ALL the objects of human reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds, to wit, Relations of Ideas, and Matters of Fact. Of the first kind are the sciences of Geometry, Algebra, and Arithmetic; and in short, every affirmation which is either intuitively or demonstratively certain. David Hume: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, SECTION IV Part I

Hyper-Rationality
a standard of rationality for

 Hyper-Rationalism is rooted in Hume's distinction between Relations of Ideas and Matters of Fact of which a modern descendent is that between analytic and synthetic propositions. To understand Hyper-Rationalism you must:
Recognise the Distinction
Get a grip on the fundamental triple dichotomy:
Appreciate its Relevance
The distinction limits the scope of demonstrative reasoning to the establishment of analytic truths. These truths can be established with greater reliability than others. They can be formally demonstrated and mechanically checked with the help of formal systems.
Understand its Exploitation
Networked computing power can be reliably applied to rational processes provided that formal rather than natural languages are used. By this means computers may begin to contribute intellectually to the development of human society.

What is Hyper-Rationality?
Hyper-rationality adds to the analytic/synthetic distinction a modern appreciation of just how hard it is to use deductive reasoning in a coherent way. Since Russell's discovery of the inconsistency of Frege's logical foundations there have been many other demonstrations of how easy it is for experts to put together formal logical systems which turn out to be inconsistent.

Despite the difficulties, it is reasonable to say that we do now know how to do it. Hyper-rationalism is essentially the refusal to countenance deductive reasoning in any context which does not meet modern standards for ensuring logical consistency.

Though the basic principles are now well understood, this cannot in practice be done without machine support much better than is currently available. This is one of the reasons why hyper-rationality is put forward as a standard for the globally networked computers of the future, rather than for us people in the present.

Once you start worrying seriously about consistency, the best framework for deductive reasoning is a foundation system. This is because a foundation system is designed to take all the risks about consistency off your hands.

A foundation system incorporates sufficient ontological premises that the development of elaborate theories (such as are required in mathematics) can be undertaken using only extensions to the logical system which are known to be conservative, and hence not to compromise consistency (in Frege's day the talk was of definitions, but conservative extension is a more general approach).

Hyper-rationality involves the view that no claim which has not been proven in the context of a logical foundation system (and which is therefore known with a high degree of confidence to be analytic and necessary) can be asserted without risk of incoherence, and therefore, hyper-rational agents refuse to assert any other statements. They are nevertheless able to make affirmations which have the highest relevance to science, engineering and commerce. For example, a hyper-rational agent will happily support the construction of a complete formal model of any coherent TOE together with a definition of suitable initial conditions for the universe and then to affirm demonstratively a claim about what the Universe will do if it starts in the initial state and conforms to the TOE. With suitable methods, formal analytic truths such as can be hyper-rationally asserted, suffice for a large tranche of mathematics science and engineering.

© created 1996/11/3 modified 2009/11/1