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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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The Collapse of Cold War Rationality

The Collapse of Cold War Rationality

(p.159) Six The Collapse of Cold War Rationality
How Reason Almost Lost Its Mind

Paul Erickson

Judy L. Klein

Lorraine Daston

Paul Rebecca

Thomas Sturm

Michael D. Gordin

University of Chicago Press

From the 1970s well into the 1990s, psychological research on human rationality was dominated by the so-called heuristics-and-biases approach as developed by Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky, and others. They assumed that formal rules of logic, probability theory, and rational choice theory provided the norms of rationality, and that humans all too often fall short of these standards, instead employing heuristics that can lead to biases. Political scientists and policy analysts applied this approach to many other areas, from voting behavior to arms negotiations to international crisis management. However, following a scathing critique by the philosopher L. Jonathan Cohen in 1981, many psychologists began to raise strong objections to the heuristics-and-biases approach. Eventually, the Cold War hope for a unified concept of rationality providing the tools for perfectly understanding, predicting, and dealing with political conflict was destroyed. It is not clear what should replace it.

Keywords:   Polish Crisis of the 1980s, Heuristics and biases, Daniel Kahneman, Amos Tversky, Linda problem, Irrationality, L. Jonathan Cohen, Fragmentation of rationality

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