The Roots of Reason

The Roots of Reason : Philosophical Essays on Rationality, Evolution, and Probability

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David Papineau presents a controversial view of human reason, portraying it as a normal part of the natural world, and drawing on the empirical sciences to illuminate its workings. In these six interconnected essays he offers a fresh approach to some long-standing problems.

Papineau rejects the contemporary orthodoxy that genuine thought hinges on some species of non-natural normativity. He explores the evolutionary histories of theoretical and practical rationality, indicating ways in which capacities underlying human reasoning have been selected for their biological advantages. He then looks at the connection between decision and probability, explaining how good decisions need to be informed by causal as well as probabilistic facts. Finally he defends the
radical view that a satisfactory understanding of decision-making is only possible within a specific interpretation of quantum mechanics.

By placing the subject in its scientific context, Papineau shows how human rationality plays an explicable role in the functioning of the natural world.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 252 pages
  • 135 x 203 x 16mm | 297g
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0199288712
  • 9780199288717

Table of contents

Preface ; Introduction ; 1. Normativity and Judgement ; 2. The Evolution of Knowledge ; 3. The Evolution of Means-End Reasoning ; 4. Probability as a Guide to Life (co-authored with Helen Beebee) ; 5. Causation as a Guide to Life ; 6. Uncertainty Decisions and the Many-Minds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics
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Review quote

Review from previous edition The book succeeds at presenting an articulated and coherent view in various areas of epistemology and philosophy of science, treating a series of issues ranging from the foundations of decision theory and probability to various interesting problems in the cognitive sciences ... The book is very well written. Its arguments flow quite naturally and clearly ... I do recommend reading the book to any person with interests overlapping
any of these areas. * Horacio Arlo Costa, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews *
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Rating details

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