Where to now?

Brad C. Anderson

We have explored values, which show us what is worth doing, and rationality, which informs us how to achieve it. We next need to understand how to turn these ideas into action.

To create action, you must exercise power. The next chapter, therefore, explores the social structure of power.

In This Chapter, You Learned

What rationality is

  • Rationality
    •  Is used to measure and analyze our environment
    •  Is used to justify our actions
    • Is the basis for social interactions
    • Takes many forms

The different forms of rationality

  • Disembedded rationality refers to objective knowledge. It takes three forms:
    • Economic rationality
    • Technocratic rationality
    • Bureaucratic rationality
  • Embedded rationality recognizes that what is rational depends on the social context in which you operate. It takes three forms.
    • Institutional rationality
    • Contextual (cultural) rationality
    • Situational rationality
  • Embodied rationality is derived from the self. This form of rationality argues we experience reality through our bodies. We perceive reality with our senses and process this sensory input with our brain. Our knowledge of the world, therefore, is the product of this bodily experience. There are three forms of embodied rationality:
    • Body rationality
    • Emotional rationality
    • The ‘irrational’ subconscious
  • Collective rationality defines how groups act to understand the world and make decisions. It takes two forms:
    • Collective action
    • Collective reasoning

What practical reason is

  • Practical reason is the process of blending multiple rationalities to generate effective solutions to challenging problems. We gain a fuller picture of the world facing us through blending rationalities while deepening the arsenal of tools we can use to overcome challenges.

How to blend rationalities

  • To blend rationalities
    • Recognize rationality takes multiple forms
    • Each form has the power to understand certain aspects of the world and is blind to others.
    • Recognize our limits–no one is a master of every type of rationality.
    • Engage in collective reasoning
    • Move forward with a spirit of experimentation.

Why knowledge is required but insufficient for wise action

  • Our knowledge is often limited and flawed. Therefore, we always act in an environment of uncertainty and must be willing to learn along the way.
  • Often, what we think are conflicts between different forms of rationalities are, in fact, conflicts between different values.
  • People must first agree on what values should be pursued and then apply appropriate rationalities to determine how to achieve them.


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Where to now? Copyright © 2020 by Brad C. Anderson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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