The Nature of Rationality
by Robert Nozick
“Robert Nozick always attacks his problems in a disconcertingly original way. The questions he addresses are fundamental in the true philosophical sense: Why exactly should we want to act and believe rationally? Why should we formulate principles of action and try to stick to them? The questions are not moral but explicatory. He is not out to argue that unprincipled or irrational behavior is immoral; rather, he invites us to consider what we are trying to do, and what the justification for such behavior is.
To Nozick, rationality and belief are each an evolutionary adaptation to a world that changes in nonregular ways. Our acts resonate with symbolic meaning and ‘stand for’ our principles and beliefs. In this boldly original . . . inquiry which will reward serious students of philosophy, Nozick uses decision theory to propose new rules of rational decision-making that take into account the symbolic, practical, and evolutionary components of our behavior . . . . this challenging treatise champions reason as a faculty that enables us to transcend our mere animal status and to strive toward goals by the light of principles.”