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Reason & rationality

This tag is associated with 137 posts

The Thought Police

Detective Ed Gillespie has made the ancient Greek philosopher part of Baltimore Police Department’s annual in-service training. Here are some suggestions for what should be on any police force’s reading list.

Can a dog really be brave?

Seeing animals as too like or too unlike ourselves are equal and opposite mistakes. The way to avoid this error is not to imagine that other animals are more human-like than they really are, but to accept that we are more like other animals than we generally believe.

Our obsession with empathy is flawed

Given a choice between complex cogitations and simple emotional reactions, most of us, most of the time, opt for the latter. This choice is usually automatic and unconscious. The emphasis on empathy encourages us to indulge this weakness, to believe that feelings are all we need to be better people in a better world.

The triage of truth

If we are sincerely interested in the truth we can use expert opinion more objectively without either giving up our rational autonomy or giving in to our preconceptions. I’ve developed a simple three-step heuristic I’ve dubbed ‘The Triage of Truth’ which can give us a way of deciding whom to listen to about how the world is…

Unravelling the Truth

In an exclusive introduction to his new book A Short History of Truth, celebrated philosopher Julian Baggini takes on the thorny problem of veracity, uncovers ten types of truth and examines why, now more than ever, it’s our most valuable commodity.

Truth? It’s not just about the facts

From time to time, not very often, it looks as though the world has given philosophy a job to do. Now is such a moment. At last, a big abstract noun – truth – is at the heart of a cultural crisis and philosophers can be called in to sort it out. Send them back…

Six things… that challenge truth

I’m not convinced we live in a post-truth world. But truth is certainly in some kind of trouble, challenged on many fronts. Surprisingly, the sources of several of those challenges are good things…

Is this really a post-truth world?

To rebuild belief in the power and value of truth, we can’t dodge its complexity. Truths can be and often are difficult to understand, discover, explain, verify. They are also disturbingly easy to hide, distort, abuse or twist. Often we cannot claim with any certainty to know the truth. We need to take stock of the various kinds of real and supposed truths out there and understand how to test their authenticity.

We can work it out

In a brilliant piece of philosophical jujutsu, Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber turn reason’s weaknesses into strengths, arguing that its supposed flaws are actually design features which work remarkably well. All those biases and heuristics are not “quick-and-dirty” but “fast-and-frugal”.

Painful truths

Love is so last century. What the world needs now, the only thing that there’s just too little of, is empathy. Empathy is widely touted as the key to effective management, good government, better medical care, improved wellbeing, higher-achieving schools, excellent parenting, even world peace. It’s clearly time for a backlash…

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