Vai al contenuto principale

Theories of rationality


Theories of rationality


Anno accademico 2018/2019

Codice dell'attività didattica
Vincenzo Crupi (Titolare del corso)
Corso integrato
Corso di studi
laurea magistrale in Filosofia
1° anno
Periodo didattico
Secondo semestre
Di base
SSD dell'attività didattica
M-FIL/02 - logica e filosofia della scienza
Modalità di erogazione
Lingua di insegnamento
Modalità di frequenza
Tipologia d'esame
Being familiar with elementary logic will be very helpful for full understanding of the course topics.

Sommario del corso


Obiettivi formativi

What does it mean to be rational? How does rationality relate to logic and similar formal theories? What is the role of philosophy and other disciplines (especially cognitive science) in the study of rationality? In which sense and to what extent are humans rational?

The course aims at addressing these key questions. We will outline a classical view of rationality as characterized by the principles of logic, probability, and decision theory. Against this background, we will discuss a number of topics widely debated by philosophers and cognitive scientists over the years: (i) does this classical view of rationality have a compelling and distinctive justification as a normative benchmark? (ii) how does this kind of normative justification work? (iii) do humans generally comply with the relevant normative principles of reasoning in actual practice? (iv) if not, what are the consequences for philosophical analyses of rationality and for our individual and societal prospects?

The issues and skills involved in the course are central to education in philosophy and can also provide philosophical, historical, and methodological insight for students of specific scientific disciplines (including mathematics, physics, psychology, and history).


Risultati dell'apprendimento attesi

Students who successfully complete the course will understand basic elements of probability and decision theory as principles of rational thinking. They will learn to recognize key issues for the study of human rationality and critically discuss their meaning with reference to relevant cases and examples. More generally, the skills developed in the course will enrich the array of tools for the analysis of human rationality and its limitations, thus enhancing critical thinking, sound inference, and compelling argumentation.


Modalità di insegnamento

Lectures and discussion sections, 36 hours overall.


Modalità di verifica dell'apprendimento

The assessment of learning achievements will be made by (i) a test at the end of the lecture series or an oral exam (about 15-20 minutes), and (ii) an essay (approximately 4000 words) based on relevant assigned readings (see below). To meet the course requirements, students will have to be able to describe and discuss the central issues of the course on the basis of the notions and skills acquired, including clarity in presentation, informed use of the terminology, and understanding of appropriate reasoning techniques.




- Classical principles of rationality: logic, probability, and decision theory

- How normative principles of rationality can be justified

- Reasoning biases and cognitive illusions: selected case-studies

- Controversies concerning human rationality

- Rationality and irrationality in the real world


Testi consigliati e bibliografia

The lecture series will include an introduction to probability and decision theory. Relevant study material at elementary level can be found in the following textbooks (.pdfs will be available in Materiale Didattico in due course).



- I. Hacking, An Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic (Cambridge University Press, 2001): pp. xi-78 (chapters 1-7).

- B. Skyrms, Choice and Chance. An Introduction to Inductive Logic (Wadsworth, 2000): pp. 109-136 (chapter 6: The Probability Calculus).

- G. Priest, Logic: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2017): pp. 76-91 (chapters 11-12).



- I. Hacking, An Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic (Cambridge University Press, 2001): pp. 79-126 (chapters 8-10).

- J. Baron, Thinking and Deciding (Cambridge University Press, 2008): pp. 233-256 (chapter 10: Normative Theory of Choice under Uncertainty).

- G. Priest, Logic: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2017): pp. 92-99. (chapter 13).


In order to write their final essay, students will have to rely on assigned mandatory readings. Here is a general (preliminary) list (.pdfs will be available in Materiale Didattico in due course).

- L.J. Cohen, "Can human irrationality be experimentally demonstrated?", Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 4 (1981): pp. 317-370 (reprinted in J.E. Adler and L.J. Rips, eds., Reasoning: Studies in Human Inference and Its Foundations, Cambridge University Press, pp. 136-155).

- R.M. Dawes, "Irrationality is abundant", in Everyday Irrationality (Westview Press, 2001): pp. 1-16 (chapter 1).

- G. Gigerenzer, "I think, therefore I err", in Rationality for Mortals: How People Cope with Uncertainty (Oxford University Press, 2008): pp. 65-79 (chapter 4).

- D. Kahneman and A. Tversky, "On the reality of cognitive illusions", Psychological Review, 103 (1996): pp. 582-591.

- R. Samuels and S. Stich, "Rationality and psychology", in A.R. Mele and P. Rawling (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Rationality (Oxford University Press, 2004): pp. 279-300.



Orario lezioni

Lunedì14:00 - 16:00Aula 24 Palazzo Nuovo - Piano primo
Martedì14:00 - 16:00Aula 24 Palazzo Nuovo - Piano primo
Mercoledì14:00 - 16:00Aula 24 Palazzo Nuovo - Piano primo

Lezioni: dal 29/04/2019 al 05/06/2019



Lectures will take place from 29 April 2019: Monday / Tuesday / Wednesday h 14-16 (Aula 24, Palazzo Nuovo).

Ultimo aggiornamento: 17/04/2019 04:43
Non cliccare qui!