Friday, 18 November 2011

Cheating, Rationalism, Rationalisation and Rationality.

No this post is not merely a play on words, as has become so beloved in our country.

So what is it about?

Chen-Bo Zhong of the University of Toronto says that "research on ethical decision making has been heavily influenced by normative decision theories that view intelligent choices as involving conscious deliberation and analysis". In other words, research has been done on the basis that conscious deliberation is the most important part of ethical choices.

The question is whether this is so primarily in the West or, as Western influence has spread, whether it has become increasingly true also of other parts of the world?

In any case, current research (not only by Zhong) suggests that ethical decision making may depend on more metaphorical and embodied factors.

Zhong's own research suggests that deliberative decision making may actually increase unethical behaviors while reducing altruistic motives.

His findings highlight the potential ethical downsides of a rationalistic approach toward ethical decision making and he calls for a better understanding
of the intuitive nature of moral functions:

However, Zhong may be confusing deliberation with rationalism and rationalisation.

As rationality, rationalism and rationalisation have become increasingly intertwined in the West, is it possible that the rationality of less educated people, whether in the West or in India or other "developing countries", is more in tune with global ethical ideals?

After all rationality is not the exclusive province of educated people!

Moreover, educated people may be rationalistic rather than properly rational for reasons to do with the rise of rationalism rather than with deliberation itself.

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