Confirmation bias without rhyme or reason

Synthese 199 (1-2):2757-2772 (2020)
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Having a confirmation bias sometimes leads us to hold inaccurate beliefs. So, the puzzle goes: why do we have it? According to the influential argumentative theory of reasoning, confirmation bias emerges because the primary function of reason is not to form accurate beliefs, but to convince others that we’re right. A crucial prediction of the theory, then, is that confirmation bias should be found only in the reasoning domain. In this article, we argue that there is evidence that confirmation bias does exist outside the reasoning domain. This undermines the main evidential basis for the argumentative theory of reasoning. In presenting the relevant evidence, we explore why having such confirmation bias may not be maladaptive.

Author Profiles

Megan Peters
University of California, Irvine
Matthias Michel
New York University


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