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Author Topic: Rational Judgment and Decision-Making  (Read 64670 times)

B. Tillman Russell

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Rational Judgment and Decision-Making
« on: October 14, 2012, 01:29:45 PM »
Lonergan wrote the following expressing the difference between decision and judgment: “both decision and judgment are concerned with actuality; but judgment is concerned to complete one’s knowledge of an actuality that already exists; while decision is concerned to confer actuality upon a course of action that otherwise will not exist. Finally, both decision and judgment are rational, for both deal with objects apprehended by insight, and both occur because of reflective grasp of reasons. However, there is a radical difference between the rationality of judgment and the rationality of decision. Judgment is an act of rational consciousness, but decision is an act of rational self-consciousness. The rationality of judgment emerges in the unfolding of the detached and disinterested desire to know in the process towards knowledge of the universe of being. But the rationality of decision emerges in the demand of the rationally conscious subject for consistency between his knowing and deciding and doing.”(p. 613).

Questions:

1) On what grounds can we make a distinction between knowing and doing? Is not every act of judgment a sort of doing? In other words, can one make any judgment without changing the "world" in some way?

2) Why do human beings have a demand for consistency between knowing and deciding? What exactly does "consistency" mean here?

-Tillman

Richard Moodey

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Re: Rational Judgment and Decision-Making
« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2012, 11:10:53 AM »

Tillman,
You ask:
1) On what grounds can we make a distinction between knowing and doing? Is not every act of judgment a sort of doing? In other words, can one make any judgment without changing the "world" in some way?
I find myself making that distinction all the time.  I know that I need to get more exercise.  Yesterday, I had the time to go to the gym, thought about it, but did not go.  There was a time, before having a very sore back for about a month, when I was regularly going to the gym to work out.  The back problem has gone away; I haven't changed my judgment that I will be healthier and feel better if I reactivate that habit.  The grounds for distinguishing between knowing and doing are experiential -- I know the difference between thinking that I ought to work out, imagining myself working out, and and actually doing the exercises.

2) Why do human beings have a demand for consistency between knowing and deciding? What exactly does "consistency" mean here?
I know what I mean by "consistency" here, but others might means something different.  I mean performative consistency.  There is a lack of performative consistency between my judgment about the value of working out and my failure to decide to go to the gym.  This isn't a sin, but has a structural similarity to my failure to decide to perform an action I judge to be morally right.

On the passage from "Insight" you have quoted, I have been struggling with this for some time.  In a very general sense, I like the contrast Lonergan makes between judgment and decision, but I think that the line between them is much more fuzzy than he suggests.  When discussing the contrast between belief and knowledge, he points out that a person decides to believe based upon judgments about the knowledge and truthfulness of the person whose testimony he has read or heard.  He also says that we cannot separate the residues of our acts of judging and acts of believing.  So the context of every judgment consists of of a background that includes the residues of both decisions and judgments.  This is where, for me, the line becomes fuzzy.

Dick
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

mounce.d

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Re: Rational Judgment and Decision-Making
« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2012, 11:22:57 AM »
Interesting questions!  While everyone agrees with the general precepts,
I think there is a division when it comes to the transcendental level that
Lonergan later proposed with MiT, but a prelude might be found later with
Insight in regard to will, willing and willingness.

We have an ethic from appetite, order and value (which are themselves
categorical reflections of potency, form and act.)  Lonergan only
describes "will" as efficient proof in this context, but "free" will is
briefly explained in that no one can demonstrate the future, or otherwise
explain the higher from the lower.

It is the notice of will that leads to Lonergan's unique implication that an
imperative structure should not be avoided, and this clearly places the
fourth level in his thought with Insight prior to MiT.

Lonergan reasonably assumes that the willful concern is personal, the
sorge.  He notices that we more easily know the "ought not" command, and
this implies the fourth level of rational self consciousness with
imperative structure; the imperative is explicit in the structuring of
rational self consciousness. Still, choice determines the person.

"To claim the sole reasonable course of action is realized necessarily is
to claim that willing is necessarily consistent with knowing. But that
claim is preposterous, for it contradicts the common experience of a
divergence between what one does and what one knows one ought to do."
(Insight, p. 619)

The categories of will and willingness categorically match experience and
intelligence and are, again, categorically reflected in appetite and
order.  Lonergan has a sense of perfect individual willingness reflecting
a universal rational order.  The universe is perfect, individuals are
rational, and willingness is ordered.

Indeed, the categories of essential and effective freedom used to describe
active willing are like the two types of knowing that underlie dynamic
knowing.

"Man <sic> is free essentially inasmuch as possible courses of action are
grasped by practical insight, motivated by reflection, and executed by
decision" (Insight, p. 619).

