The Nature of Rationality

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9780691074245: The Nature of Rationality

Repeatedly and successfully, the celebrated Harvard philosopher Robert Nozick has reached out to a broad audience beyond the confines of his discipline, addressing ethical and social problems that matter to every thoughtful person. Here Nozick continues his search for the connections between philosophy and "ordinary" experience. In the lively and accessible style that his readers have come to expect, he offers a bold theory of rationality, the one characteristic deemed to fix humanity's "specialness." What are principles for? asks Nozick. We could act simply on whim, or maximize our self-interest and recommend that others do the same. As Nozick explores rationality of decision and rationality of belief, he shows how principles actually function in our day-to-day thinking and in our efforts to live peacefully and productively with one another. In Nozick's view, misconceptions of rationality have resulted in many intractable philosophical problems. For example, the Kantian attempt to make principled behavior the sole ultimate standard of conduct extends rationality beyond its bounds. In this provocative volume, Nozick reformulates current decision theory to include the symbolic meaning of actions in areas from controlling impulses to fighting society's war against drugs. The author proposes a new rule of rational decision, "maximizing decision-value, " which is a weighted sum of causal, evidential, and symbolic utility. In a particularly fascinating section of the book he traces the implications of this rule for the famous Prisoner's Dilemma and for Newcomb's Problem. Rationality of belief, according to Nozick, involves two aspects: support by reasons that make the belief credible, andgeneration by a process that reliably produces true beliefs. A new evolutionary account explains how some factual connections are instilled in us as seemingly self-evident, thus reversing the direction of Kant's "Copernican Revolution." Proposing a theory of rational belief that inc

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Book Description:

"Robert Nozick's brief, vivid, energetic, intensely personal and enviably clever book attacks head-on the question of what rationality really is." --John Dunn, The Times Higher Education Supplement

"Robert Nozick always attacks his problems in a disconcertingly original way. . . . From Mr. Nozick you always expect fireworks. . . . The questions he addresses are fundamental in the true philosophical sense: Why exactly should we want to act and believe rationally? Why should we formulate principles of action and try to stick to them? The questions are not moral but explicatory. He is not out to argue that unprincipled or irrational behavior is immoral; rather, he invites us to consider what we are trying to do, and what the justification for such behavior is. . . . Sure to attract a great deal of interest." --Anthony Gottlieb, The New York Times Book Review

"To Nozick, rationality and belief are each an evolutionary adaptation to a world that changes in nonregular ways. Our acts resonate with symbolic meaning and 'stand for' our principles and beliefs. In this boldly original . . . inquiry which will reward serious students of philosophy, Nozick uses decision theory to propose new rules of rational decision-making that take into account the symbolic, practical, and evolutionary components of our behavior . . . . this challenging treatise champions reason as a faculty that enables us to transcend our mere animal status and to strive toward goals by the light of principles." --Publishers Weekly

"From Mr. Nozick you always expect fireworks. . . . The questions he addresses are fundamental in the true philosophical sense: Why exactly should we want to act and believe rationally?" --The New York Times Book Review

Contenuti:

Acknowledgments
Introduction
I How to Do Things with Principles 3
Intellectual Functions 3
Interpersonal Functions 9
Personal Functions 12
Overcoming Temptation 14
Sunk Costs 21
Symbolic Utility 26
Teleological Devices 35
II Decision-Value 41
Newcomb's Problem 41
Prisoner's Dilemma 50
Finer Distinctions: Consequences and Goals 59
III Rational Belief 64
Cognitive Goals 67
Responsiveness to Reasons 71
Rules of Rationality 75
Belief 93
Bias 100
IV Evolutionary Reasons 107
Reasons and Facts 107
Fitness and Function 114
Rationality's Function 119
V Instrumental Rationality and Its Limits 133
Is Instrumental Rationality Enough? 133
Rational Preferences 139
Testability, Interpretation, and Conditionalization 151
Philosophical Heuristics 163
Rationality's Imagination 172
Notes 183
Subject Index 219
Index of Names 224

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Nozick, Robert
Editore: Princeton Univ Press (1993)
ISBN 10: 0691074240 ISBN 13: 9780691074245
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Descrizione libro Princeton Univ Press, 1993. Hard Cover. Condizione libro: New. Condizione sovraccoperta: New. Size: 8vo - over 7¾" - 9¾" tall. Codice libro della libreria 23495

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