Re: Sanderson on individuals and systems

Wed, 23 Apr 1997 07:32:15 -0600 (NSK)
Nikolai S. Rozov (

It is rather evident that Andrew Austin and Steve Sanderson use different
meanings of the term 'rational'. In such cases explicit definitions with
examples of 'what is rational'/'what is not' must clarify discussion.

As for me, Andrew's notion of rationality (thinking by axioms, logical
implications etc) is too narrow and i suspise that NOBODY, even
mathematicians and logicists (when they do not formulate final results) and
even self Andrew Austin do not think rationally in this sense.

At the same time isn't it rational to bye something on a market more
cheaply if it has the same or better quality? I think that Steve implied
namely this sense of term.

Andrew is right to maintain that rationality is socially-culturally up-
brought among growing generations. I also mostly support Andrew in his
assertion of priority of social-cultural whole (a cumulative result of non-
planned consequences of activities of previous generations).

But on the base of my psychological
education and parental experience i doubt in equality of selfishness and
altruism in pre-socialized human psychics. There is
no reason at all to bring up children as selfish, the only problem is how to
limit their (natural?) self-growing selfishness and/or how to give socially
plausible methods (training, labour, rules- respecting behavior etc) for
realizing their selfish goals. On the contrary
altruism in most cases must be artifically trained. For many years I do not
deal with psychology and apologize not to give supporting references, but i
think that the school of moral development of Piaget-Kohlberg obtains
correspondent empirical results.

Both Steve and Andrew strangely neglect the aspect of cultural diversity and

Is it rational to gain more money and consume more expensive goods and
sevices? Yes, but only if the cultural value priorities include richness
and consumption.

Is it rational to never gain any money and to live extremely ascetically?
Also YES! If cultural value priority is saving of individual soul, combined
with the world-view that ascetism is the most guaranteed way to save own
immortal soul.

I think that further discussion of rationality will be fruitless if we
neglect real cultural diversity and historical mobility of VARIOUS

best wishes,


Nikolai S. Rozov # Address: Dept.of Philosophy
Prof.of Philosophy # Novosibirsk State University # 630090, Novosibirsk
Fax: (3832) 355237 # Pirogova 2, RUSSIA

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