noordhof & Sullivan-Bissett, 2021) and the phenomenological theory (e.g. Feyaerts et al., 2021), both of which tend to reject Factor 2, I will accept Factor 2. Rather, based on the phenomenal reading of Descartes (Patterson, 2008; Paul, 2020), I will propose a new conception of the patient’s experience (Factor 1), according to which the patient’s experience is better to be conceptualised as a malignant form of what Descartes calls ‘clear experience’: this sort of experience is not only distinctive of its content but also distinctive of its phenomenal character, i.e. phenomenal charity, with a compelling force that ‘impedes’ the functioning of the patient’s impaired belief-evaluation system.


References:
Davies, M., & Egan, A. (2013). Delusion: Cognitive approaches—bayesian inference and compartmentalisation. In K. W. M. Fulford, M. Davies, R. G. T. Gipps, G. Graham, J. Z. Sadler, G. Stanghellini, & T. Thornton (Eds.), The oxford handbook of philosophy and psychiatry (pp. 689-727). Oxford University Press
2
Descartes, R. (1984). The philosophical writings of descartes, vol. 2 (J. Cottingham, R. Stoothoff, & D. Murdoch, Trans.). Cambridge University Press
Feyaerts, J., Kusters, W., Van Duppen, Z., Vanheule, S., Myin-Germeys, I., & Sass, L. (2021). Uncovering the realities of delusional experience in schizophrenia: A qualitative phenomenological study in belgium. Lancet Psychiatry, 8(9), 784-796.
Noordhof, P., & Sullivan-Bissett, E. (2021). The clinical significance of anomalous experience in the explanation of monothematic delusions. Synthese, 199(3-4), 10277-10309.
Patterson, S. (2008). Clear and distinct perception. In J. Broughton & J. Carriero (Eds.), A companion to descartes (pp. 216-234). Blackwell
Paul, E. S. (2020). Cartesian clarity. Philosophers’ Imprint, 20(19), 1-28.

Biography

Associate Professor, at the Department of Machine Learning and Data Processing, Faculty of Informatics, Masaryk University Brno, Czechia, and the Chair of Knowledge Discovery Laboratory FI MU Brno

Research interests: Machine learning, Anomaly analysis.
 

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?

In machine learning, the agent aiming to solve a classification task (determining whether an individual is from group A or its complement non-A) may be considered rational if it provides the maximum expectation of success based on the available information.

What does rationality rule out?

The agent is not rational if there is no acceptable explanation for its solution.

How does your talk engage with rationality today?

One of our goals is to answer the question of whether the current LLM (large language models like ChatGPT) results can be qualified as rational.

 

Abstract

Decide between two. Rationality in machine learning

1 Introduction. Machine learning (ML) is a subpart of artificial intelligence. From a broad spectrum of ML tasks, we selected concept learning, the task of categorizing an individual into group A or ¬A based on prior historical knowledge. The input of the task consists of historical observations, each with a class label A or ¬A. After learning - whatever it is - new individuals, now without a class label are assigned with either A or ¬A. As an example, spam filtering is one of such tasks. It is believed that the concept of rationality emerges as a guiding principle, playing a pivotal role in the decision-making processes of intelligent systems. Consequently, it should hold also for concept learning.

2 Two views of rationality. At its core, rationality in ML refers to the ability of an algorithm or model to make logical and reasoned decisions based on available information3. To draw conclusions that align with logical reasoning is crucial in ensuring that ML models not only produce accurate predictions but also make decisions that are justifiable and interpretable. It is the first view. In this case, the learning algorithm provides an explanation of its results, and it is up to a human to decide whether the result is rational. Actually, a human decides whether the algorithm behaves rationally. Another view of rationality in ML constrains an agent’s actions to provide the maximum expectation of success given the information available. This perspective underscores the importance of optimizing decision-making processes within the limits of available knowledge, aligning the agent’s actions with the goal of achieving the highest likelihood of success based on the information at hand. Here, we will look more to the latter.
3 Learning as the optimal expectation of success. To be more formal, this kind of rationality in ML constrains the learned model to provide the maximum expectation of success given the information available4, or better to optimize computational utility given a set of assumptions about expected problems and constraints on resources (bounded optimality4. In our case, the goal is to achieving the highest likelihood of success (assigning label A or ¬A to an individual) based on the information at hand (historical data) and information about the resources available. It is also close to ideas of Jon Doyle2 (for more
details see1.) We now discuss a set of assumptions about expected problems and constraints on resources in the context of concept learning.
Assumptions about expected problems may include, e.g.

