Book Review

Mind & Society

, Volume 12, Issue 2, pp 263-271

First online:

Re-assessing the Heuristics debate

Mark G. Kelman: The Heuristics Debate, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2011
  • Andrea PolonioliAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh Email author 

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Abstract Mark Kelman’s recent book, The Heuristics Debate (HD), has two main goals. First, it seeks to reconstruct the controversy in decision science between Kahneman et al.’s heuristics-and-biases approach and Gigerenzer et al.’s fast-and-frugal heuristics approach. Second, it tries to discuss its implications for jurisprudence and policy-making. This study focuses on the first task only. The study attempts to show that, although HD has several important merits, its interpretation of the controversy misses some crucial aspects. Specifically, HD fails to appreciate that the debate is fundamentally about what a “rational” judgment is in the first place. Moreover, because of this, HD also fails to acknowledge the interplay between normative and methodological considerations. With regard to this aspect, HD’s treatment of the controversy fits into a long tradition. This study takes the opportunity to rectify the error.