The dual process account of reasoning: historical roots, problems and perspectives
Despite the great effort that has been dedicated to the attempt to redefine expected utility theory on the grounds of new assumptions, modifying or moderating some axioms, none of the alternative theories propounded so far had a statistical confirmation over the full domain of applicability. Moreover, the discrepancy between prescriptions and behaviors is not limited to expected utility theory. In two other fundamental fields, probability and logic, substantial evidence shows that human activities deviate from the prescriptions of the theoretical models. The paper suggests that the discrepancy cannot be ascribed to an imperfect axiomatic description of human choice, but to some more general features of human reasoning and assumes the “dual-process account of reasoning” as a promising explanatory key. This line of thought is based on the distinction between the process of deliberate reasoning and that of intuition; where in a first approximation, “intuition” denotes a mental activity largely automatized and inaccessible from conscious mental activity. The analysis of the interactions between these two processes provides the basis for explaining the persistence of the gap between normative and behavioral patterns. This view will be explored in the following pages: central consideration will be given to the problem of the interactions between rationality and intuition, and the correlated “modularity” of the thought.
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