• information on each feature, including its importance1.
• importance of an individual.
• information on class balance.
Constraints on resources (algorithms, a machine, the time available) may involve e.g.
• which algorithm to use and with which parameter settings.
• determining the performance measure to use (accuracy, precision, ...).
See also2 Sec.3.1 for discussion of a similar topic. Not only is the incompleteness of input information (historical data and their description) a concern, but also the inconsistency of assumptions and/or constraints. Here’s an example: the resulting answer needs to be as simple/general/powerful as possible that is clearly in conflict. We aspire to a machine learning solution that is as rational as possible. However,
the question should not be about how rational or irrational the solution is, but rather which solution is less or more rational. Conclusion. In real life, the conclusions one draws from ML result can depend
on one’s goals. Perhaps this is the response to the question of the rationality of machine learning, however incomplete and insufficient it may be. Simply put, we may not necessarily know the context in which the ML task has been solved. Let’s end these reflections just a little heretically: ”Science is both the measure and the locus of truth, and it is all of this precisely because scientific rationality seems best suited to the task of clearly and distinctly distinguishing true and false claims about the world. This would perhaps even be acceptable if the condition of this measure were not at the same time the elimination of the far more numerous statements about the world that the scientific mode of reasoning rejects precisely because it cannot decide on their truth or falsity.”
(Miroslav Petříček, Czech philosopher).
References
1 Jon Doyle. On rationality and learning. Technical report, Carnegie Mellon University CMU-CS-88-122, 1988.
2 Jon Doyle. Rationality and its roles in reasoning. Comput. Intell., 8:376–40, 1992.
3 U. Kamath and J. Liu. Explainable Artificial Intelligence: An Introduction to Interpretable Machine Learning. Springer, 2021.
4 Stuart Russell. Rationality and Intelligence: A Brief Update. In Fundamental Issues of Artificial Intelligence, pages 7–28. Springer, 2016.


1 Each individual is described by a fix number of features.
 

Biography

I defended my PhD thesis in Philosophy in 2023, I am a philosophy teacher in secondary education, in Lille, and an associated member at STL "Savoirs, Textes, Langage" (UMR8163). My research focuses on the political and sociological implications of Alfred North Whitehead's philosophy, on 20th-century Anglo-Saxon philosophy (pragmatism, emergentism, process philosophy), as well as on ecological philosophy and the connections between speculative and practical issues, drawing on the thought of Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour, and Isabelle Stengers.

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?

I will focus on a normative use of the term “rationality”, taken as a condition for peaceful relations among individuals. To my opinion, such use of the term often suggests a monistic conception of rationality, as it sets a clear distinction between what is deemed rational and what is considered irrational: either something can be integrated into the realm of rationality, or it has to be cast out, as it cannot be engaged with. I argue that such a monistic take on rationality is frequently assumed in modern thought, and my aim is to advocate for a pluralistic alternative to the ethical stance it entails.


What does rationality rule out?

“Monistic” rationality is supposed to rule out irrationality and arbitrariness: whenever conflicts arise, opposing viewpoints can ideally be reconciled through dialogue rather than resorting to violence. Hence, rationalization can be deemed necessary to cultivate peaceful relations among people, as it entails the assimilation of all divergent reasons into a shared rational framework. Therefore, this monistic conception of rationality tends to rule out violence by subduing differences, which may itself be perceived as a form of violence.

