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E se lasciassimo perdere il dilemma razionalità/irrazionalità?

What if we overlooked the rationality/irrationality dilemma altogether?

Anno XXIII, n. 102, luglio-settembre 1988
Centro Einaudi


Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese

The author refutes Boudon’s definition of the polarity between rationality and irrationality together with his open conception of rationality. He objects that they fail to take into account the temporal asymmetries of rationality and the inevitable double level of the action and its explanation. All things considered, the debate about the dilemma of rationality against irrationality is, in this way, so unproductive it might even be preferable to drop it. When he speaks about temporal asymmetries, the author refers to cases in which the agent seems to act—in his own eyes as well as in those of an external observer—in a highly rational way in time t1 and in just as rational a way in time t2.
Comparison between action A1 in t1 and action A2 in t2 reveals, instead, that he has acted in an irrational way: in fact, the second action would appear to respond to preferences, aims, and calculations which deny those upon which the first is based. It may be argued that a meta-calculation of the action exists to explain this type of situation: it suggests that not only the two actions but also their sequence are actually rational. This calculation, however, is sufficiently remote from the actor’s common sense or consciousness to prevent him from imagining good reasons based thereon to explain both actions within the same reference pattern. This does not mean that the agent is guilty of irrationality but merely that he is scarcely in a position to bring forward good reasons.
In other words, it is a question of insufficient "linguistic intelligence". It is thus necessary to consider how the agent’s motivations cannot always be reduced and expressed in terms of "logical intelligence" (responsible for calculation of the adequateness of means to ends). In line with the results of the most recent psychological research, other types of intelligence should be acnowledged and the ways they function analysed.