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Information für die Wissenschaft Nr. 58 | 24. Oktober 2013
Priority Programme “New Frameworks of Rationality” (SPP 1516)

The Senate of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) has established the Priority Programme “New Frameworks of Rationality” (SPP 1516). The programme started in October 2011 and is designed to run for six years. Applications are now invited for the second three-year period of the Priority Programme.

The Priority Programme 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, when it has occurred, it has rarely led to new collaborative insights.

The goal of the SPP is to overcome this lack of collaboration between psychologists, philosophers and other disciplines (such as Artificial Intelligence) with the aim of making progress toward a new theoretical framework of human rationality that also accommodates what we have learnt in recent decades about human cognition and conceptions of 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 related questions by bridging the gaps between normative and descriptive theories of rationality. The overarching goal is to build a bridge between different theoretical frameworks and the empirical findings, and take advantage of such integrations in order to inform the development of new normative theories of rationality. The vision 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!

The deadline for proposals for the Priority Programme „New Frameworks of Rationality” (SPP 1516) is prolonged until 5 March 2014.However, if you plan to submit a proposal, please email a one-page abstract describing the main idea of the project to the coordinator not later than by 1 January 2014. All abstracts will be made available online on the SPP’s website: www.spp1516.de. When submitting your proposal please acquaint yourself with the abstracts and indicate how your project may be related to other prospective projects.

Proposals must be submitted in English via the DFG’s electronic submission system elan. Please select the appropriate call “SPP – 1516 New Frameworks of Rationality” when submitting your proposal. If your project has already been funded in the first phase of SPP 1516, you will be able to submit a renewal proposal via elan, provided there is no change of the topic and/or the applicant(s). When you are using the elan system for the first time, please note that you first need to register at the elan portal. Confirmation of your registration will usually take up to one working day. Please make sure that all applicants of your project (in case there is more than one) start their registration well before the submission deadline. Proposal submission will only be possible after the registration of all applicants has been completed. Please email a copy of your proposal to the coordinator of the Priority Programme.

It is anticipated that funding of individual projects will begin in September/October 2014.

Further information

For further information on the Priority Programme please refer to:

The DFG’s electronic proposal processing system elan with proposal instructions and guidelines can be found at:

Proposal guidelines and preparation instructions are outlined in the DFG forms 50.01en, 50.05en and 54.01en which can be found on the DFG’s website at:

Scientific questions should be directed to the Priority Programme’s coordinator:

  • Professor Dr. Markus Knauff,
    Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen,
    Allgemeine Psychologie und Kognitionsforschung,
    Otto-Behaghel-Straße 10F,
    35394 Gießen,
    Tel. +49 641 99-26180,
    markus.knauff@psychol.uni-giessen.de
    Sek. +49 641 99-26181,
    Fax +49 641 99-26189

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

Please note:

The deadline for proposals for the Priority Programme „New Frameworks of Rationality” (SPP 1516) is prolonged until 5 March 2014 (updated on 24.02.2014).

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