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Part 1: Two Systems 
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
The term "rational" has different meanings in different disciplines.

In economics, a rational agent is someone who is self-interested, that is, chooses what is most likely to bring what one most wants. (According to rational choice theory, you make rational decisions by determining how probable each choice outcome is, determining what the value (utility) of each is, and multiplying the two together for each choice outcome. The one with the highest product is your best--more rational--choice.)

In clinical psychology, rational is typically used to distinguish reality-based beliefs and behavior as opposed to delusion-based. Paranoid thinking is usually highly logical but completely irrational. If the premises (such as "the government is spying on me") were actually true, the predictions and inferences paranoids make are logically entailed. The problem is that the premises are usually false.

In philosophy, rationality usually refers to the reasons underlying one's beliefs or actions. They should be logically connected or supported by relevant and coherent evidence.

In moral philosophy, rationality usually refers to basing moral judgment on reason and deliberation, usually (but not always and not solely) cost-benefit analyses. Kant argued that moral principles (or imperatives) could be derived through reason alone essentially by stating the principle as a universal rule and then assessing whether it led to contradictions.

The role of emotion in moral judgment has a long history, and moral theories in philosophy, psychology, and jurisprudence differ in terms of the role assigned to emotion. Some believe it is and should be nothing more than an side-effect (epiphenomenon) while others believe that it does and/or should play a causal role.


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Wed Sep 05, 2012 1:08 pm
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Kant's categorical imperative, to "act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time, will that it should become a universal law", appears at first glance to be suitable as a moral axiom, but as the truth telling example shows, it is difficult to apply consistently in practice. Christian maxims, such as love God and neighbour, or do as be done by, also function like a categorical imperative, a foundation of absolute duty. But as they are worked out, they face problems such as differing interpretations of God and the legitimate boundaries of compassion. Love your enemies is a moral principle that appears entirely paradoxical, but still has some useful content.

Morality is generally seen as rule based - codifying principles for good and bad conduct. If we could just apply rules, then morality could be purely logical. But life is so diverse that we continually have to assess specific cases that are not simply decided by rules as a cookie cutter. Emotion, practicality, compassion are needed to make pragmatic workable decisions.

The problem is the balance between pragmatism, which is mainly guided by System 1 intuition, and principle, which sticks closely to the logical process of System 2. Kahneman shows that we imagine we are logical, but are actually much more intuitive. His examples show how to be more psychologically aware, which amounts to considering how to rely more on logic in decision making.


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Robert, I found myself wondering why your posts seem to be "corrections" to my content, I believe it might be due to the fact that (I just noticed) my mini-profile beside my comments states that I am a creative writing student. In fact, I hold a PhD in experimental psychology, am the author of several books (including Good Thinking: Seven Powerful Ideas that Influence the Way We Think- Cambridge, 2012) as well as dozens of scientific and scholarly papers, and have taught advanced courses in philosophy and psychology for nearly 30 years, including courses on reasoning and decision-making. I will edit my profile to correct this. I don't know how the "creative writing student" ended up getting displayed because it is not on my user control panel profile.

For more on my background, please see www.denisecummins.com


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Penelope wrote:

I am trying to make up my mind, whilst reading this book, whether fast thinking is inferior to slow, rational thinking. Or whether we need to feel encouraged to use both types. Do we really have a primeval, intuitive mechanism, which is addled from lack of use?



Before I retired, I worked for managers that made quick decisions after being presented with issues and problems and then those that have to think these things through for days or even months. And then there were those that used both methods as strategy to win over other groups involved. Where I worked there were multiple partners called stakeholders and it seemed the main reasons for any decisions were to win over the other partners. Not sure if there was any compassion and know there was very little reason or rational thinking. It was unusual to have quality managers and probably leaders were at a level that can't be counted it is so small.

Sadly, I have worked for virtually no one that actually picks the right strategy for the right situation!!! Often a quick decision that is based on "gut reaction" is way off target and there are severe consequences, or the decision to think things through causes disaster.

