Public and Private Reasoning

Convenor: Kim Sterelny


Humans act from reasons, not just causes. They give one another reasons, in justifying and persuading and explaining to one another what they think and what they do. When reasoning goes wrong, decisions go wrong, often with catastrophic consequences for both individuals and groups. Reasoning together lies at the heart of a democratic society. By focusing sustained attention from many perspectives on 'Public and Private Reasoning' in its many forms, ANU will help deepen and broaden understanding โ€” both within the academy and among policy-makers, opinion-leaders and the public at large โ€” of the vital role that right reasoning can play in transforming Australia society.

This theme resolves into three components โ€”

Reasoning: Sources, Processes and Pitfalls

How ought we evaluate the quality of arguments and evidence? How can we recognize fallacies and errors of reasoning? How ought we reason in the face of risk and uncertainty? How do ideas emerge and evolve? What are the biological, psychological, linguistic and bases of human reasoning? What is the relation between reasoning and consciousness? When reasoning in public, what is the relation between individual meaning and social communication? What is the relation between ideal and less-than-ideal reasoning? What constitute failures of reason? What are the sources of resistance to reason?

Spheres of Reasoning

What are the distinctions between public versus private reasons? What are the differences between public versus private sector reasoning; how are corporate agency and corporate ethics distinct? What constitutes rational decision-making by individuals and groups? How are perceptions shaped and reasons framed: what is the importance of ways of representing ourselves and our world in science and society? How is reason manipulated?

Reasoning about Values

How do we see ourselves, individually and collectively? How do, and should, we reason about what's right and good? How can we reason across difference in a pluralistic society? How can we with the unreasonable? What are the relations between faith and reason?

Search this site only

Updated:  25 August 2014/Responsible Officer:  CASS Marketing & Communications/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications