Automotive Holiday Deals Up to 50% Off Select Books Shop Men's Athletic Shoes Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon Prime Music Sweepstakes egg_2015 All-New Amazon Fire TV Luxury Beauty Gifts Under $50 Amazon Gift Card Offer cm15 cm15 cm15 $30 Off Amazon Echo $30 Off Fire HD 6 Kindle Cyber Monday Deals Holiday Music in CDs & Vinyl Shop Now HTL
The Nature of Rationality (Princeton Paperbacks) and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more

Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $38.95
  • Save: $3.33 (9%)
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.
The Nature of Rationality has been added to your Cart
Used: Acceptable | Details
Sold by ToyBurg
Condition: Used: Acceptable
Comment: Eligible for FREE Super Saving Shipping! Fast Amazon shipping plus a hassle free return policy mean your satisfaction is guaranteed! Good readable copy. Worn edges and covers and may have small creases. Otherwise item is in good condition. The cover shows heavy wear.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

The Nature of Rationality Paperback – December 19, 1994

4 customer reviews

See all 6 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
New from Used from
"Please retry"
"Please retry"
$6.00 $0.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"

Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book
$35.62 FREE Shipping. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

  • The Nature of Rationality
  • +
  • Philosophical Explanations
  • +
  • The Examined Life: Philosophical Meditations
Total price: $71.60
Buy the selected items together

Special Offers and Product Promotions

  • Take an Extra 30% Off Any Book: Use promo code HOLIDAY30 at checkout to get an extra 30% off any book for a limited time. Excludes Kindle eBooks and Audible Audiobooks. Restrictions apply. Learn more | Shop now

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

To Harvard philosophy professor Nozick, rationality and belief are each an evolutionary adaptation to a world that changes in nonregular ways. Our acts resonate with symbolic meanings and "stand for" our principles and beliefs. In this boldly original, technical inquiry which will reward serious students of philosophy, Nozick uses decision theory to propose new rules of rational decision-making that take into account the symbolic, practical and evolutionary components of our behavior. He considers bias, the role of imagination, rational social cooperation and how society's decision-making results in incremental or sweeping institutional changes. This challenging treatise champions reason as a faculty that enables us to transcend our mere animal status and to strive toward goals by the light of principles.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Nozick is best known to the general public as the author of Anarchy, State and Utopia (BasicBks: HarperCollins, 1977), a work of political philosophy. He began his philosophical career, however, as a specialist in decision theory. Now he returns to his early field, suggesting a new approach that involves weighing conflicting accounts of rationality rather than choosing one account exclusively. Then he applies his approach to several unsolved problems. Contrary to most economists, he contends that it is often rational to take sunk costs into account; and he introduces a new category, symbolic utility, into decision theory. Nozick also innovatively addresses rationality of belief. He offers an evolutionary account of how the world shapes our beliefs and argues that goals can be evaluated by noninstrumental standards. This brilliant and intricately argued work is filled with original ideas. Despite some of the technical material, most of it is within the grasp of interested lay readers. Highly recommended.
- David Gordon, Bowling Green State Univ. , Ohio
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Hero Quick Promo
Holiday Deals in Kindle Books
Save up to 85% on more than 1,000 Kindle Books. These deals are valid until November 30, 2015. Learn more

Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (November 29, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691020965
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691020969
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,469,904 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 4 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By D. S. Heersink on July 10, 2006
Format: Paperback
Nozick, a consummate philosopher in the analytical tradition, addresses the central issue of philosophy itself. What is the nature of rationality? If Man is the rational animal that philosophers claim, what are the principles, features, properties, methods, functions, and purposes of reason itself? Nozick concedes any attempt to ground "reasoning" fails, and all reasons for reason are circular, but not viciously circular.

For the brevity of the book, Nozick covers considerable territory. He discusses how reason itself functions and the functions themselves (interpersonal, intellectual, overcoming temptation, investment, symbolic utility, and teleological devices), using decision-value (the most technical topic), Newcomb's Problem, Prisoners' Dilemma, and other distinctions, to explicate how one arrives at rational belief, the reasons we want rational beliefs, and some rules to obtain it.

The most interesting (and disappointing) chapter is on evolutionary considerations. Few philosophers to date raise the specter of evolution at all (unless it is the topic), when, as Nozick rightly suggests, it may have its own overriding features and its own reasons and justifications. He's clearly on to an important facet and introduces issues that "limit" the need for rationality as well as require it.

My principal cavil is that he treats natural selection as a purposive agent without any disclaimers or caveats. Worse, his natural selection's purposive agency is, of course, teleological. First, that's bad form, and second, it's bad (actually wrong) evolutionary science. A subsidiary cavil is that evolution becomes a "rug" under which a-rational, even irrational, decisions may be swept (which may be true, if he is not persuasive).
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Alexei Grinbaum on April 10, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Nozick is famous, always clear-thinking, always expressing himself briefly but to the point. His style makes the book a wonderful philosophical enterprise. But in fact, Nozick is still where social science was 10 years ago. He makes an impressive effort of combining different paradigms, evidentialism, causal theory, cognitive psychology, in one overall approach; he then applies this monstruous creature to old problems and paradoxes. The true reasons of these paradoxes, as was shown, for instance, by Bach (1984), are violations of applicability of classical rationality and decision-making theory. Not surprisingly, Nozick arrives to the same result with quite a different methodology. So, in brief, the book remains a brilliant study of ideas brought into social science years before; Nozick succeeds in beautifully arranging various paradigms. He still fails to be innovative in what concerns foundations.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steven H Propp TOP 100 REVIEWER on August 21, 2012
Format: Paperback
Robert Nozick (1938-2002) was an American political philosopher and professor at Harvard University; he also wrote Anarchy, State, and Utopia, Philosophical Explanations, and The Examined Life.

He admits early in this 1993 book, "The political philosophy presented in Anarchy, State, and Utopia ignored the importance to us of joint and official serious symbolic statement and expression of our social ties and concern and hence (I have written) is inadequate." (Pg. 32)

He suggests, "In the study of reliable processes for arriving at belief, philosophers will become technologically obsolescent. They will be replaced by cognitive and computer scientists, workers in artificial intelligence, and others." (Pg. 76)

He asserts, "My argument that instrumental rationality is not the whole of our rationality has not been disinterested. If human beings are simply Humean beings, that seems to diminish our stature. Man is the only animal not content to be simply an animal." (Pg. 138) He later adds, "But rationality's power does not reside only in its striking individual triumphs. Rationality has a cumulative force." (Pg. 175)

This is not my "favorite" among Nozick's books, but it is still of interest to students of contemporary philosophy.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
According the Greek mythology, the rationality was represented by Apollo, which meant the supreme perfection and the astonishing symmetry. In this sense, the author always proposes hisproblems in a disconcertingly original way: " Why exactly should we want to act and believe rationally ? ... Why should we formulate principles of action and try to stick to them ? "

As you know, the further discussion of these interesting issues would lead us to establish a large exchange of ideas.

"The man is conservator by own nature, but when this tendency weakens, the revolutions tend to preserve it"

Ernesto Sabato
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
The Nature of Rationality
This item: The Nature of Rationality
Price: $35.62
Ships from and sold by