Skepticism and human reason

by Henry Farrell on January 3, 2023

[attention conservation notice: I am neither a philosopher nor a cognitive scientist]

A quick friendly-critical response to this piece by Liam Kofi Bright, which also plugs some of my own collaborative work with Hugo Mercier and Melissa Schwartzberg.

The short version – many arguments against the human capacity for reason rest on shaky empirics, as Liam argues. But Liam’s counter-claim – that human beings are individually good at reasoning – isn’t necessary to make the case that I think he wants to make.

Even if human beings are bad at (some forms) of individual reasoning, they may be able to reason quite well collectively. That provides a different set of grounds for optimism about human reasoning that is maybe less congenial for analytic philosophy (I’ve no idea how you would begin to model it formally – perhaps others do) but that is robust against possible empirical criticisms that the usual analytic philosophy arguments are not. [click to continue…]