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New meetup: The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning

From: Peter
Sent on: Thursday, June 16, 2011 12:27 AM

Announcing a new meetup of the Berkeley Philosophy Reading Group!

The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning

When: Tuesday, June 28,[masked]:00 PM to 10:00 PM

Where: Espresso Roma
2960 College Ave (corner of College/Ashby)
Berkeley, CA 94705

Why do humans reason?  The usual understanding is that humans reason in order to improve knowledge and make better decisions.  But an alternative theory is that the purpose of reasoning is to win arguments.  This second theory has been named the argumentative theory of reasoning by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber, who write:

"A wide range of evidence in the psychology of reasoning and decision making can be reinterpreted and better explained in the light of this hypothesis. Poor performance in standard reasoning tasks is explained by the lack of argumentative context. When the same problems are placed in a proper argumentative setting, people turn out to be skilled arguers. Skilled arguers, however, are not after the truth but after arguments supporting their views."

Mercier and Sperber, "Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory", Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2011) 34:57-111, doi:[masked]/S[masked]X[masked] (click on "One-Click Download")
Please read at least the original article by Mercier and Sperber, which is the first 17 pages (57-74).  The rest of the download consists of responses written by others, and the authors' responses to these responses.  Read whichever of these responses sound interesting to you.  Remember that we are a reading group, and everyone who comes to the meeting is expected to have read at least the first 17 pages.

For a brief, more conversational introduction, you might be interested in reading "The Argumentative Theory" on Edge:

Donation to defray costs: $2.00 per person
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