Summary of The Function of Reason

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The Function of Reason summary


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Human reasoning is often flawed. So why has it evolved in the first place? Dan Sperber, a Paris-based social and cognitive scientist, believes that reason didn’t evolve to enhance individual cognition but support humans in their social interactions. This isn’t a light read, but getAbstract recommends Sperber’s deliberations to anybody who likes to take time to ponder one of the great philosophical questions about what makes people human.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How reasoning is different from the type of inferring that animals can do, and
  • What function reason serves in human society.

About the Author

Dan Sperber is a Paris-based social and cognitive scientist.



Reasoning viewed as a way of processing information isn’t a sort of “superpower” but mere inference within a specific cognitive sphere. Any animal that moves draws inferences from the environment and acts on them. What differentiates human reason from the inferential capacities of animals?

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