Do Bayesian Models of Cognition Show That We Are (Bayes) Rational?

Philosophy of Science:1-13 (forthcoming)
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According to [Bayesian] models” in cognitive neuroscience, says a recent textbook, “the human mind behaves like a capable data scientist”. Do they? That is to say, do such model show we are rational? I argue that Bayesian models of cognition, perhaps surprisingly, do not and indeed cannot, show that we are Bayesian-rational. The key reason is that such models appeal to approximations, a fact that carries significant implications. After outlining the argument, I critique two responses, seen in recent cognitive neuroscience. One says that the mind can be seen as approximately Bayes-rational, while the other reconceives norms of rationality.

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Arnon Levy
Hebrew University of Jerusalem


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