Two minds rationality

Thinking and Reasoning 20 (2):129-146 (2014)
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I argue that views of human rationality are strongly affected by the adoption of a two minds theory in which humans have an old mind which evolved early and shares many features of animal cognition, as well as new mind which evolved later and is distinctively developed in humans. Both minds have a form of instrumental rationality—striving for the attainment of goals—but by very different mechanisms. The old mind relies on a combination of evolution and experiential learning, and is therefore driven entirely by repeating behaviours which succeeded in the past. The new mind, however, permits the solution of novel problems by reasoning about the future, enabling consequential decision making. I suggest that the concept of epistemic rationality—striving for true knowledge—can only usefully be applied to the new mind with its access to explicit knowledge and beliefs. I also suggest that we commonly interpret behaviour as irrational when the old mind conflicts with the new and frustrates the goals of the conscious person



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