 

How does your talk engage with rationality today?

Modern politics and ethics have traditionally pursued unity through rationalization. However, the notion that association requires the integration of all divergent rationales is increasingly debated today, particularly in fields such as political ecology, comparative anthropology, and subaltern studies. Conversely, a pluralistic approach to rationality allows for partial connections among inherently irreducible rationales: the goal is not to enforce uniformity, but rather to establish connections between divergent reasons, even though these divergences endure. This perspective suggests a particular ethical stance: nothing should be excluded, even if it entails the potential for conflict when mutually irreconcilable reasons are expressed. Philosophers such as Donna Haraway, Bruno Latour, and Isabelle Stengers have argued that while this approach to rationality and association does not eliminate the possibility of violence, it does discourage what we may call “impoliteness”.

 

Abstract

Aiming at connections rather than integration – on some ethical aspects of a pluralist take on rationality

The purpose of this paper is to discuss how a pluralist conception of rationality leads to reframing the ethical stance implied in our endeavours to form associations.

Every individual relies on their own reasons. When a collective forms, a common ground of rationality is set, which allows for dialogue between individual reasons, that is, for non-violent relations within the collective1. In this respect, rationality bears a strong ethical value: it is the key to peaceful relations among free people; therefore, one may feel committed to reason, and aim to contribute to the rationalization of human relations.

My point is that the meaning of such a sense of commitment depends on how we conceive of rationality. Modern thought has long taken rationality as universal, its universality being the condition of association, as it enables the gathering of all individual reasons under common principles. So here, commitment to rationality takes the form of a duty to integrate, to achieve peace among people through unity. However, this monist notion of rationality has proved harmful: the progress of reason has turned out to be a sheer process of colonization on behalf of one form of rationality (that of modern Western culture) resulting in the marginalization, exclusion, and even destruction of other forms of rationality, which are now dismissed as irrational or taken as mere "beliefs" one might be tolerant of, but not take seriously2.

On the other hand, a pluralist notion of rationality may seem at first to imply sheer relativism, and so to forbid any association, as we can rely on no common ground. However, my point is that it rather raises the question of how association should take place. If there is no universal rationality to rely on, association cannot take the form of integration; but it can take the form of partial connections among various forms of rationality, which stay irreducible to one another. Here, the possibility of dialogue no longer depends on everyone rallying around one set of rational principles, comprehensive enough to eliminate all differences; it rather involves diplomacy, which means that all actors need to translate (and therefore, to betray) their own reasons to connect them with those of others3So here, there is no commitment to rationality taken as a universal principle; but rather commitment to the plurality of situated rationalities, and to the possibility of connecting them: it is an ethics of trust4, that is, of consenting to partial connections.

I argue that an ethics based on trust in connections is more demanding than one based on the duty to integrate. For as long as we have universal rationality as a touchstone, the realm of the rational (dialogue between friends) and the realm of the irrational (violence between foes) are well distinguished – this distinction being made by those who have the power to impose their own reasons. On the other hand, where there are only partial connections among mutually irreducible rationalities, no clear difference is made between friends and foes, and dialogue is always intertwined with violence5. This is well expressed in Haraway’s notion of “response-ability.” Response-ability is an attitude of "non-innocence," of ethical sensitivity to the implications of our actions in a plural world, including failure, violence, and destruction6. As soon as one endeavours to associate with others without relying on some universal principle of rationality, one needs to acknowledge that among all the reasons which are at stake, some will be betrayed, misunderstood, or dismissed. The work of association is never wholly achieved and must always be done again7. As for the damage implied in any achievement, it requires accountability and a response8.

