The enduring enigma of reason

Catarina Dutilh Novaes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


In The Enigma of Reason, Mercier and Sperber (M&S) present and defend their interactionist account of reason. In this piece, I discuss briefly the points of agreement between M&S and myself and, more extensively, the points of disagreement, most of which pertain to details of the evolutionary components of their account. I discuss in particular the purported modular nature of reason; their account of myside bias as an optimum/adaptation; and the claim that reason thus construed must be an individual-level and not a group-level adaptation. In the final section, I offer brief considerations on an alternative account of reasoning, where the focus is on how sociocultural environments may tune the social production and evaluation of arguments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)513-524
Number of pages12
JournalMind and Language
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2018
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
Horizon 2020 Framework Programme771074


    • adaptationism
    • argumentation
    • evolutionary psychology
    • reason
    • social interaction


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