In Praise of Reason: Why Rationality Matters for Democracy

In Praise of Reason: Why Rationality Matters for Democracy

by Michael P. Lynch
     
 

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Why does reason matter, if (as many people seem to think) in the end everything comes down to blind faith or gut instinct? Why not just go with what you believe even if it contradicts the evidence? Why bother with rational explanation when name-calling, manipulation, and force are so much more effective in our current cultural and political landscape? Michael Lynch

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Overview

Why does reason matter, if (as many people seem to think) in the end everything comes down to blind faith or gut instinct? Why not just go with what you believe even if it contradicts the evidence? Why bother with rational explanation when name-calling, manipulation, and force are so much more effective in our current cultural and political landscape? Michael Lynch's InPraise of Reason offers a spirited defense of reason and rationality in an era of widespread skepticism—when, for example, people reject scientific evidence about such matters as evolution, climate change, and vaccines when it doesn't jibe with their beliefs and opinions.

In recent years, skepticism about the practical value of reason has emerged even within the scientific academy. Many philosophers and psychologists claim that the reasons we give for our most deeply held views are often little more than rationalizations of our prior convictions. In Praise of Reason gives us a counterargument. Although skeptical questions about reason have a deep and interesting history, they can be answered. In particular, appeals to scientific principles of rationality are part of the essential common currency of any civil democratic society. The idea that everything is arbitrary—that reason has no more weight than blind faith—undermines a key principle of a civil society: that we owe our fellow citizens explanations for what we do. Reason matters—not just for the noble ideal of truth, but for the everyday world in which we live.

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Editorial Reviews

Political Studies Review
In Praise of Reason offers a very thoughtful, balanced, and persuasive defence of the value of using reason as the basis for collective decision making — it is an argument that scpetics and defenders alike should read.

Review of Metaphysics
Writing in a cogent, readable style, Lynch shows that reason is so intimately bound up with our emotions that it touches nearly every aspect of human consciousness.

Essays in Philosophy
Smart and innovative….Lynch writes a strong and easily accessible response to skepticism about reason and scientific inquiry….I highly recommend.

Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

This fun little book...shines with interest. Like a gifted interlocutor it engages and excites its readers, always drawing them into dialogue (if not always convincing them), and always leaves them better off for it.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262017220
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
03/16/2012
Pages:
184
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

Ernest Sosa

Objective reason stands to reason, and is to be followed for that reason.
How can this be so and what are the implications? The extensive answer in this book combines philosophical depth with historical and thematic breadth. It attains rigor without jargon, clarity with concision. It makes its case against currents of relativism in philosophical thought, and against currents of dogmatic conservatism in political thought. This needs to be done again and again, and Michael Lynch does it very well.

From the Publisher
"Some psychologists and philosophers have played down the scope of reason in our lives. Michael Lynch has done a splendid job of explaining what reason is,and why there is no good excuse for abandoning the Enlightenment's best idea: that we share a common currency of reason with our fellow human beings. What's striking about the book is the light touch with which the author handles profound arguments."—Anthony Gottlieb, author of The Dream of Reason

"Objective reason stands to reason, and is to be followed for that reason. How can this be so and what are the implications? The extensive answer in this book combines philosophical depth with historical and thematic breadth. It attains rigor without jargon, clarity with concision. It makes its case against currents of relativism in philosophical thought, and against currents of dogmatic conservatism in political thought. This needs to be done again and again, and Michael Lynch does it very well."—Ernest Sosa, Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy, Rutgers University

Anthony Gottlieb

Some psychologists and philosophers have played down the scope of reason in our lives. Michael Lynch has done a splendid job of explaining what reason is,
and why there is no good excuse for abandoning the Enlightenment's best idea: that we share a common currency of reason with our fellow human beings. What's striking about the book is the light touch with which the author handles profound arguments.

Read More

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