By relying on Haraway’s notions, my aim is to explore the ethical stance which a pluralist take on rationality calls for. In such an approach, one cannot keep from experiencing ethical trouble, as no universal rationality provides us with a safe criterion for discriminating friends from foes. Moreover, it forbids us to see our actions as contributing to the future achievement of peace among people, as there is no global unity to aim at, but rather partial connections which are never secured. Here, association doesn’t aim at future peace, it bears its effects within the “thick present” of current events9: the focus is not on working to end violence in the future, but on seeking justice, here and now, among friends and foes, by “learning to be ‘polite’ in responsible relation to always asymmetrical living and dying, and nurturing and killing.”10

 

 

 1 As Éric Weil observes, dialogue implies that “basic agreement on essentials” has already been achieved (Logique de la philosophie, p. 25). So shared rationality taken as a condition of dialogue is itself a consequence of the forming of the collective (which implies the exclusion of those who will be perceived as “others”).

 2 We can think of at least two different levels of diversity among forms of rationality: the variety of rational systems embodied in each collective’s culture, as it is studied by comparative anthropology (Ph. Descola, Par-delà nature et culture); and the variety of modes of rationality competing within one cultural system (Bruno Latour, Enquête sur les modes d’existence). So there are two ways of “colonizing” rationality: there is the colonization of all culture by Western rationality; and there is colonization within Western thought itself, as when scientific rationality takes over other modes of thinking (religion, ethics, politics…).

3 B. Latour, Re-assembling the social.

4 In the pragmatic sense, taken from William James, of actively cultivating trust (“faire confiance”), where trust is not already there (“avoir confiance”): see W. James, The Will to Believe; and D. Debaise & I. Stengers, “An Ecology of Trust, Consenting to a Pluralist Universe”. For the French phrases, see Ph. Pignarre & I. Stengers, La Sorcellerie capitaliste, p. 159.

 5 B. Latour, “Telling Friends from Foes at the Time of the Anthropocene.”

 6 D. Haraway, Staying with the Trouble, p. 28.

 7 B. Latour, Politiques de la nature, pp. 211-214.

 8 D. Haraway, Modern_Witness@Second_Millenium.FemaleMan©_Meets_OncomouseTM.

 9 D. Haraway, Staying with the Trouble, p. 1.

10 D. Haraway, When Species Meet, p. 42.

Biography

Karl Bergman is a philosopher employed by the department of philosophy at Uppsala University and currently visiting the University of Barcelona as a postdoctoral researcher. He defended his thesis at the former department in 2019. His current research concerns problems in the philosophy of rationality as well as broader issues in the philosophy of mind and language.

 

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?
What does rationality rule out?

My talk does not presuppose any particular answer to these questions, nor does it deliver one. Rather, it’s in the business of comparing and relating different things one could mean by “rationality” and “irrationality”.

How does your talk engage with rationality today?

I suspect philosophers (at least in the analytic tradition I’m trained in) have managed to theorize themselves into a conception of rationality that would be difficult for non-experts to recognize. My project is an attempt at bridging this gap that I perceive.

Abstract

Arguing for irrationality
Is irrationality (sometimes, under some conditions) defensible by (sound or at least convincing) argument?

The idea should sound at least a little paradoxical. Isn’t “defensible by argument” tantamount to “rationally defensible”? How can irrationality be rationally
defensible? Indeed, on mainstream philosophical construals, “rationality” denotes a normative notion so “thin” that it’s difficult to see how irrationalitycould ever have something to recommend itself – except, perhaps, in very recherché and outlandish scenarios.

At the same time, irrationality – or at least something going by that name – has its defenders, both among the learned and the folk. It seems likely that these “irrationalists” are not talking about the exact same thing as us contemporary philosophers would when using the words “rational,” “irrational” and cognates. It also seems likely that they are not talking about something completely unrelated.

Taking my point of departure in some unsystematic observations of how the folk sometimes go about defending irrationality, I present a number of argument forthe conclusion that sometimes, or in some situations, one ought to be irrational, with the aim of figuring out,
• If there is a way to construe “rationality” and “irrationality” such that these arguments are sound or at least make sense.
• How the resulting construals relate to the “thin” normative notion that philosophers usually have in mind.
Here is one example of such an argument:
Irrationality from intuition
1. One ought sometimes to follow one’s intuition (instinct, gut…), instead of relying on careful ratiocination, when making decisions.
2. Doing so is being irrational.
3. Thus, one ought sometimes to be irrational.

