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Heuristics and Rationality Essay


What is a heuristic? Explain one of the heuristics Tversky and Kahneman identify in greater detail, and illustrate it with an example (e.g. an example from one of their studies).

The ability to make decisions in a fast and efficient manner is referred as heuristic. This means that the time taken to make a decision is made short, as an individual engages his mental ability into other functions. Heuristics is commonly known for its capacity in solving problems. This is achieved through experience and better strategies.

One example of Tversky and Kahneman heuristics is the intuitive judgement or the common sense. This is analyzed under the judgement and uncertainty. In this study, Tversky and Kahneman focus on rational choice in the human mind. It further states that a rational actor will always follow the elementary rules and the probability.

This is usually evidenced when calculating a particular course of action (Kahneman & Tversky 18). It deals with real life mechanisms that people use to solve their daily life problems. It produces a pattern of various judgements that relate to the heuristics and biases practices.

Those who take an Ecological or Panglossian approach argue that Tversky and Kahneman’s research does not show that our everyday reasoning and use of heuristics is bad or irrational. How do they defend this claim?

Tversky and Kahneman’s heuristics are based on three purposes; availability, representativeness, adjustment and anchoring. As a result, those who take ecological or Panglossian approach argue their research does not show the everyday reasoning and use of heuristics is bad or irrational.

Each day, there is always a challenge to change one’s mind and not changing the present situation. In this case, critics argue that the core ideas of heuristics and biases program are misguided. This is because heuristics offers a negative assess of an average person’s capacity to make sound and efficient judgements. On the contrary, people are always able to manage their lives satisfactorily (Gigerenzer, Todd & ABC Research Group 57).

They argue that human beings cannot be that dumb. These heuristics depict human decisions as flawed in a systematic manner. In fact, they depict human reasoning as being biased or fallacious. In this case, they depict human reasoning negatively, hence serving as the centre of disagreements and controversy.

There is an argument that heuristics do not assess the overall ecological validity of the entire process. Notably, ecology entails a correlation between the outcomes in the world with the various cues available and can be perceived by an individual. Assessment of the ecological validity in representation of the heuristics should be able to identify related objects, something that it does not consider (Olga 320).

Moreover, it should be able to assess correlating outcome and the value of each object, such as the recognition of the relative similarity of the prototype existing in each faculty. As a result, heuristics are unable to provide the correct measure as well as show how the representativeness is obtained.

Another reason for criticizing heuristics is that it focuses on identification of the cues that people use. In this process, the critics ignore to assess the overall cues and their values. On the other hand, heuristic and biases approach is not consistent in its analysis of evolution account. Although it recognizes constraints involved by the evolution of an organism, it is ironic to discover that the evolution account is one of the reasons that cause imperfection to the function.

Discuss an objection to the Ecological/Panglossian approach (it could be your own objection, or one presented in class or in Stanovich’s article). Whose position do you find more convincing and why?

Despite the various critics, there is an argument that ecological validities may be too high. Therefore, heuristics are useful and important despite various exceptions. The opposition by ecological rationality to the heuristic and biases does not demean the importance of these experiments. It is true to state that heuristics contain some unsound judgements. However, this is not an exhibit to portray the whole work as biased.

Therefore, I find heuristic and rationality discoveries by Tversky and Kahneman more convincing as opposed to the critics by ecological or Panglossian approaches. The overall characterization of human judgement and reasoning is meaningful (Kahneman & Tversky 82). Although this has not been done with highest levels of skill and accuracy, it is true to state that the faculty of reasoning is not hard to find and understand as the heuristics analyzes.

Panglossian have a dominant notion that people’s judgement is unbiased. Therefore, this approach tries to come up with double blind discoveries in the endeavour to show that their observations unbiased. However, they are unable to avoid them since they are also prone to biasness.

The argument that people are not dumb by the Panglossian is not convincing. Contrary to this argument, people will always perform tasks for survival and reproduction. Human faculties have also been affected by evolution. However, people have been able to inherit mental mechanisms that enable them to think critically and deal with their problems. Mental machinery is also prone to error or bias judgements. In fact, systematic errors are likely to occur not only in an experiment, but also in the human mind.

Works Cited

, Gerd, Todd, M. Peter, and ABC Research Group. Simple Heuristics that Make us Smart. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Print.

Kahneman, Daniel, and Tversky, Amos. Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics & Biases. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982. Print.

Olga, Kiss. “Heuristic, Methodology or Logic of Discovery? Lakatos on Patterns of Thinking.”Perspectives on Science 14.3 (2006): 302-317. Print.

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