I believe that neither is inferior to the other and that we need to encourage both types. But there needs to be some basis for determining which reaction is most appropriate. We obviously do have some intuitive power that goes hand-in-hand with what our mothers and fathers taught us about not crossing the street when a car is coming. As we know that science is learning more about the human brain all the time, I believe that at some point science will be able to discern just where that other 90% is that most human beings are not using (as there is a rumor that we only use 10% of our capabilities). Just hope the other 90% does not involve reading others' minds. What a mess that would be!!!



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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
denisecummins wrote:


The question is which one is the "right" answer. Moral judgments are not like math decisions; there aren't clear right or wrong answers. Even moral philosophers disagree, so normative moral theories are frequently based on consensus.

To use again the "murderer at the door" example, Kant believed it was always wrong to lie, even if lying would save an innocent life. Utilitarians like Bentham and Mill believed saving a life outweighed the minor wrong of lying. Kant was concerned with deriving universal categorical imperatives that applied to everyone everywhere and every time. Obviously, not everyone agrees with that.

So what is "rational/relevant" and what is "irrational/irrelevant" is not clear cut. Psychopaths and people with damage to ventromedial prefrontal cortex act like strict utilitarians. Psychopaths also show virtually no compassion or empathy for others, and are capable of great harm to others as a result.

Bottom line: I think we agree that cost-benefit analyses and compassionate/empathetic concerns are integral parts of the moral judgment process. When we exclude either, we make bad judgments that too often have led to atrocities.


There are situations, both as relates to economics and instances where less analytical data is available, where rational judgment goes out the window. Some people can be presented with cost analyses and reports and expert opinions and still go with their gut.

Many amazing business decisions are made by unique individuals that certainly look at data and then go forward to sucess that other business owners could be produced in pill form. I am sure that a scientific profile could be made of these people to explain at least individually what makes them so different or special. One example: A story and then the example of moral and rational (or combined really).

I live outside Seattle. Drive near the city and the air is filled with the smell of coffee. There are coffee stands in every block and some in between at kiosks or stands. This was not Seattle once.

I was at a meeting of some Seattle entrepreneurs and venture capitalists about a year ago and a gentleman told a story about how he and several of his friends were sitting around and one man ran an idea past them. He was thinking of starting up a business with coffees from all over the world and in various styles and forms. He would have to charge $3.00 or $4.00 for these drinks. He thought he could get that because of the uniqueness of the product.

Everyone at the table told him the idea would never fly!!! No one would pay that much for a simple cup of coffee they could get everywhere for $.75. But the guy started Starbucks anyway!! The gentleman that was speaking sort of laughed and said that was just how it happened. This guy probably saw reports and cost benefit analyses and had advisors (like his friends above) that thought he was nuts!!! (Not to say that he failed to get the facts that sold him on the idea in the first place).

He does not buy all his coffee from countries that have poor working conditions; he does buy a percentage. Some of the best coffee is avaiable where the working conditions ar very bad. He also contributes a small amount of the money made on his bottled water to ecological projects. This makes him feel good and look like he is trying to do the right thing. So he made a rational decision to make a compassionate decision. I have heard in various business circles that he did take a loss, although not a significant one, when he decided to get some of his coffee blends from countries where the working conditions were better and the varieties available.

Much of this discussion is cerebral and I admit I am not blessed with any scientific credentials, although I have read Hume and Locke and Kant a long time ago. (There is no way I am ever going to tell a friend that her outfit sucks and she looks terrible in it, even if I am lying through my teeth!) However, I know that science cannot always see how individuals make their decisions. It is true that if an individual and his/her background was studied then it is probable that predictions could be made of their future actions (barring cataclysmic events that change personalities). And of course group experiments have been made. But for everyone on the street, not so much.

In another book club I belong to a gentleman is reading that one in every one-hundred individuals is a psychopath. From the news and books, seems like a lot more. And haven't we come a long way from when everyone just said these people were nuts, shrugged their shoulders and locked them in asylums? But here is the moral dilemma. Once science is able to identify these individuals to a certainty say in the womb, or in childhood, what will society's decision be? What action will be taken; what laws written? I have heard and read that there is no science that would cure psychopaths of sociopaths. There is just something missing that is present in the majority of people as denisecummins notes in one of her posts. So treatment is not an option. Some of the drastic measures like locking them up forever or lobotomies? What would be a decision based solely on rational thinking?

Scary stuff!!!

