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The Descent of Reason: From Logos to Game Theory
CHUM 254
Spring 2011
Section: 01   02  
Crosslisting: PHIL 254, SISP 255, COL 233, HIST 256

In an era of recurring financial crises and political instability, debates over how to interpret and respond to our changing circumstances often circle back to the same fundamental questions: Just how rational are people? And what does "rationality" mean? Assumptions about the nature of human rationality have undergirded contemporary thinking on major problems of ethics, economics, and politics, from international defense strategy to the regulation of financial risks. Yet within the disciplines that analyze these problems, the nature of rationality is often taken for granted, and is seldom a topic of inquiry itself.

An interdisciplinary exploration of the genealogy of reason, from the ancient Greek concept of "logos" (often translated "reason") through to the modern formal theories of rational choice pervasive in the social, behavioral, and biological sciences today, is therefore timely. This course will investigate some of the many conceptions of rationality, past and present, that have shaped our understanding of human behavior and history, as well as some of the critiques of rationality that have been advanced since the 18th century.

We will focus on several themes that have historically characterized attempts to understand the nature of reason and rationality, including the relationship between reason and emotion; the role of reason in human happiness; the relationship between rational choice and ethical choice; the tension between attempts to formulate universal laws of rationality and recognition of the situational contingency of reason.

Essential Capabilities: Effective Citizenship, Logical Reasoning
This course will involve careful analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of various arguments that have been advanced in philosophy, the social sciences, and the natural sciences concerning the place of rationality in human life.

This course will also investigate the historical background to different conceptions of rationality that have been developed from antiquity to the present day and will provide students with a sense of the variety of perspectives that are possible in understanding the nature of reason and rationality.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS CHUM
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: None
Past Enrollment Probability: Not Available

Last Updated on JUN-23-2024
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