About the Cognitive Irrationality Project

The Cognitive Irrationality Project is a project lead by Prof. Anne Meylan at the University of Basel (Switzerland).

The project is funded by the National Swiss Fund (FNS) and started in September 2015 and will run for four years.The project also involves two PhD students : Marie van Loon and Melanie Sarzano, writing their thesis under the supervision of Prof. Meylan.

The Cognitive Irrationality Project aims at offering a general account of cognitive irrationality, mainly articulated around three subprojects.

Mapping the territory
The first subproject aims at providing a conceptual basis of cognitive irraitonality. This includes distinguishing cognitive irrationality from other cognitive properties such as being unjustified, being biased, being unreasonable and so on. It also includes understanding what are the precise relations between rationality and irrationality and reasons.

What goes wrong
This part of the project focuses on the idea that there is something going wrong in cases of cognitive irrationality, that somehow, irrationality constitutes a cognitive failure. The question in need of answer is then: what exactly goes wrong and at what stage does this failure occur? Relying on cases of pathological (delusions) and non-pathological cases of cognitive irrationality (self-deception, wishful thinking), the project will explore the role of hedonic considerations in the formation and state of such forms of irrationality.

The third part of the project aims at understanding the conditions under which one is responsible and blameworthy for one’s irrational beliefs. For instance, while it might seem intuitive to blame someone for their self-deceptive beliefs, it might seem unfair to behave analogously towards a person suffering from a pathological form of irrationality such as the Cotard delusion.

Read the project.


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