Master of Arts (MA)


Philosophy and Religious Studies

Document Type



In his account of intentional interpretation, Donald Davidson assumes that people are mostly rational. Several psychological experiments though, reveal that human beings deviate drastically from the normative standards of rationality. Therefore, some psychologists arrive to the conclusion that humans are mostly irrational. In this thesis, I raise some objections to both points of view. On the one hand, ascribing rationality to humans in an a priori manner seems a suspicious position to adopt, considering the empirical data that show otherwise. On the other hand, the validity of the experiments and what exactly they test can also be put in question, since the position that humans are in general irrational is also unacceptable intuitively. In this thesis, I suggest that the discrepancy is due to the notion of rationality we adopt, which I bring into question. I do not find convincing reasons that humans should be thought a priori as rational and I do not also see why humans should be called irrational just because they fail certain tests. Many of the alleged "irrationalities" in the tests can be explained if we adopt different styles of reasoning than the "traditional" ones. Hence, humans can count as rational in another way. But, is this what Davidson thinks of rational, or does he think of rationality in the traditional sense? I think the type of rationality that Davidson endorses relies on Classic Logical conditions, which makes it inflexible. A type of rationality that relies on Fuzzy Logical conditions, as I claim, is more appropriate to describe human rationality.



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Committee Chair

Jon Cogburn