Whose Logic? Which Rationality?

Sometimes people invoke “logic” and “reason” as though these were self-evident, natural categories that can determine human action. In response, Margaret and I cite the following evidently fictitious example of someone exercising sensible, logical reasoning (via Boing Boing).

As Margaret pointed out to me, the protagonist made a plausible, reasoned decision; it’s not that he was frivolous or reckless, he was just ignorant and dangerously wrong. But we’re never in a position to know when our ignorance puts us at risk; that, after all, is what “ignorance” means. When someone assures you that we know X or a rational actor would do Y, ask yourself whether there’s any possibility that the “we” in question or the “rational actor” in question might be about as logical, about as reasonable, as the narrator of today’s story.

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