I have friends who work for Child Protection Services. Most of them have at least a Masters in Counseling. Some of the younger ones have taken courses to help them understand what data is available to help them make decisions. But sometimes they can use all of this knowledge and still make the wrong decision. Often the wrong decision is to leave a child with a parent (or parents) that are not fit. They have used both reason and compassion to make their decisions. Of course they recognize that there are scientific facts that say some of these decisions will be wrong. But the consequences!!!

In Washington State there was an experiment a few years ago. For repeat sex offenders, a section of a prison was created. There would be no release. Science told officials that most offenders repeated and the state was just tired of this eventuality. That is oversimplifying the entire scenario, but this experiment was shut down. I have my viewpoints based a bit on the science, but mostly on compassion. But it was determined that these individuals have human rights and should serve no longer than their sentences. The main reason it was put in place was that the laws could not change, or not fast enough, to make the punishment fit the crime.

It is possible that denisecummins was even involved in writing some of the studies that were used by these people above to make some of their decisions. Sounds like she has published quite a bit of material on relevant subjects that would apply.

But basically we can quote so many different generations of thinkers who differ on which strategy is most worthwhile, or the consequences of each approach. They may or may not have been brilliant for their times. They could only base their writings on what they could see so far in time. I see their material as historical references, just as I do the writings of Aristotle. And as history has a habit of repeating itself, the relative merit of this material has to be matched with the today.

I cannot imagine what future thinkers will see in the work being done today!!



Thu Sep 06, 2012 12:23 am
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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
denisecummins wrote:
Robert, I found myself wondering why your posts seem to be "corrections" to my content, I believe it might be due to the fact that (I just noticed) my mini-profile beside my comments states that I am a creative writing student. In fact, I hold a PhD in experimental psychology, am the author of several books (including Good Thinking: Seven Powerful Ideas that Influence the Way We Think- Cambridge, 2012) as well as dozens of scientific and scholarly papers, and have taught advanced courses in philosophy and psychology for nearly 30 years, including courses on reasoning and decision-making. I will edit my profile to correct this. I don't know how the "creative writing student" ended up getting displayed because it is not on my user control panel profile.

For more on my background, please see http://www.denisecummins.com


Wow Denise, it is an honour that you join our discussions. I hope some people read your books as a result. Your work looks very interesting and informative. I really hope you can continue to participate in the discussion on Thinking, Fast and Slow.

I certainly wasn't wanting to correct you, just to seek clarification, continue a dialogue, mention ideas that might help others to chip in, and open up other perspectives. Internet discussion can be difficult; it is often as Kahneman puts it, what you see is all there is. I sometimes find a more provocative presentation of a debate helps to crack open content, not meaning to be at all disrespectful.

I have had a bee in my bonnet about David Hume since I studied him years ago. I probably have a fairly idiosyncratic view on these matters, such as the relation between morality and logic, but am always up for conversation, and really appreciate the insights you have been able to share on these complex topics. My studies were in philosophy, and I am particularly interested in the fact/value distinction and how we can base morality on evidence. So Kahneman's work helps to put these speculative questions in an empirical psychological framework.


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Quote:
Casey wrote:

Before I retired, I worked for managers that made quick decisions after being presented with issues and problems and then those that have to think these things through for days or even months. And then there were those that used both methods as strategy to win over other groups involved.


Quote:
denisecummings wrote:

Moral judgments are not like math decisions; there aren't clear right or wrong answers. Even moral philosophers disagree, so normative moral theories are frequently based on consensus.


My husband was a design engineer before he retired (Professor of Hard Sums). He often described to me, pondering over a piece of calculation for hours, ending the working day, coming home, forgetting about it and then waking up after a night's sleep with the answer there in his head, retrieved from the ether it would seem. This happened often.

Granted that a design, mathematical decision is not like a moral decision, but I think that the judgment process would work in the same way.

Basing moral decisions on concensus sounds democratic, but could surely be lethal. Conscensus of opinion is very easily swayed by the manipulative use of language. NLP - Neurolinguisting Programming is frighteningly effective, especially used by a powerful and over-influencial media......but I'm sure I get boring through my tendency to keep banging on about this particular issue. :(

I have come to the conclusion that the profound acceptance of the major religions only appears coherent because of the 'everybody's saying it - so it must be true' syndrome. Haven't experiments been carried out whereby three people are asked a maths question, and if two (by prior arrangement) give the same wrong answer confidently, the third will doubt his own calculation of a very basic addition? Furthermore...will give the wrong answer so as not to look foolish?