In the argument, there are two premises playing clearly distinct roles:
Premise 1 makes a normative claim about the propriety of a certain way of acting, reasoning and making decisions. Call it the normative premise.
Premise 2 makes a claim to the effect that this way of acting, reasoning and making decisions qualifies as irrationality. Call it the conceptual premise.
1 seems plausible enough. 2 is where the philosophically trained is likely to protest. On dominant philosophical construals of “rationality,” there are simply
no grounds for categorically classifying action guided by intuition as “irrational.”
The other arguments I will discuss have a similar structure, with a fairly uncontroversial normative premise and, from the philosophical point of view, highly
dubitable conceptual premise.
But: I take it there is no single well-defined notion of (ir)rationality that validates either 1) all folk and expert usages or 2) some privileged subset of them
such that we can say that those falling outside that subset are simply wrong.
This leaves room to search for a notion of irrationality which, if read back into one of my reconstructed arguments, renders it true.
My aim here is, as suggested above, is to reconstruct a notion of rationality capable of making the conceptual premise of each argument true, while investigating
its relation to mainstream philosophical conceptions of rationality.


Now, it would be easy enough to invent some notion which validates (for instance) Irrationality from intuition and call it “irrationality”. For instance, suppose we stipulatively defined irrationality as:
Irrationality =def acting on intuition
This renders premise 2 of Irrationality from intuition trivially true and hence the argument sound (given that premise 1 is true, as i think it is).
But this type of cheap victory is not what I’m interested in.
Nor am I interested in simply extracting what people who defend irrationality along lines similar to Irrationality from intuition happen to have in mind. That would be an empirical task, requiring empirical tools.
Rather, what I am interested in is a kind of rational (!) reconstruction: what
could one mean by “irrationality” such that it were defensible by argument, while at the same time being a sensible thing to mean by “irrationality”?
What do I mean by “sensible”? “Rationality” and “irrationality” are terms that are up for grabs. But they are not infinitely up for grabs.
Here are some constraints that I think we should put on a sensible notion of
rationality:
• The notion is worth standing as the meaning of a word in the first place. It is unified and coherent. It serves an explanatory purpose.
• The notion stands in some systematic relationship to other notions picked out by the same terms, especially expert notions.

This is the type of reconstructions I hope to offer in the course of the talk. I hope that the result can serve as a theoretical point of departure for shedding light on both expert and folk notion of rationality and to provide novel theoretical tools for grappling with this eminently slippery topic.

Biography

Luca M. Possati serves as an Assistant Professor at the University of Twente in the Netherlands, specializing in human-technology interaction. Trained as a philosopher, he has held positions as a researcher and lecturer at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, the University of Porto in Portugal, and the Institut Catholique in France. His research is primarily focused on the philosophy of technology and AI, postphenomenology, the psychology of technology. For more info: https://www.lucapossati.com/

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?

Rationality, as outlined in the abstract, primarily refers to a mode of engaging in social interactions that are coordinated through language and argumentation, specifically within the framework of communicative action as conceived by Jürgen Habermas. It implies a process of public decision-making that is grounded in the intention to reach mutual understanding, using language as the medium and prioritizing the centrality of argumentation. This form of rationality is essential for deliberative democracy and public decision-making, emphasizing the importance of inclusion, discourse ethics, and critical reflection. Rationality, in this context, relies on argumentative exchanges among stakeholders who are considered equals, aiming to analyze and compare criticizable validity claims to arrive at reasoned decisions.


What does rationality rule out?

