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19 February 2011


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Abilio Rodríguez

Thanks for info,

I just landed and I'm not aware of many things. I have visited the conference web page and meet with Biccheri, Colyvan and Herwig. totaly strangers for me. And this is hell now: more papers to read.

Catarina Dutilh Novaes

I don't know the work of Herwig at all, but I know Cristina Biccheri and her work a bit, and I know Mark Colyvan and his work quite well, and both are highly recommended.

Jon Cogburn

Catarina, I meant to ask you this two months ago, but it slipped my mind. Has any sort of philosophical consensus developed about what to say about Kahneman/Tversky examples such as Linda the Bank teller?

The last philosopher I read about who wrote on what psychologists call heuristic biases and logic was ten or so years ago while reading Stephen Stich, in his "The Fragmentation of Reason" ( ). But, even though I'm a big fan of Stich, my feeling then was that not enough philosophers were working on the issues for there to be anything like even a clear dialectical map of how the issues ramified out.

Here's an interesting note. Fifteen years ago there were rumors that the relevant committees came really close to scrapping the Nobel Prize in Economics and replacing it with one in the Humanities, the first which was widely expected to go to Kahneman and Tversky. But then Tversky died during the deliberations. I think given economists recent track record in the United States as mostly apologists for a bankrupt ideology that exists just to increase income inequality while stripping away New Deal protections for citizens, it would have been very nice for those guys to lose their prize. Oh well, they did end up just giving Kahneman the economics prize in 2002, and just as they found their way to give Sartre and Russell literature prizes earlier (Sartre arguably deserving it for literature at least).

Anyhow, if you know of a good overview on the state of play of Kahneman/Tversky in philosophy of mind, logic, and epistemology that would be really helpful. Of course if there is no such resource, that would be helpful to know too.

Catarina Dutilh Novaes

Jon, I know of no such overview on the latest developments regarding Linda and related issues. My feeling is that it's still pretty fragmented, everybody has their own theory of what is going on there. In fact, it's your typical test-case for different theories of rationality. As far as I know, philosophers are still not taking 'Linda' and her friends sufficiently into account.

One paper that I think does a good (no, GREAT) job at relating these results to philosophical discussions is one by Tamar Gendler:

Among other things, she quotes Stephen J. Gould on the Linda phenomenon, which I think is a great way of describing what is going on:

“I know that [T + F] is least probable, yet a little homunculus in my head continues to jump up and down, shouting at me—‘but she can’t just be a bank teller; read the description’” (Gould 1991, 469).

I have my own interpretation of the Linda case too, which serves my purposes of arguing that classical logic is contrived and 'weird' in most settings (both for mono-agent inner thinking and for multi-agent argumentation), but crucial in other settings. (But it's a long story!)

Catarina Dutilh Novaes

But for the record, I firmly reject dual-process theories of reasoning!

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