Drawing the Line: Rational Cognitive Therapy, Information, and Boundary Issues

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It has been claimed that cognitive therapists endorse sets of uplifting beliefs BECAUSE the client feels better believing them: not because they lead towards greater verisimilitude, a purported cognitivists’ hallmark of rational choice. Since standard cognitive therapists sometimes ask us to choose sets of beliefs that interpret evidence on the basis of greater individual happiness (all other things being equal), this suggests that the basis of choice goes beyond rationality. I contend that the case against the rationality of cognitive therapy is not made if one allows a broadening of what to count as rational cognitive therapy. The rationality of therapy consists in how well it achieves its goal. My claim is that at least one goal is, or ought to be, greater information value of the client’ dialogues. Among other things, information values encode affect. Understanding reason in this way effectively transforms our understanding of rationality in a way that may be incommensurable with the standard view. If these radically divergent approaches to cognitive therapy are incommensurable, there is no way to discover that we are still talking about the same thing. So, a challenge for this competing view is to say on what basis the term cognitive therapy may be projectable. I identify some constraints on this project and sketch a possible solution.
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Archival date: 2011-06-13
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