Reasoning as a tool
A new commentary by Amelia Gangemi, out in Exploring Contextualism and Performativity, argues that reasoning is a tool that serves individual goals. Gangemi makes the point that rationality is not a one-size-fits-all delineation, but that rationality helps people achieve their goals and reduce the costs of their errors. Here is her abstract:
What makes the difference between rational or irrational reasoning? In this chapter, I will try to answer to this question, giving a different view on what we can mean with the term rationality. In particular, a functional and pragmatic account of rational reasoning will be proposed. According to it, the best kind of thinking (i.e. the more rational) is whatever kind of thinking that best helps people to achieve or protect their goals and reduce the costs of crucial errors. Therefore, contrary to normative theories, such as logic or probabilistic reasoning, rationality is not the same as accuracy, and irrationality is not the same as an error. Rationality can be instead considered a matter of degree. We can say that a way of reasoning is “more rational” or “less rational” than another. It depends on how much it can be helpful for our goals. There may be also not only a “best” way of reasoning. There may be different ways of reasoning that are comparable in terms of their value in helping people to achieve their goals. They depend on the beliefs, contexts or domains in which we are reasoning. Finally, these kinds of reasoning do not deny emotions but give them a relevant role. Emotions sometimes even improve our reasoning when we want to achieve or defend our own goals and interests.