Hugo Mercier



Average rating: 3.72 · 2,000 ratings · 241 reviews · 3 distinct works
The Enigma of Reason

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4.23 avg rating — 255 ratings — published 2017 — 8 editions
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Why do humans reason? Argum...

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4.67 avg rating — 3 ratings
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This Explains Everything: D...

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3.67 avg rating — 2,041 ratings — published 2013 — 14 editions
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“take reason out of the interactive context in which it evolved, and nothing guarantees that it will yield adaptive results.”
Hugo Mercier, The Enigma of Reason

“Reason is flawed, but how badly? How should success or failure in reasoning be assessed? What are the mechanisms responsible? In spite of their often bitter disagreements, parties to these polemics have failed to question a basic dogma. All have taken for granted that the job of reasoning is to help individuals achieve greater knowledge and make better decisions. If you accept the dogma, then, yes, it is quite puzzling that reason should fall short of being impartial, objective, and logical. It is paradoxical that, quite commonly, reasoning should fail to bring people to agree and, even worse, that it should often exacerbate their differences. But why accept the dogma in the first place?”
Hugo Mercier, The Enigma of Reason: A New Theory of Human Understanding

“Whereas reason is commonly viewed as the use of logic, or at least some system of rules to expand and improve our knowledge and our decisions, we argue that reason is much more opportunistic and eclectic and is not bound to formal norms. The main role of logic in reasoning, we suggest, may well be a rhetorical one: logic helps simplify and schematize intuitive arguments, highlighting and often exaggerating their force. So, why did reason evolve? What does it provide, over and above what is provided by more ordinary forms of inference, that could have been of special value to humans and to humans alone? To answer, we adopt a much broader perspective. Reason, we argue, has two main functions: that of producing reasons for justifying oneself, and that of producing arguments to convince others. These two functions rely on the same kinds of reasons and are closely related.”
Hugo Mercier, The Enigma of Reason: A New Theory of Human Understanding

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