By its nature, the concept of rationality outlined in the paper rules out decision-making processes that lack open, equal, and critical discourse. It implicitly excludes approaches that do not prioritize mutual understanding, those that disregard the importance of language and argumentation as central to the decision-making process, and any form of interaction that does not treat participants as equals in the exchange of ideas. More specifically, within the context of this paper, it challenges and seeks to rule out the overlooking of cognitive inequalities in public decision-making processes. The emphasis on communicative rationality and equal cognitive abilities among participants excludes decision-making practices that ignore the varying cognitive capacities of individuals and how these differences can impact the efficacy and fairness of public decision-making.


How does your talk engage with rationality today?

Discussing this paper engages with the concept of rationality today by critically examining and challenging the assumptions surrounding cognitive equality in deliberative democracy and communicative action. It brings to the forefront the under-explored impact of cognitive inequalities on rational public decision-making. By incorporating recent research on cognitive disparities and proposing a mathematical model to explore the potential drawbacks of decision-making groups dominated by individuals with high cognitive abilities, the discussion enriches the contemporary discourse on rationality. It does so by highlighting the need for a more nuanced understanding of how cognitive differences among participants can influence the processes and outcomes of public decision-making.

 

Abstract

The Impact of Cognitve Inequalites in Public Decision-Making

This paper critically examines the under-explored impact of cognitive inequalities on public decision-making. Central to our investigation is the question: How do cognitive inequalities influence public decision-making processes, and is there a threshold of cognitive capacity beyond which a high concentration of individuals with superior cognitive abilities becomes counterproductive in a decision-making group? We challenge the prevalent assumption in political philosophy and social science literature that overlooks the pivotal role of cognitive disparities in shaping policy decisions. This omission is significant given the strong inclination towards communicative rationality and deliberative democracy, as advocated by Jürgen Habermas, which presupposes equal cognitive abilities among participants for effective public debate and decision-making.

The initial section of the paper explores Habermas's notion of communicative action, which defines rational social interactions as those coordinated through language and argumentation. This concept serves as the foundation for public decision-making and deliberative democracy, emphasizing inclusion, discourse ethics, and critical reflection (Habermas 1979gg, 1984, 1987). Moreover, it plays a crucial role in comprehending contemporary methodologies in responsible innovation, technology assessment, ethics of technology, and business ethics. According to Habermas, communicative action is defined by three elements: a) the intention to reach mutual understanding, b) language as the medium of understanding, and c) the centrality of argumentation, which is a procedure for analyzing and comparing of criticizable validity claims. In a nutshell, the rationality of public decision-making relies on argumentative exchanges among stakeholders in a context of equality.

The second part offers a critical perspective on this model by incorporating the concept of cognitive inequalities. Drawing on recent research (Deary et al. 2022, Van Hootegem et al. 2023, Mollon et al. 2021, Sauce et al. 2021), we redefine cognitive inequalities not merely as disparities in cognitive abilities due to various socio-economic and biological factors, but as a crucial element that can influence the efficacy of decision-making processes. By acknowledging the existence and measurable impact of these inequalities, we present a balanced view that neither endorses discrimination nor underestimates the implications of cognitive diversity.

The paper's core contribution lies in developing a mathematical model that explores the potential drawbacks of a decision-making group overly dominated by high cognitive abilities. We hypothesize that such a configuration may lead to increased risks of irrational decisions, cognitive overload, and groupthink. The model seeks to identify a potential threshold where the concentration of high cognitive abilities in a group becomes more of a liability than an asset in public decision-making. This inquiry aims to enrich the discourse in political philosophy by introducing a nuanced understanding of how cognitive inequalities shape the dynamics of public decision-making, thereby challenging the current philosophical paradigms and offering a Mandevillian perspective (Mandeville 1989) on the complexities of democratic processes.

 

Keywords
Cognitive Inequalities, Public Decision-Making, Communicative Rationality, Deliberative Democracy

 

References

Deary, I.J., Cox, S.R. & Hill, W.D. 2022. “Genetic variation, brain, and intelligence differences.” Mol Psychiatry 27, 335–353. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-021-01027-y 

Habermas, J. 1979. Communication and the Evolution of Society. Boston: Beacon Press.

