PSYCHOLOGY 798B. GRADUATE SEMINAR ON EMPIRICAL AND THEORETICAL ISSUES IN THE STUDY OF RATIONALITY.

Prof. Thomas S. Wallsten

 

Fall, 2001

Monday, 2-5 PM

 

This graduate seminar will consider empirical and theoretical issues in defining and assessing human rationality. Rationality is often taken as a normative standard against which to assess actual human thinking and behavior. The questions we will consider include (a) can definitions of rationality be formed independently of actual behavior, (b) are there, nevertheless, principles of rationality that might be considered universally applicable, (c) what can we learn from the empirical literature that claims to establish systematic deviations from such so-called standards of rationality? We will look at a few recent books (e.g., Oaksford & Chater, 1998; Stanovich, 1999), but also sample liberally in the extensive relevant journal literature in psychology, as well as in other fields, such as economics and philosophy.

 

Student responsibilities in this course will include doing all of the reading, leading their share of the seminars, and writing a term paper. To prepare for each seminar that they lead, students will meet with me at least twice prior to the class period and develop for distribution to the others an outline of the material to be covered.

 

Oaksford, M. & Chater, N. (1998). Rationality in an uncertain world: Essays on the cognitive science of human reasoning. Hove, England: Psychology Press/Erlbaum (UK) Taylor & Francis.

 

Stanovich, K. E. (1999). Who is rational? Studies of individual differences in reasoning. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.