The Paideia Archive: Twentieth World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 35, 1998

Philosophy of Mind

Mary Tjiattas
Pages 228-233

Functional Irrationality

The view that some forms of irrationality may serve a useful purpose is being increasingly entertained despite the disquiet it elicits. The reason for the disquiet is not difficult to discern, for if the view were made good it might threaten the unqualified normative primacy that rationality enjoys in the evaluation of thoughts, beliefs, intentions, decisions, and actions. In terms of the predominant ‘rational explanation’ model, reasons both generate and justify actions, and carrying out the dictates of reason is held up as an ideal. If it can be shown that under some circumstances or for certain types of actions irrational elements or procedures would produce ‘all things considered’ better results, this would put these deliberative ‘ideals’ in question.