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He views intuition as a form of unconscious intelligence. Intuitive decisions can be grounded in heuristics: simple rules of thumb. Heuristics screen out large amounts of information, thereby limiting how much needs to be processed. Such rules of thumb may be applied consciously, but in general we simply follow them without being aware that we are doing so. Although they can lead to mistakes, as Kahneman points out, Gigerenzer emphasizes that they can be based on reliable information while leaving out unnecessary information.

For example, an individual who wants to buy a good pair of running shoes might bypass research and brain work by simply purchasing the same running shoes used by an acquaintance who is an experienced runner. In one of their experiments, test subjects were asked to select which of the four cars was the best, taking into account four characteristics, among them gas consumption and luggage space. One set of subjects had four minutes to think about the decision; another set was distracted by solving brainteasers.

But if participants were asked to assess 12 characteristics, the opposite happened: undisturbed reflection had a negative effect on decision-making; only 25 percent selected the best car. In contrast, 60 percent of the subjects distracted by brainteasers got it right.

Investigators have been unable to replicate these findings, however. And in a review Ben R. Shanks of University College London concluded that the effect of intuition has been overrated by many researchers and that there is little evidence that conscious thought arrives at worse solutions in complex situations. Of course, problems in the real world can be considerably more complicated than the artificially constructed ones often presented in laboratory experiments. In the late s this difference sparked the Naturalistic Decision Making movement, which seeks to determine how people make decisions in real life.

With questionnaires, videos and observations, it studies how firefighters, nurses, managers and pilots use their experience to deal with challenging situations involving time pressure, uncertainty, unclear goals and organizational constraints. Researchers in the field found that highly experienced individuals tend to compare patterns when making decisions. They are able to recognize regularities, repetitions and similarities between the information available to them and their past experiences. They then imagine how a given situation might play out.

This combination enables them to make relevant decisions quickly and competently. It further became evident that the certainty of the decider did not necessarily increase with an increase in information. On the contrary: too much information can prove detrimental. A completely deliberative and analytic strategy would be too slow.

She asked managers at a food company how they use intuition in their everyday work. Almost all of them stated that, in addition to rational analyses, they tapped gut feelings when making decisions. More than half tended to lean on rational approaches; about a quarter used a strategy that blended rational and intuitive elements; and about a fifth generally relied on intuition alone.

Interestingly, the more upper-level managers tended more toward intuition. Malewska thinks that intuition is neither irrational nor the opposite of logic. Rather it is a quicker and more automatic process that plumbs the many deep resources of experience and knowledge that people have gathered over the course of their lives. Intuition, she believes, is an ability that can be trained and can play a constructive role in decision-making.

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Mind, rationality, and cognition: An interdisciplinary debate

Field findings published in by Lutz Kaufmann of the Otto Beisheim School of Management in Germany and his co-workers support the view that a mixture of thinking styles can be helpful in decision-making. The participants in their study, all purchasing managers, indicated how strongly they agreed or disagreed with various statements relating to their decision-making over the prior three months.

Rational decision-making was associated with good performance. Instead, I want to take a step back from this conversation to consider how our understanding of these relationships has evolved over time. In this way, my aim is to provide some context for these debates by charting a bit of the history of the interaction between these concepts. As already noted, in doing so, I will operate at a very high - and thus, inevitably, distorting - level of abstraction.


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But I hope the general trends I describe will be recognizable to students of the history of modern philosophy in the West. Of course, this leaves it open whether this sense of recognition is entirely to be trusted. A bit of meconnaissance , as our friends in France might say. But whatever the ratio of these elements, I think this story does have significance for our understanding of these debates. For, one thing I do think is true, and which is too often forgotten within the contemporary debate, is that the dominant understanding of these concepts and their relationships has been far from static over the history of philosophy.

My narrative here will involve four stages, which in the spirit of summer blockbusters we might label as follows: i The Age of Reason, ii The Rise of Reasonableness, iii The Triumph of Rationality, and iv The Return of Reasons. But at the same time, it is far more linear and straightforward than the history of our actual world. At this time, both psychology and philosophy in Atwater gave a central role to the notion of a mental faculty or capacity.

That is, each faculty was conceived of as having a distinctive aim or function - such that, when that faculty was functioning properly, its activities would contribute to this telos. First among these mental faculties and capacities was the faculty of reason.

