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How Reason Almost Lost Its MindThe Strange Career of Cold War Rationality$
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Paul Erickson, Judy L. Klein, Lorraine Daston, Rebecca Lemov, Thomas Sturm, and Michael D. Gordin

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226046631

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226046778.001.0001

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Enlightenment Reason, Cold War Rationality, and the Rule of Rules

Enlightenment Reason, Cold War Rationality, and the Rule of Rules

(p.27) One Enlightenment Reason, Cold War Rationality, and the Rule of Rules
How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind

Paul Erickson

Judy L. Klein

Lorraine Daston

Paul Rebecca

Thomas Sturm

Michael D. Gordin

University of Chicago Press

In the two decades following the close of World War II, philosophers, mathematicians, economists, political scientists, military strategists, computer scientists, and psychologists defined and debated new kinds of norms for “rational actors.” These norms were conceptualized as rigid rules, as algorithms. This vision of rule-governed rationality contrasted with traditional accounts of reason in at least three respects: first, the rules of rationality sought to eliminate rather than cultivate judgment; second, mechanical calculation, after declining in prestige due to economic rationalization, became an ideal of rationality; and third, the greatest obstacle to achieving rationality became inconsistency, rather than the passions or subjective caprice.

Keywords:   Algorithms, Charles Babbage, Calculation, Marie-Antoine-Nicolas Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet, Economic Rationalization, Enlightenment, Game Theory, Judgment, Programming, Rules

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