Habermas, J. 1984. The Theory of Communicative Action 1. Boston: Beacon Press.

Habermas, J. 1987. The Theory of Communicative Action 2. Boston: Beacon Press.

Mandeville, B. 1989. The Fable of the Bees. New York: Penguin Books.

Mollon, J., Knowles, E.E.M., Mathias, S.R. et al. 2021. “Genetic influence on cognitive development between childhood and adulthood.” Mol Psychiatry 26, 656–665. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41380-018-0277-0

Sauce, B., Wiedenhoeft, J., Judd, N. et al. 2021. “Change by challenge: A common genetic basis behind childhood cognitive development and cognitive training.” npj Sci. Learn. 6, 16. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41539-021-00096-6

Van Hootegem, A., Røgeberg, O., Bratsberg, B. et al. 2023. “Correlation between cognitive ability and educational attainment weakens over birth cohorts.” Sci Rep 13, 17747. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-023-44605-6

 

Biography

James D. Grayot

Postdoctoral Research Fellow
Instituto de Filosofia / Mind, Language and Action Group (MLAG)
Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal

James Grayot's work is situated at the intersection of philosophy of science and philosophical psychology. His primary interest is the role that cognition plays in the study of human decision-making, especially interdisciplinary approaches to modeling and explaining decision phenomena. He earned his PhD from the Erasmus Institute for Philosophy & Economics (EIPE) at Erasmus University Rotterdam. His has taught courses at San Jose State University, Rutgers State University, University of Groningen, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, and Leiden University. He has held visiting fellowships at Tilburg University and Vita-Salute San Raffaele University Milan.

Enrico Petracca

Resident Fellow
Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research,
Klosterneuburg, Austria

Enrico Petracca is currently a Resident Fellow at the Konrad Lorenz Institute for Evolution and Cognition Research in Austria. His research interests lie at the intersection of the study of rationality, embodied cognition, and the philosophy of mind

 

Engaging rationality today

What is rationality?

We are opposed to the idea that rationality can be given a singular definition or method for measuring/calculating its exercise. Instead, we regard rationality as fundamentally context-specific, which is to say, it is contingent upon an agent's cognitive and environmental affordances (i.e., their socio-cognitive niche). We think that rationality is best cast and studied in terms of ecological and embodied principles, which emphasise the diverse relations that constitute the agent's relationship to their environment given their niche.


What does rationality rule out?

As a matter of principle, we think that nothing can be ruled out as 'irrational' without first considering the socio-cognitive niche in which reasoning takes place. At best, irrationality is a function of the specific cognitive or adaptive failings of an individual to respond to environmental affordances in a practical or useful way.


How does your talk engage with rationality today?

In our talk, we explore the relationship between two aspects of rationality (construed ecologically and embodiedly). The first aspect is cognitive embodiment, which we have previously written about. The second aspect is known as 'mindshaping'--loosely, it refers to the social foundations of cognition, especially those concerning norms of behavior and public conduct. Our talk aims to show how different forms of mindshaping involve (or presuppose) different notions of embodied rationality.
 

Abstract

Mindshaping and the Embodiment of Rationality
This paper will address two overlapping questions related to the following prompt: How does mindshaping relate to and support the embodiment of rationality?
  1. To what extent does mindshaping play a role in the embodiment of rationality?
  2. To what extent does the embodiment of rationality play a role in mindshaping?
While there may appear to be a reciprocal relationship between the two framings of the prompt, we can approach each independently in terms of their respective socio-cultural and disciplinary roles and implications.

