Are Humans Rational?
(Singularly So!)

Table of Contents

Selmer Bringsjord




General Orientation

The Aristotelian dictum that we are rational animals is under severe attack these days. In fact, the previous sentence may be to seriously understate the situation: the dictum is perhaps outright rejected by many, if not most. From psychologists of reasoning and decision-making to behavioral economists to the “new atheists” (all groups whose message we will consider in this class), the onslaught is firmly underway, and fierce. Yet this course revolves around a defense of the proposition that Aristotle, modernized along Leibnizian, Piagetian, and Bringsjordian \(\times\) 2 lines, is right. This proposition, put a bit more precisely, is:


In-class lectures deliver crucial content. (Assuming that things go according to plan, all lectures will be recorded, and will be available for review to all students.) Attendance is required and note-taking is key. Sometimes slides will be distributed by email. Most readings will be electronic, and either distributed by email, or can be obtained by url. As a first example, students should read Nicholson Baker’s “The Wrong Answer” asap, since it (we claim) represents a stark example of an implicit denial of both \(\mathcal{R}\) and \(\mathcal{H}\). As to books, it’s required that students purchase and read Kahneman’s (2013) Thinking, Fast and Slow. It’s recommended that students read the available-online The Nature of Rationality by Robert Nozick; S Bringsjord will be drawing from this book at times (in ways that will be announced clearly). Finally, five class meetings will each draw directly from a chapter in S Bringsjord’s forthcoming G\"{o}del’s Great Theorems, from Oxford University Press.


  • The Fall 2019 PDF version available here. Recall that the syllabus has hotlinks to some required reading!

Slide Decks etc., Meeting by Meeting



Sosa, E. (1999) “Are Humans Rational?” in Cognition, Agency and Rationality, K. Korta, E. Sosa, \& X. Arrazola, eds., (Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Kluwer), pp. 1–8. This book is the Proceedings of the Fifth International Colloquium on Cognitive Science.

Author: Selmer Bringsjord

Created: 2019-12-10 Tue 14:03

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