Melanie Sarzano and Marie van Loon (pictured below) also work on the Cognitive Irrationality project as PhD students.
LB: What interests you about irrationality? Why do you think it is an important theme?
1. The conceptual content of irrationality. Questions that are at the heart of this subproject are for instance: what distinguishes irrationality from similar but presumably distinct normative properties such as the property of being “un-justified” or the property of being “un-reasonable”?;
2. The intuitive “wrongness” characterizing the formation and the holding of irrational beliefs. What, after all, makes an irrational belief something wrong to hold?
3. The attribution of blame and responsibility for irrational beliefs. How is cognitive irrationality related to our being responsible for our beliefs? Does this relation substantially differ from the one at work in “normal” cases of doxastic responsibility, viz. cases in which we are responsible for beliefs that are perfectly rational?
LB: In what circumstances (if ever) do you think an agent is responsible and blameworthy for an irrational belief?
AM: We are working to accommodate certain intuitions that seem crucial to our understanding of irrationality and doxastic responsibility. Intuitively, there seems to be a difference, for instance, between our practices of blame in pathological and non-pathological cases of cognitive irrationality. Why do we ordinarily consider it to be legitimate to blame people for their self-deception but not for their delusions? Is this difference in treatment justified, and if so, why? The hypothesis we currently have in mind appeals to the subject’s capacity for self-narration and metacognition.