Destre and I have been talking for a while now and we have been considering a definition of reason/rationality. The consequent of this project is that we are to look at the ‘applications’ of a proper definition of reason. Sofar we have the following:
i. Social science
Now we have thought about this.
Now. I was considering; how does rationality come to play when we form beliefs? DO we use reason at all? Or, like Hume says, are beliefs involuntarily pushed upon us (e.g. “Ow, that hurts”)? Is there such thing as a ‘rational belief’? Well; that’s the whole question that Destre and I are trying to ask, if there is such a thing as a rational belief, we must know what the word ‘rational’ means; and in all honesty, I don’t think I can come up with a definitive answer to that.
So, we could ask about the psychology of forming beliefs (a descriptive question); how do we form beliefs? Do we base our assent to truth on available evidence (Bayesianism)? Are there pre-epistemic, psychological factors to belief-forming; such as adherence to tradition, or the desire to believe in something as true? Or, as a Kantian may suggest, pre-cognitive categories which tries to apprehend the manifold of experience; pure categories unmixed by experience.
Then comes the normative question; how SHOULD we form beliefs? The former, descriptive question makes not judgement about what is a true or false belief; which is something many people want to know about. The latter question satisfies this curiosity. In all honesty, I am not confident about trying to answer this question, but more interested in the quid facti issue how beliefs are formed; rather than the quid juris issue of how beliefs should be formed.
Lemma: One related issue is how rationality relates to probability. I’m scared of tackling this question; and I’m sure Mr. Dawson (The Seed of Reason) may be better suited to answering this.