Michael P. Lynch
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Why does reason matter, if (as many people seem to think) in the endeverything comes down to blind faith or gut instinct? Why not just go with what youbelieve even if it contradicts the evidence? Why bother with rational explanationwhen name-calling, manipulation, and force are so much more effective in our currentcultural and political landscape? Michael Lynch's "In Praise of Reason"offers a spirited defense of reason and rationality in an era ofwidespread skepticism--when, for example, people reject scientific evidence aboutsuch matters as evolution, climate change, and vaccines when it doesn't jibe withtheir beliefs and opinions.
In recent years, skepticism about thepractical value of reason has emerged even within the scientific academy. Manyphilosophers and psychologists claim that the reasons we give for our most deeplyheld views are often little more than rationalizations of our prior convictions."In" "Praise of Reason" gives us acounterargument. Although skeptical questions about reason have a deep andinteresting history, they can be answered. In particular, appeals to scientificprinciples of rationality are part of the essential common currency of any civildemocratic society. The idea that everything is arbitrary--that reason has no moreweight than blind faith--undermines a key principle of a civil society: that we oweour fellow citizens explanations for what we do. Reason matters--not just for thenoble ideal of truth, but for the everyday world in which we live.
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