College Of Arts and Sciences | The Dark Side of Rationality
S105 | 4012 | Savion, L.


"I'll pay you $5 if you wash my car", your father promises your kid
sister. An hour later she's running around the house, happily waving
a five-dollar bill. Do you conclude that she has washed the car? Most
people do, in explicit violation of logical rules. Human superiority
over other animals is normally summarized in one word: rationality.
Our great achievements are attributed to this unique capacity:
language, arts, sciences, social order, legal systems and survival
skills. Yet, the same species that finds cure for cancer, sends
people to the moon and maintains sophisticated social organizations
also engages in pointless wars, racism, gambling, cults, biased
decision making and by and large demonstrates consistent and
predictable failure to follow simple rules of logic.

In investigating the complicated relations between logical rules and
human actual reasoning we'll cover some principle of logical theory,
uncover major human inferential failures, examine critically major
theories of rationality and explore the reasons behind the apparent
human irrationality. Students are expected to take two tests and a
final exam, write 3-4 short papers, offer one group presentation
based on independent research, and develop a lively intellectual
curiosity about the ways our minds work.