Monthly Archives: January 2013

Employers’ Demand for Critical Thinking Skills Triples

According to the Website, the proportion of posted job descriptions calling for “critical thinking” has increased 300% over the past seven years. This is consistent with other observations that critical thinking in the workplace continues to increase in significance.

An Argumentative Theory of Reasoning

In October, I had the pleasure of attending a symposium on the “Argumentative Theory of Reasoning” at which the keynote speaker was psychologist Hugo Mercier, co-author with Dan Sperber of a landmark paper published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences in 2011 entitled “Why do humans reason? Arguments for an argumentative theory.” Mercier’s presentation was organized by the Centre for Research in Reasoning, Argumentation and Rhetoric at the University of Windsor (Ontario). In this post, I’ll summarize in my own words the key points and lines of argument in Mercier’s presentation. (More details can be found in the original Sperber-Mercier paper, available online).

What is Reasoning?

According to Mercier, reasoning is the cognitive process in which reasons are used to weigh decisions and justify beliefs. As such, reasoning is not… Continue reading

Libertarian Paternalism?

Human beings have the capacity to reason. But we often don’t do it nearly as well as we could. We all make choices in our lives that add up to socially suboptimal outcomes. Could the government do better making some choices for us? Should it?

Consider the libertarian argument for the claim that a just society is one in which individual rights are rigorously and consistently protected by law. The key premise in this argument is that these rights — i.e., to life, liberty and property — are of paramount importance because each individual person requires these as conditions for the exercise of rationality. But if human beings don’t in fact exercise this capacity as they might (and perhaps as they should) would this ensure that the case for… Continue reading