Date of Award

Spring 2014




Tom Cook

Committee Member

Eric Smaw

Committee Member

Mario D'Amato


This thesis examines findings from modern psychological research in order to question classical notions of Human rationality. In the context of David Hume's ideas of Human Custom and Habit, it argues that we indeed do not use formal reasoning when inferring causal connection from events occurring in conjunction. Instead of formal logic, the brain uses many shortcuts and non-rational processes to problem solve. These should not be seen as disadvantageous, but ecologically rational. We should not measure man by how far he falls from standards of classical rationality, but in terms of how ecologically rational he is. Taking these non-conscious operations of the human mind, an argument can be made with the help of evolutionary theory to answer part of Hume's skepticism about causality.