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Penelope, your husband's experience is called insight. I have a section on that in my book Good Thinking. In it, I describe the many scientific and other discoveries that were the outcomes of insight, and explain our current understanding of how the insight process works.

With respect to the proper place of insight and "gut feelings" in decision-making, I think it might be useful to consider this: There is a subdiscipline in Philosophy called Experimental Philosophy which uses scientific methodology to address questions of normative theories (theories that are supposed to be the standards to which judgments and reasoning are held). It grew out of a sense of exasperation with schools of Philosophy that depend solely on intuition as their justification for deriving theories or figuring out what the "right answer" is. The exasperation came from the fact that oftentimes philosophers had very different intuitions about what the "right answer" is. To each camp, the answer was intuitively obvious and those who disagreed just didn't understand or were fools. So when even the experts have different intuitions, how do you select among them?

This is the problem with relying solely on intuition--there is no objective benchmark to measure the accuracy of the intuition. In science, you can test a theory by experimentation that yields directly observable and measurable outcomes. The scientist may have an intuition about something--and many theories and hypotheses start out as intuitions--but at some point they have to be tested in ways that produce outcomes that can be measured and directly observed by everyone--even people whose intuitions differ from yours.

As a simple example, everyone's intuition prior to Galileo was that heavier objects fell faster than light objects. Galileo put that intuition to the test, and found it to be wrong. My colleague, Dan Simons, co-authored a book entitled The Invisible Gorilla that details many examples of how our intuitions often prove to be dead wrong. In fact, Danny Kahneman and his deceased co-investigator Amos Tversky published dozens of papers showing that people's decision-making is often flawed through over-dependence on heuristics and biases.

Does that mean we should ignore or throw out intuition (and emotion)? No. But I think it does show that relying solely and blindly on them can lead us astray. We need the whole pie--intuition, deliberation, and (frequently) time-saving heuristics.


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
By the way, my profile still says "creative writing student". Anyone have any idea how to change that? My user profile has accurate information, and I don't know where this "creative writing student" label is coming from. Thanks.


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Denise, don't take it to heart! It's a randomized nomiker, purely for play. Everyone has a different one. It's not some subtle attempt to demean you. It changes every time you pass a multiple of 50 posts.


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Interbane, yeah, I just heard from Chris about the names referring to the number of times a person has posted. I didn't feel I was being demeaned, just misrepresented! The ironic thing is that my daughter really is a creative writing student in an MFA program. She got a kick out of hearing that I was a "creative writing student" on this site!


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Quote:
Interbane said:

Denise, don't take it to heart! It's a randomized nomiker, purely for play. Everyone has a different one. It's not some subtle attempt to demean you. It changes every time you pass a multiple of 50 posts.



I was going to say that!!!

Sometimes those little labels make one cringe.....but not on purpose. :wink:

With regard to corporate decisions:-

I go with the theory that a camel is a horse designed by a committee.


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Penelope wrote:
Quote:

Basing moral decisions on concensus sounds democratic, but could surely be lethal. Conscensus of opinion is very easily swayed by the manipulative use of language. NLP - Neurolinguisting Programming is frighteningly effective, especially used by a powerful and over-influencial media......but I'm sure I get boring through my tendency to keep banging on about this particular issue. :(

I have come to the conclusion that the profound acceptance of the major religions only appears coherent because of the 'everybody's saying it - so it must be true' syndrome.



Not boring at all. Interesting and engaging. And if you are banging on so are most of the others involved in this discussion, myself included.

