Niklas Anzinger


Sorted by New

Wiki Contributions



This may be a bit late or pedantic - but here is what I find weird about the use of "rationalism" or "rationality" as someone uninitiated, but having had an fairly high overlap with the reading list of this community for 15+ years:

I associate "rationalism" with its meaning in philosophy

In philosophy, rationalism describes "a methodology or theory in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive".

This is opposed to empiricism, in which sensory experience is the main source of understanding truth. Examples of rationalist philosophers are: Descartes, Kant and Ludwig von Mises (!).

It's kind of an extreme position nowadays, since it seems obvious to most reasonable intellectuals that BOTH logic and deduction and empirical observation are important (not to Mises or some Austrian Schoolers).

I also associate "rationality" with its meaning in economics.

In economics, rationality is a very frequently misunderstood assumption (at least by non-economists).

It's kind of a tautological definition, that only needs to fulfill the criterion of non-transitivity. If you prefer an apple A over a banana B, and a banana B over cacao C, you also have to prefer an apple A over cacao C.

Rationality means that actors pursue their chosen ends or preferred courses of action. It's not "irrational" if someone prefers to spend their time in religious study or practice as opposed to making money on the stock market (even though the monetary value is higher). 

It's not irrational if they don't give reasons for doing what they do, or have biases. It simply means they prefer not to explain themselves to you because they don't expect any value from it. 

They simply prefer religious study over making money, and there can be no external criterion that says one is more rational than the other.

Why this is important goes too far, but Herbert Gintis explains this well (see here).

It seems to be the better word choose is reasonable

Try to replace all words above with reasonable instead of rational. Unfortunately it doesn't roll off the tongue easily, the word "reasonbalism" sounds extremely clunky. 

But hey, is the ease of use a good reason to choose "rationalism", "rationality" and "rational" as the words to describe what this community is about - even though these terms are loaded?

Call me pedantic, but I find it exhausting to point out the extremely common misunderstandings about philosophical rationalism and the economic rationality assumption (more so the latter).

And I feel using "rationalism" as the word fuels the confusion.

I'm saying this from a position of sympathy. I think what's happening in this community is great, but the word choice risks that it will be misunderstood or at least require a lengthly explanation in the future.

How about "reasonism" and the "reasonist community"?