WesMaps - Wesleyan University Catalog 2012-2013       Home       Archive       Search
The History of Rationality: From Moral Philosophy to Artificial Intelligence
HIST 340
Spring 2013
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: SISP 340

What does it mean to be rational? The question traditionally has been the province of philosophy, of treatises on logic, ethics, and scientific methodology; yet rationality is also pervasive in modern social and behavioral sciences. Economic theory typically assumes that humans are in some sense rational choosers, and cognitive scientists frequently explore just how rational (or more commonly, irrational) our decision-making actually is. Moreover, the central problems of rationality--what guides human thought and action, and what should guide it?--are the subject of anything from legal codes and books of etiquette or manuals for auctioneers. This course takes an expansive view of rationality and its history, tracing how the concept has changed over time, and critically examining its significance in the sciences and broader culture today. From early modern conceptions of logic as "the art of thinking" to Cold War attempts to build machines that might reason more reliably than frail humans, this exploration of reasoning and rationality explores several themes: the relationship between reason and other facets of the mind, especially emotion; rationality and gender; the relationship between choosing rationally and choosing ethically; and the fraught history of attempts to formulate universally valid principles of rationality.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS HIST
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (HIST)
Past Enrollment Probability: 50% - 74%

Last Updated on APR-17-2014
Contact wesmaps@wesleyan.edu to submit comments or suggestions. Please include a url, course title, faculty name or other page reference in your email ? Wesleyan University, Middletown, Connecticut, 06459