Consensus decision making is lethal, boring and often unproductive. In a couple of exercises that my government office thought they were taking from private business, concensus decision-making was trotted out. (Keeping in mind that government is usually 10-15 years behind private industry in their use of new ideas.) This exercise was planned to fail as the upper tier was more than aware that without learning how to use these tools many would go into a room and get lost in territorialism and a surplus of emotional thinking. Many thought consensus was a majority vote. Sometimes it seemed like a replay of Twelve Angry Men (may have gotten that title wrong but it was the movie about the all male jury in the 50's that while "deliberating" just sat around and fought for hours and hours; starred Lee J. Cobb and I think Henry Fonda). So the tools were not provided. (I don't know if the failure of such examples was so thoroughly planned in private industry, but I know that quite a few team decision-making exercises failed in government offices. Management could then sit back and say "we knew it." "That is what happens when you let people who have no training and skills attempt to make decisions way above their pay grade." Of course this gets to the need for management to plan for their own survival. (Not sure this falls into the category of "survival of the fittest, or even "only the strong survive" so much as it is a lesson that those that have all the marbles.... Slot machines at casinos would be a good example: can't win, but people keep trying). If teams learn how to make decisions then what are middle and upper managers needed for; there was a huge fear on the part of the people actually charged with testing these new techniques that they would be out of work, which of course many workers thought was a wonderful strategy and one that would save far more money that letting all the line workers go!!!

I only met a few managers that realized ideas could be generated in a team environment, where the proper information was provided, and that they would benefit. These real leaders were overruled.

And I think we can all see every day how the media influences decision-making. I remember when I was in my teens my mother read a newspaper article that said the Mafia did not exist and it was all just made up. There was no organized crime. Of course this was one paper's opinion. But Mom believed what she read in the newspaper as so many did then. (Used an example from long ago to avoid a political free-for-all given I am sure members have their own viewpoints.) Now there are so many more types of media that can persuade to their viewpoints. Billions are spent by women (mostly, but admitted some men) who see a supermodel using a certain hair product or makeup and think they will look like that if they buy this product. Wow!!! That is just amazing to me. (Okay, I admit that I did want hair like Farrah Fawcett, but that would be me and about 30 million other women!!!)

What I am sure we all know, as we all share the same love of reading, is that any type of decision can be informed by books (and there are many out their with almost any viewpoint imaginable), but there are many other factors that influence human beings. denisecummins has studied this extensively and her posts are very interesting to me. I don't understand all of what she is saying, but it is great to read about current science and her work to verify the facts known about how the mind works. Thanks.



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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
Quote:
Casey wrote:

This exercise was planned to fail as the upper tier was more than aware that without learning how to use these tools many would go into a room and get lost in territorialism and a surplus of emotional thinking.



This reminds me of a poster we had pinned up when I worked at the Salvation Army:-

Brilliant Cartoon Picture with the caption:- When the crocodiles are biting your bum, it is hard to remember that the original plan was to drain the swamp.


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Post Re: Part 1: Two Systems
denise and robert:

I wasn't familiar with the word 'heuristic'. I googled it and found the following:-


Quote:
heu·ris·tic (hy-rstk)
adj.
1. Of or relating to a usually speculative formulation serving as a guide in the investigation or solution of a problem: "The historian discovers the past by the judicious use of such a heuristic device as the 'ideal type'" (Karl J. Weintraub).
2. Of or constituting an educational method in which learning takes place through discoveries that result from investigations made by the student.
3. Computer Science Relating to or using a problem-solving technique in which the most appropriate solution of several found by alternative methods is selected at successive stages of a program for use in the next step of the program.
n.
1. A heuristic method or process.
2. heuristics (used with a sing. verb) The study and application of heuristic methods and processes.

also:-

1. helping to learn; guiding in discovery or investigation
2. (Social Science / Education) (of a method of teaching) allowing pupils to learn things for themselves
3. (Mathematics)
a. Maths Science Philosophy using or obtained by exploration of possibilities rather than by following set rules
b. Computing denoting a rule of thumb for solving a problem without the exhaustive application of an algorithm a heuristic solution

the most comprehensible to me read:-

Heuristic refers to experience-based techniques for problem solving, learning, and discovery. Where an exhaustive search is impractical, heuristic methods are ...


You already explained that the word 'Rational' means something different in this discipline.

A glossary would be helpful. There isn't one in the book. Might you be able to copy and paste one for us? Please?

So that we're all singing from the same hymn-sheet. :D


_________________
Only those become weary of angling who bring nothing to it but the idea of catching fish.

He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world is mad....

Rafael Sabatini


Fri Sep 07, 2012 3:25 am
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