People effectively are free to a greater or a lesser extent, "inasmuch as
this dynamic structure is open to grasping, motivating and executing a
broad or a narrow range of otherwise possible courses of action" (Insight,
p. 620).

I think this chapter is useful for understanding how Lonergan was thinking
about the "good" or value in a dynamic structure before writing MiT.  The
cursory treatment of will implies less of a shift with later work than a
later development, and we shouldn't avoid how levels and categories that
represent structured notions of unrestricted being are not themselves
structures of being that demand names from categorical creatures.


Richard Moodey

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Re: Rational Judgment and Decision-Making
« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2012, 09:48:09 PM »
Mounce,

In 2002, Vincent Colapietro criticized a paper I had written, in which I said that Lonergan treated judging as an act of intellect and deciding as an act of will.  He pointed out to me that Lonergan had abandoned the distinction between intellect and will in 1968.  I was embarrassed to have learned this so late in my career.

Lonergan spent many years “reaching up” to the mind of Aquinas, and in “Insight” he was still using the language of faculty psychology.  By attributing acts of understanding and judging to “intellect” and acts of deciding and choosing to “will,” he was dwelling in the Thomistic tradition that had nourished him.  But he was also reporting on the results of his efforts to effect “a personal appropriation of the concrete, dynamic structure immanent and recurrently operative in his own cognitional activities” (IN xvii).  I believe that he abandoned faculty psychology, and the language of faculty psychology, as a result of his continuing efforts at self-appropriation.  In this respect, he broke out of the tradition within which his thinking had been formed.

In “The Subject” (1968, pp. 19-20), Lonergan said that the notion of the “existential subject,” who both knows and acts, and makes himself by his own knowing and doing was “overlooked on the schematism of older categories that distinguished faculties, such as intellect and will, or different uses of the same faculty, such as speculative and practical intellect, or different types of human activity, such as theoretical inquiry and practical execution. None of these distinctions adverts to the subject as such and, while the reflexive, self-constitutive element in moral living has been known from ancient times, still it was not coupled with the notion of the subject to draw attention to him in his key role of making himself what he is to be.” 

He elaborated on his rejection of faculty psychology in “Method in Theology,” and related this rejection to authenticity, 
“Because its account of interiority was basically metaphysical, the older theology distinguished sensitive and intellectual, apprehensive and appetitive potencies.  There followed complex questions on their mutual interactions.  There were disputes about the priority of intellect over will or of will over intellect, of speculative over practical intellect or of practical over speculative.  In contrast, we describe interiority in terms of intentional and conscious acts on the levels of experiencing, understanding, judging, and deciding” (MT 120).

The level of deciding is “the level of freedom and responsibility,” and it is by responsible deciding that a person becomes more authentic.  Authenticity and unauthenticity appear at all four levels.  A person must decide to be “attentive or inattentive” in experiencing, “intelligent or unintelligent” in inquiring, and “reasonable or unreasonable” in judging: "Therewith vanish two notions: the notion of pure intellect or pure reason that operates on its own without guidance or control from responsible decision; and the notion of will as an arbitrary power indifferently choosing between good and evil” (p. 121).

Lonergan said that authenticity emerges slowly.  Reaching the “age of reason” at around six or seven is “only the beginning of human authenticity.”  A person continues to take more personal responsibility for his own life as he goes through adolescence and young adulthood. “It is this highly complex business of authenticity and unauthenticity that has to replace the overly simple notion of will as arbitrary power.  Arbitrariness is just another name for unauthenticity.  To think of will as arbitrary power is to assume that authenticity never exists or occurs” (pp. 121-2).

I believe that self-appropriation and "conversions" are aspects of the slow process of moving toward a state of greater authenticity, and that Lonergan's abandonment of faculty psychology was, at least in part, a consequence of that slow process as it unfolded in his own life.
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

mounce.d

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Re: Rational Judgment and Decision-Making
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2012, 06:16:01 PM »
Thanks Richard, I understand the common idea that Insight is faculty psychology and MiT is intentionality analysis, but by Lonergan's own further explanation of intentional operations he can't have been writing insight by distinct faculties operating in an irreversible order.  Although I too have criticized much of Insight (emergent probability, for example), there remains his contribution of dynamic knowing with choice determining the person.  Later, in his own reflection, he said Insight basically was parallel to Carl Rogers' patient-centered therapy.  In combination, again, with the Halifax lectures we get that wonderful concluding statement on a notion of unrestricted being (although the tape recorder apparently failed at that point, and the subtlety of whether it is a structured notion was itself reconstructed.) 

