Rationality is a key concept in psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience. A divide and conquer approach between these disciplines, however, has prevented them from benefitting from one another’s progress. Typically, philosophers characterize what it means to be rational, psychologists empirically investigate where people’s thinking conforms with and deviates from those norms of rationality, and cognitive neuroscientists investigate the neural correlates of rational thinking and decision-making.

The aim of the “International Rationality Summer Institute (IRSI)” is to overcome this division of labor and to provide a framework in which students can learn the state of research in the neighboring disciplines and discuss recent developments in the diverse areas of rationality research. Some questions which will be discussed during the Summer Institute are:

  • What can normative theory of rationality from philosophy contribute to our understanding of human rationality?
  • What can empirical findings from cognitive psychology contribute to the development of normative rationality theories?
  • How can cognitive neuroscience help us understand human rationality? What is the connection between the brain and rationality?
  • How helpful are different versions of probabilistic theories for modeling human theoretical and practical reasoning?
  • What kind of ecologically rational heuristics do people use in everyday reasoning and decision making?
  • How useful are new logic-based theories such as inductive logics, non-monotonic logics, multi-value logics, default logics, deontic logics, etc., for modeling human thinking?
  • Which relations hold between logic-based, probabilistic, and heuristic theories of reasoning?
  • How can these approaches be combined in a unified theory of rationality, and should they even be combined?
  • How do general-purpose logical and probabilistic reasoning mechanisms interact with domain-specific ecologically rational heuristics?
  • What are the limits of logic-based, probabilistic, and heuristic theories of rationality?
  • What are the limits of neuroscientific methods to understand the nature of rationality?
  • How can we model “irrational behavior” within more interdisciplinary theories of rationality?
  • What is rational? (instead of “Are we rational”)?

The IRSI will last twelve days from September 04 until 16, 2016, and it will take place in Aurich (Germany). The target group are doctoral students and younger postdocs interested in human rationality. We plan to host a group of about 40 students with a high level of international diversity and interdisciplinarity.

The faculty will be internationally leading experts in rationality research, who will teach courses at the IRSI and pass on their expertise to a new generation of researchers. A highlight of the program will be the keynote talks.

Furthermore, students will have plenty of opportunities for professional and personal exchange. The program includes two young scientists’ forums in which students present their own research projects, and there will be several social events.

The IRSI 2016 is funded by