CIA Lecture Series 2018

Thursday 20th September - h. 14.30
Room: Sala Paci - Department of Philosophy
via Festa del Perdono 7 - Milano

DAN SPERBERĀ  (CEU - Jeaan Nicod)
Human Rationality in an Evolutionary Perspective


For any item that has a function, one can ask: How well does it perform its function? In other terms any such item can be evaluated normatively. What then is norm in terms of which one can evaluate cognitive mechanisms the function of which is to perform inferences? It is, I will argue, a norm of rationality in a broad sense. Inferential mechanisms are evolved in all animals that locomote, and hence rationality in this sense is not typically human, but, of course, it applies to human inferential mechanisms as well. Reasons, I will argue, play no role in rationality in this first sense. Humans draw inferences about reasons. In The Enigma of Reason, Hugo Mercier and I have argued that inferences about reasons has two overlapping functions, to produce and evaluate justifications, and to produce and evaluate arguments. The reasons produced as justification or argument are evaluated in term of rationality in a second, narrower and more traditional sense of the term. I will describe this properly human notion of rationality, argue that it is intrinsically social, and discuss its relationship to rationality in the broader cognitive sense of the term.