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The Edge of Reason: A Rational Skeptic in an Irrational World Hardcover – October 25, 2016
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.1 pounds
- Hardcover : 272 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0300208235
- ISBN-13 : 978-0300208238
- Product Dimensions : 8.5 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
- Publisher : Yale University Press (October 25, 2016)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #971,050 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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Acknowledging that most of us form our fundamental beliefs irrationally, he argues that the role of rational argument is to give and assess objective reasons based on the existing evidence for our beliefs; reasons which are assessable and comprehensible by any competent person, that stand or fall irrespective of our personal beliefs, and that are compelling, yet open to revision if the evidence changes. In the broadest sense of the term, reason is seen as the ability to explain and justify our beliefs and commitments, and it is understood to involve personal judgement.
There are interesting discussions relating reason to the scientific process, to the findings of psychology and psychiatry, to politics and of course to philosophy.
Constructive opinion: 1) How many times/ways can the same thing be reiterated? The words AD NAUSEUM come to mind. 2) We all get wrapped up in our own cubicles of expertise, but the bludgeoning of how individual psychology affects viewpoint wears out about p. 102. 3) FIFTY-TWO instructions to using reason to interpret the world we live in? Really. Let's have a top ten; or to make it more ecumenical, 12.
Good for a day with five feet of snow and below zero temps, however.
Top reviews from other countries
Why are we caring less for it? One of the areas in which Baggini explores the apparent impotence of reason is religion. Both theists and atheists lay claim to reason in support of their respective positions. But if the median of mediation is reason, why is it, he asks, that both sides tend to end the debate without being convinced by the other? That is because the foundations of both arguments ‘are not built on reason’. The foundations of, say, theodicy (explanations as to why a good God allows evil) or the idea of the Trinity, are based on beliefs asserted to be true without more. Reason is thus used defensively to try and defend those asserted truth. Reason is not used constructively to prove, by logic, that those ideas are true.
Baggini examines the influence of psychology on the use of reason. He uses the ‘trolley problem’ in philosophy with the knowledge we now have of psychology, especially the psychology of hidden heuristics, an area explored by Daniel Kahnemann in ‘Thinkng Fast and Slow’.
Baggini devotes much space explaining where reason comes up short, but he believes that the shortcomings of this tool, once understood, makes us better thinkers and analysts. In this very lucid book, Baggini explores the division between theology and nature; foundationalism and coherentism; consequentialism and deontology; and Kant and Hume.
It is rare to find a book on such an important subject written so clearly, and incorporating all the latest thinking in science, religion, psychology, and philosophy.