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Everyone, not surprisingly, agreed that one of the primary activities of this faculty was the activity of reasoning - of drawing conclusions from premises - and they agreed that the function or telos of this faculty had something to do with knowledge or understanding. But beyond these basic points of agreement, just what the faculty of reason involved, and how far its reach extended, was the topic of much debate.

But almost all philosophers operated within a broadly faculty- or capacity-theoretic paradigm in making these sorts of claims.

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And almost all of them, no matter how empiricist they might be, thought of the faculty of reason as an especially important topic of philosophical and normative conversation. Most importantly for our purposes, the philosophers of this era did not merely give a central role to the faculty of reason in their psychological theorizing, they also placed this concept at the center of their thinking about more apparently normative matters, like the nature of rationality or what we have reason to do or believe.

For example, when one of the great anti-rationalist philosophers of this age attacked the pretentions of rationalist moralists, he wrote the following:. Actions may be laudable or blameable; but they cannot be reasonable or unreasonable: Laudable or blameable, therefore, are not the same with reasonable or unreasonable. For example, perhaps the greatest opponent of our anti-rationalist characterized the foundations of his own philosophical project as follows:. On his conception of philosophy, then, such basic faculties might be used to explain the possibility of other things - for example, the world of appearances or the categorical imperative - but their possibility could not itself be explained at least by us in more fundamental terms.

This, then, is where our story begins - with a time during which the notion of reason as a faculty was at the center of the network of concepts we are exploring.

Reason - Wikipedia

Our story concerns how Atwater moved from this state to one much like the present state of affairs in the actual world in which this notion plays a much more marginal role. Not surprisingly, one very significant part of this story involved a series of changes within Atwaterian psychology.

For, much as in our world, over the period we are exploring, the status of faculty psychology within Atwater was increasingly called into question from several directions. And as this occurred, it was only natural that the place of faculty-theoretic notions should also have been called into question in other areas of thought, like more normative areas of philosophy, as well.

But while it was an era with a great affection for reason, it was also a period in which traditional conceptions of reason and rationality came under increasing strain. Thus, the traditional conception of rationality, which focused on modes of intuition and reasoning capable of producing certain knowledge, was gradually replaced by a conception of reasonableness, on which being reasonable was fundamentally a matter of responding correctly to uncertainty in the face of less than fully conclusive evidence. The rise of this conception of reasonableness was associated with important developments in areas ranging from theology to political economy.

First, the rise of this probabilistic conception of reasonableness was closely tied to a growing skepticism about the forms of intellectual intuition or rational insight that were characteristic of more robust, rationalist conceptions of reason as a faculty. Indeed, the focus on probability was in some sense a replacement for more robust conceptions of reason or the intellect.

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For, in the absence of the forms of rational intuition that produced certain knowledge of substantive truths, the best human beings could do seemed to be to respond as reasonably as possible to our mixed and uncertain empirical evidence about the nature of things. Thus, as the scope of reason to deliver certainty become more limited, it was only natural for an increasing interest in merely probable grounds for belief to take its place. In this way, the move to a probabilistic conception of reasonableness was part of a general trend towards a more modest understanding of the faculty of reason and, by extension, rationality itself.

But at the same time, the emergence of this new conception of reasonableness put pressure on the traditional link between evaluative notions like reasonableness and the concept of reason as a faculty. For insofar as the faculty of reason remained limited to demonstrative as opposed to probable reasoning, any expansion of reasonableness to include probabilistic grounds for belief called into question the tradition connection between the faculty of reason, on the one hand, and the evaluative or normative notion of rationality or reasonableness on the other.

In this way, during this period there was the beginnings of a break between the concept of reason as a faculty and concepts of reasonableness and rationality. But only the beginnings. Here the very anti-rationalist philosopher we mentioned above again played a central role - developing as he did a conception of reason on which the primary manifestation of reason lay in probable reasoning, with demonstrative reasoning relegated to a supporting role. This is true, even though the Enlightenment conception of reasonableness was not itself purely formal or mathematical.

In all these ways, this new conception of reasonableness contained the seeds of the rise of formal conceptions of rationality, which will be the focus of the next chapter of our story. But nonetheless this connection remained largely in place during this period. To see these notions really come apart, we need to move to the next stage of our narrative - in which the conception of reasonableness we have just been discussing develops into a purely formal conception of rationality, decoupled both from the faculty of reason and any substantive claims about what it is rational to believe or do.

In keeping with this thought, our theorist conceived of rationality itself as coming in a variety of different forms. Or it might be a matter of the creation of new system of rules of the sort characteristic of administrative bureaucracy. This means that the world is disenchanted.