Beyond Rationality: The Search for Wisdom in a Troubled Time

Beyond Rationality: The Search for Wisdom in a Troubled Time

Beyond Rationality: The Search for Wisdom in a Troubled Time

Beyond Rationality: The Search for Wisdom in a Troubled Time

Excerpt

Judgment and decision making became the object of serious, systematic inquiry in the twentieth century. Much progress has been made, but there are still considerable divisions in the field, and what has been learned has not, in general, been disseminated either to the general public or to policymakers, although certainly there have been some efforts made in the latter direction. It is hoped that this book can be another step in that dissemination by showing what the problems inherent in judgment and decision making are, what we have learned about the processes we apply to the task, which strategies work when and why, and what new modes of thought will need to be applied for future progress. By breaking the field down into specific topics and then taking what we have learned regarding them and applying it to case studies of famous circumstances of judgment and decision making, we will provide an overview of the field while examining real-life applications. Our case studies are on a macro scale, but the general principles involved can be applied on any scale, from the most personal to the grandest.

Uncertainty

The greatest barrier to the competence of our judgment, and thus to wisdom, is uncertainty—not the subjective uncertainty we feel when we exercise our judgment, but the uncertainty in the world to which our judgments apply. And, unfortunately, there are very few circumstances where such uncertainty is absent, and so we are left with getting it right sometimes and getting it wrong sometimes, without a clue as to why it is one or the other. And when that happens, it's hard to know where the trouble lies. Our inherent limitations? Simply faulty knowledge? Our emotions or passions? Perhaps all of these. But the view taken here is that it's the uncertainty “out there” that obstructs and divides us. So we will first examine uncertainty, a topic that has always been significant in our lives and the lives of our forebears. And now that terrorism is also a significant part of our . . .

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