A Theory of Rationality Articulates Our Practices

#proposition2 mentions

Any Theory of Rationality is normative – it describes how a rational agent should evaluate beliefs, not how they in fact evaluate them.

To see how this is not a problem, we start with the question why we attribute normative power to the theory in the first place. We do that because we’ve reached a reflective equilibrium concerning its merits – we think it is the most reasonable account in the light of practical experience, that is, the most useful account we know of. If this is correct, then the theory must reflect and articulate our practices.This means it will be a pragmatist theory of rationality.

This Articulation, i.e. making explicit, is the actual job of a theory of rationality: The normativity was there before, it is implicit in our practices; the theory has to show how and when exactly it works to our evolutionary advantage, when and why it doesn’t, and thus help us improve upon it.

Of course this calls for different methods than in sciences that don’t deal with social practices. But under a pragmatist banner, the final aim doesn’t differ from these other sciences: To increase our chances for success.