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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 29 | 30. Juni 2010
Priority Programme 1516 “New Frameworks of Rationality”

Call for Proposals

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has newly established the Priority Programme (SPP) “New Frameworks of Rationality”. The programme is designed to run for six years and seeks to provide an interdisciplinary framework for research on human rationality. The main reason for the establishment of the SPP is that the present divide-and-conquer approach between psychology and philosophy has prevented both disciplines from taking into account one another’s progress. Philosophy’s mission has been to develop normative theories of what it means to be rational, and to put forth general principles, theories, and axioms defining rationality. In contrast, psychology’s mission has been to empirically investigate to what extent people’s cognition and behaviour conforms to those norms of rationality, and if deviations occur, explain why they occur. Despite or, perhaps, precisely because of psychologists’ and philosophers’ acceptance of such a division of labour, the discourse between both disciplines has been poor, or, where has occurred, it has become quite unproductive. The goal of the new SPP is to overcome this long lasting lack of collaboration between psychologists, philosophers and other disciplines (such as Artificial Intelligence) in order to develop a new theoretical framework of human rationality. As a consequence, the SPP will seek to answer new questions that go beyond the limitations of 20th century research on rationality. To reach this goal, project proposals should be related to at least one of the following research questions: 

  • How useful are new logic-based theories such as inductive logics, non-monotonic logics, multi-value-logics, default logics, deontic logics, etc., for modelling human thinking?

  • How helpful are different versions of probabilistic theories for modelling human theoretical and practical reasoning?

  • What kind of ecologically rational heuristics do people use in everyday reasoning and decision making?

  • What are adequate specifications of the cognitive problems facing people in psychological reasoning experiments?

  • Which relations hold between logic-based, probabilistic, and heuristic theories of reasoning?

  • How can these approaches be combined in a unified theory of rationality, and should they even be combined?

  • How do general-purpose logical and probabilistic reasoning mechanisms interact with domain-specific ecologically rational heuristics?

  • What are the limits of logic-based, probabilistic, and heuristic theories of rationality?

  • What is rational? (instead of “Are we rational”)?

  • How can we model “irrational behaviour” within more advanced theories of rationality?

Project proposals shall seek to answer these and other questions by bridging the gaps between normative and descriptive theories of rationality. Their goal should be to promote the use of new logic-based theories in the psychology of human thinking and to explore the usefulness of different versions of probabilistic theories for modelling theoretical and practical reasoning. An important research topic in this context will be the interrelation between logic-based, probabilistic, and heuristic theories within a new theory of human thinking. This account should form a bridge between different theoretical frameworks and the empirical findings, and should have the potential to feed back into the development of new normative theories of rationality. The ultimate goal of the SPP is to show that the psychology and philosophy of rationality are not distinct research areas. They share the same goal – the understanding of human rationality! 

Proposals for an initial three-year funding period should be submitted on paper (3 copies) and on CD-ROM (including the proposal and all appendices as pdf-files) not later than 3 January 2011. All proposals must be written in English and must be prepared according to the guidelines for individual research grants (1.02e). Submissions, marked as “SPP 1516 New Frameworks of Rationality”, should be addressed to Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, Kennedyallee 40, 53175 Bonn. 

Preparatory Workshop

A preparatory workshop will be held at the University of Potsdam on the 7 and 8 October 2010 (right after the 10th Biannual Conference of the German Society for Cognitive Science, “KogWis 2010”). If you plan to submit a project proposal within the SPP, you are invited to participate in the workshop. More information on the workshop and registration can be found under the SPP’s website. Here you can also find the full text of the SPP-proposal, which provides more detailed information on the goals of the programme and the requirements for potential projects.

Further Information

Detailed information on the SPP and the workshop can be found at:

Please refer to the guidelines for individual research proposals under:

Scientific questions concerning the SPP should be directed to the Coordinator:

  • Professor Dr. Markus Knauff, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, Allgemeine Psychologie und Kognitionsforschung, Fachbereich 06 – Psychologie und Sportwissenschaft, Otto-Behaghel-Straße 10F, 35394 Gießen, Tel. +49 641 99-26180, markus.knauff@psychol.uni-giessen.de 

Questions regarding the DFG application procedure etc. should be directed to:

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