In this paper, we will survey and further explore how the philosophical, cognitive scientific, and economic studies of embodied rationality (and other embedded, extended, and enactive forms of cognition—known as 4E cognition) can provide in-roads toward addressing the above questions. We plan to do this by emphasizing and answering four subsequent questions:

 3. Under which normative condition(s) is mindshaping rational?
 4. Do these conditions hold similarly for different theories of mindshaping?
 5. What are the consequences of (3) and (4) for the mindreading vs. mindshaping debate?
 6. In which domains/disciplines are these implications most apparent or appreciated?

Answering the latter set of questions will require drawing important distinctions between competing theories of cognition, namely, between internalist (strongly representational) accounts of cognition and externalist (weakly/non- representational) accounts of cognition.

Further, it will require investigating how the apparent evolutionary advantages of mindshaping relate, respectively, to both traditional economic accounts of rationality as opposed to recent ecological accounts of rationality, noting especially the differences and tensions between the two in terms of how mindshaping fits in.

To put this into perspective, consider the following passage from Zawidzki (2018):

“Our dazzling technological capacities would be impossible without traditions of social learning, enabling the preservation and gradual improvement, over historical time, of techniques of resource extraction, processing, and distribution, and of social communication and interaction.” (1)

Such “dazzling technological capacities”, notwithstanding their “preservation” and “improvement”, suggests that humans possess a wide range of abilities for rational thought and action. These abilities range from simple decision heuristics to complicated feats of strategic reasoning and coordination.

Our starting assumption in addressing the above questions is that human rationality is not a singular capacity or function (let alone one that can be reduced to modular or neural correlates), but rather, should be conceived as an array of uniquely evolved and culturally honed tools that aid in both individual and social reasoning tasks

Naturally, we think, this makes the theory of mindshaping a strong potential ally of 4E theories of cognition and, by extension, an ally of (some) non-traditional accounts of economic rationality. The former alliance may be more obvious than the latter one as it is still a debated issue whether and to what degree traditional accounts of economic rationality (including those of behavioral economics and
neuroeconomics) are committed to internalistic theories of cognition, and hence, committed to internalist accounts of decision-making and preference formation that run contrary to theories of mindshaping.

To put this investigation into proper context, consider when Zawidzki claims that:

“The mindshaping hypothesis is a natural ally of “4e” approaches to human social cognition. Rather than conceptualize distinctively human social cognition as the accomplishment of computational processes implemented in the brains of individuals, involving the correct representation of mental states, the mindshaping hypothesis conceptualizes it as emerging from embodied and embedded practices of tracking and molding behavioral dispositions in situated, socio-historically and culturally specific human populations. Our socio-cognitive success depends essentially on social and hence extended facts, e.g., social models we shape each other to emulate, both concrete ones, e.g., high status individuals, and “virtual” ones, e.g., mythical ideals encoded in external symbol systems. And social cognition, according to the mindshaping hypothesis, is in a very literal sense enactive: we succeed in our socio-cognitive endeavors by cooperatively enacting roles in social structures.”(4)

There are potentially many ways to read this passage as endorsing an embodied (or extended, enactive, and embedded) theory of rationality. In order to flesh out the potential alliance between mindshaping and embodied forms of rationality, we consider four increasingly radical forms of embodied rationality labelled in order of embodied radicalism: (1) embodied bounded rationality; (2) body rationality; (3) extended rationality; (4) radical embodied rationality (Petracca & Grayot, 2023). Then we discuss to what extent mindshaping can contribute and/or be part of each theory of rationality.

As such, answering the titular questions (1,2) requires that we carefully address and investigate the subsequent questions (3-6) at two levels of analysis:

  - first, we must distinguish between whether and how different theories of mindshaping are committed to representationalism (and clarify what kind of representationalism they suppose).
 - Second, we must compare/contrast these theories of mindshaping against the different accounts of embodied rationality and in particular the normative principles (adaptation; exaptation; constructionism; coordination) they subscribe to.

This two-step analysis will reveal not only how important mindshaping is for understanding the embodiment of rationality, but it will allow us to further understand whether and how theories of mindshaping can be leveraged to improve our study of human rationality (across disciplines and contexts).