Thinking and Reasoning 19 (3-4):472-487 (2013)

Authors
Howard Darmstadter
Princeton University (PhD)
Abstract
Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber have proposed an “argumentative theory of rea-soning” in which the function of reasoning is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade. Mercier and Sperber note that the theory does not work when we reason alone or with people who share our beliefs. However, the theory also fails in deliberations involving “framework beliefs”—beliefs that are only indirectly related to empirical evidence but that have a particular importance for the believer because of their centrality to a dense web of other beliefs and their connections to social practices. Framework beliefs not only include many ethical, religious, and political beliefs, but also paradigmatic scientific beliefs. An alterna-tive theory of reasoning, derived from philosophical pragmatism, is presented that explains the rigidity of framework beliefs and is more optimistic about individual reasoning. A consequence of the pragmatist theory is that certain types of bias and polarization are functional.
Keywords Mercier  argumentation  belief stystems  pragmatism  confirmation bias  polarization  reasoning
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DOI 10.1080/13546783.2013.802256
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References found in this work BETA

Why Do Humans Reason? Arguments for an Argumentative Theory.Dan Sperber - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (2):57.
From a Logical Point of View.Richard M. Martin - 1955 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 15 (4):574-575.
Rationality in Reasoning: The Problem of Deductive Competence.Jonathan Evans & David E. Over - unknown - Current Psychology of Cognition 16 (1-2):3-38.
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The Fixation of Belief.C. S. Peirce - 1877 - Popular Science Monthly 12 (1):1--15.

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