The project

Welcome to RACIO Rationality: Between Logically Ideal and Commonsensical in Everyday Reasoning.

RACIO is approved and financed by the Croatian Science Foundation (grant number IP-06-2016-2408).

The overall objective of the project is to determine the nature and the characteristics of rationality understood as a criterion of correct reasoning. The research area of the project is the space between two extremes. On the one end of the continuum there is a strong normative standard of rationality determined by formal logical rules and principles, and on the other there are a number of researches that strive to derive norms of reasoning from the actual people’s behavior in different kinds of deductive tasks. The project aims to connect the most plausible features of both camps trying to reconcile the normative power of logical norms with people’s actual limitations and possibilities in different areas of reasoning. The focal point of the investigation will rely on the logistic approach to rationality to be tested against subjects’ behavior in everyday reasoning situations.

To reach this objective, research activities will be focused on investigations in four more specific topics, in which the issue of rational norms is unavoidable; therefore, the sub-goals of the research are concerned with the following four topics:
1) Natural language as a media for deductive reasoning. If logical rules are (at least partly) normative for correct reasoning, the important sub-goal of the project is to investigate natural language’s possibilities to employ and mirror logical terms (in the first place, connectives and quantifiers). The way natural language implies logical terms determines its deductive expressive power and discloses its deductive and communicative function.
2) The role of individual differences in everyday reasoning. The salient feature of everyday reasoning is that the subject responds to a deductive problem as he understands it. It is perfectly possible that there are deep differences between reasoning subjects in representing the problem situation. These differences may cause the activation of a variety of reasoning mechanisms. If this hypothesis happens to be confirmed it will significantly contribute to the debate concerning uniqueness or plurality of the rationality standard(s).
3) The rationality of social interactions, particularly in the argumentative process as a higher form of communication. As a particular form of communication, the argumentative process is determined by the making and assessing of arguments, which requires a mutual recognition of communicative and deductive rules. The question of the nature of these rules brings us back to the norms of the rationality debate at the group level. Special attention will be paid to investigate the argument structure and fallacies in everyday reasoning and to determine the relationship between logical fallacies and fallacies in everyday reasoning.
4) Finally, the issue of critical thinking determines the investigation area in which all previously mentioned questions could be summarized, analyzed and tested in the context of various fields of everyday life. The results obtained from the first three fields of research will be used to enable the articulation of prescriptions for a possible improvement of critical thinking skills.

To reach each specific goal, team members will be focused on studying and analyzing (in each area of research) the results of contemporary investigations, combining and assessing them with our own insights.