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Publisher's Summary

Reason, we are told, is what makes us human, the source of our knowledge and wisdom. If reason is so useful, why didn't it also evolve in other animals? If reason is that reliable, why do we produce so much thoroughly reasoned nonsense?

In their groundbreaking account of the evolution and workings of reason, Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber set out to solve this double enigma. Reason, they argue with a compelling mix of real-life and experimental evidence, is not geared to solitary use, to arriving at better beliefs and decisions on our own. What reason does, rather, is help us justify our beliefs and actions to others, convince them through argumentation, and evaluate the justifications and arguments that others address to us. In other words, reason helps humans better exploit their uniquely rich social environment.

This interactionist interpretation explains why reason may have evolved and how it fits with other cognitive mechanisms. It makes sense of strengths and weaknesses that have long puzzled philosophers and psychologists-why reason is biased in favor of what we already believe, why it may lead to terrible ideas and yet is indispensable to spreading good ones.

©2017 Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber (P)2017 Tantor

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Reason after the fact

I believe there is a slow consensus developing in Cognitive Science as to how Reason fits in to our daily life, and it is contrary to the long assumed belief that reason is a precursor to a decision.

In this book the author further develops the theory that we all for the most part use reason to justify an action, and there is good evidence that even long thought out Arguments are biased, and reason is only used after the fact to justify ones position.

Very, very interesting indeed!

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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reason is flawed but purposefully so

the authors make a solid case for the bias and laziness of reason to have evolved with the purpose of homo sapiens need to argue and defend their actions to others. since homo sapiens live in a highly social environment, reason should be considered another of the items in the toolbox that led to large-scale organization. beyond that, the authors convincingly portray reason as largely misunderstood and place it in its proper evolutionary perspective.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • A. Sal
  • deerfield beach, fl United States
  • 04-13-18

The case for Reason as an evolved module

I liked the depth the book gives to different psychological studies about how humans reason. How it explains reasoning with comparisons and it’s possible evolutionary path.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wishes to understand why we can disagree even when undeniable facts are shown to us.

I gave it a 4 star rating because the first half of the book had what seemed to me as a complicated background. Necessary though, but a bit difficult for me maybe because I’m an engineer an not a psychologist. But after the foundations are laid, the books walks and guides you through the reasoning path with ease, while being very entertaining. the