Vai al contenuto principale

Theories of Rationality


Theories of Rationality


Anno accademico 2019/2020

Codice dell'attività didattica
Vincenzo Crupi (Titolare del corso)
Corso integrato
Corso di studi
laurea magistrale in Filosofia
Philosophy International Curriculum M.A.
1° anno
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 2000 / 3000 words) based on relevant assigned readings (see Materiale didattico —> final syllabus, for details). 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).

– I. Hacking, An Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic (Cambridge University Press, 2001): pp. xi-78 (chapters 1-7)
– E. Steinhart, More Precisely: The Math You Need to Do Philosophy (Broadway Press, 2018, second ed.): pp. 108-130 (chapter 5: Probability)
– B. Skyrms, Choice and Chance. An Introduction to Inductive Logic (Wadsworth, 2000): pp. 109-136 (chapter 6: The Probability Calculus)

– 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)
– M. Peterson, An Introduction to Decision Theory (Cambridge University Press, 2009): pp. 91-106 (chapter 5: Utility)

The detailed list of further reading assigments and suggestions (including relevant material for the final essay) can now be found in Materiale didattico (check the final syllabus attachment).





Online meetings will begin on Thursday 7 May, h 14-17 through the WebEx platform provided by the University of Turin, and will continue on Thursdays and Fridays (same time) in the weeks to follow.

Here are the details to access.

1. Thursday 7 May meeting (h 14-17)
password (if needed): jsYaANm7w23

2. Friday 8 May meeting (h 14-17)
password (if needed): cuYKtDyr736

3. Thursday 14 May meeting (h 14-17)
password (if needed): iH5Svy9xY77

4. Reading assigned (conjunction fallacy): check Moodle.

5. Thursday 21 May meeting (h 14-17)
password (if needed): KnMCvt723xK

6. Reading assigned (base-rate neglect): check Moodle.

7. Thursday 28 May meeting (h 14-17)
password (if needed): JMmmvjmh363

8. Reading assigned (framing): check Moodle.

9. Friday 5 June meeting (h 14-17)
password (if needed): BViwihAr477

10. Reading assigned (Sleeping Beauty): check Moodle.

11. Reading assigned (Newcomb's problem): check Moodle.

12. Thursday 11 June meeting (FINAL) (h 14-17)
password (if needed): XyVfPDMn745



—> click on the link at due time (ideally, a few minutes earlier)
—> download the Cisco Webex Meetings app (only for the first access)
—> enter your name as a participant and an email address
—> if requested (but normally NOT needed): enter password (see above for each meeting)
—> connect to the event
—> check audio and video settings: activate


Final written test. To take the test, one has to access the Moodle platform on Wednesday 17 June from 10 to 11 in the morning. The test will include 10 multiple choice questions (3 options each: 2 points for each correct response) and an open question (up to 10 points). The topics addressed will be those discussed during the course meetings, including the key assigned readings (see again Moodle or the final syllabus in Material Didattico for details). Participation is open.



Ultimo aggiornamento: 13/06/2020 21:55
Non cliccare qui!