In any case, thanks for writing!  Maybe we can speak later about the difference between historians and sociologists! 

mounce.d

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Re: Rational Judgment and Decision-Making
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2012, 06:24:29 PM »
Great questions Tillman!  Some say that any act of judging is a form of aggression, like when someone says, `that's what I like about you,' they are also implying that there are many things about you that are possible not-to-like, but the current topic under consideration is not one of them.  Other famous folks are often quoted when someone expresses a need for consistency when completeness is what is wanted.  With Lonergan, I think everyone will agree that the precepts are universal.  There will be disagreement about a transcendental level as L says that everyone uses the scientific method, and they outrageously disagree about what that means.

Richard Moodey

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Re: Rational Judgment and Decision-Making
« Reply #6 on: October 20, 2012, 04:31:40 PM »
Mounce,
In client centered therapy (or student centered education), Rogers sought to help clients, or students, know and accept their valuing process, rather than their "values," as objectified products of that process.  I see this as being very similar to Lonergan's attempt to help his readers appropriate the dynamic structure of their own knowing and doing.
Dick
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

B. Tillman Russell

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Re: Rational Judgment and Decision-Making
« Reply #7 on: October 20, 2012, 10:20:32 PM »
Dick and Mounce, thank you both for the response, and again I apologize for my late responses!

Dick states the following

"When discussing the contrast between belief and knowledge, he points out that a person decides to believe based upon judgments about the knowledge and truthfulness of the person whose testimony he has read or heard.  He also says that we cannot separate the residues of our acts of judging and acts of believing.  So the context of every judgment consists of of a background that includes the residues of both decisions and judgments.  This is where, for me, the line becomes fuzzy."

This really helps clarify what I mean by asking the first question. There is no doubt a sharp distinction experentially between making a judgment and acting on that judgment, as your gym analogy aptly illustrates. I wonder, however, whether making this distinction too sharply might lead us to overlook, and take for granted, the delicate way that judgments construct a context within which new judgments are evaluated. In this sense, all judgments "perform", in that they add links to the complex network of prior judgments. Of course, not judging requires judgment also and so it also is a kind of performance, while not effecting the "external" world, does in fact affect reality insofar as consciousness and its network of judgment- contexts is an intelligible unit of reality.

Mounce.d

Thanks for the passages from Insight. I think they really help get at this question. I want to pick up on one part of your post and run with it.

You state the following:

"Lonergan has a sense of perfect individual willingness reflecting
a universal rational order.  The universe is perfect, individuals are
rational, and willingness is ordered."

Based on what you have stated here, would inconsistency between knowing and doing be the tension between grasping the true, the good, and the beautiful, in other words, grasping a universal rational order, and not bringing one's performance, as Dick mentioned, into correspondence with this judgment? So, on this account, the rationality of action is its correspondence or attunement, one might say, with rational judgment.  If this is the case, then for example, judging that not cheating, lying, or stealing are goods for the soul and for the community while not acting in correspondence with these judgments introduces a inconsistency between the rationality of an universal order judged and one's subsequent action reflecting this judgment

Also, fantastic discussion about faculty psychology and intentionality analysis...I am going to have to respond to them in another post.

-Tillman

« Last Edit: October 20, 2012, 10:50:40 PM by B. Tillman Russell »

Richard Moodey

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Re: Rational Judgment and Decision-Making
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2012, 11:25:47 AM »
Mounce,
I would like very much to read your criticisms of emergent probability.  This probably deserves a new subject.
Dick
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac

mounce.d

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Re: Rational Judgment and Decision-Making
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2012, 06:11:48 PM »
Hi Tillman, I'm not sure about all that L might have-had-in-mind in discussing a rational order.  It does come-across in that chapter on will, willing and willingness, but the writing also feels a bit rushed and patterned on earlier trio's.  In any case, a perfect universe is easier for me to grasp than a rational order, given that mystery plays a large role.

Again, everyone agrees on the precepts, and people who study scientific method (i.e., methods that result in knowledgeable products) will agree that facts, or knowledge, can be returned to the level of data or evidence to combine with further observation and notice in testing meaning and ideas.  What I like to say is that we know how to make knowledge, and we don't know how to be wise!

Richard Moodey

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Re: Rational Judgment and Decision-Making
« Reply #10 on: November 22, 2012, 07:41:22 AM »
Hi Tillman,

I wrote: "So the context of every judgment consists of of a background that includes the residues of both decisions and judgments.  This is where, for me, the line becomes fuzzy."

In your comment on this, you wrote: "I wonder, however, whether making this distinction too sharply might lead us to overlook, and take for granted, the delicate way that judgments construct a context within which new judgments are evaluated. In this sense, all judgments "perform", in that they add links to the complex network of prior judgments."

ISTM that you use "judgment" in two senses here: (1) the act of judging, (2) the network of prior judgments."  Some writers use "judgment" to refer to the ability to judge well.  Since we attribute diverse meanings to "judgment," I don't think the noun form holds up very well as a good term in cognitional theory.  I use "judge" and "judging" to refer to the act, and use "acquired disposition" or "learned disposition" to refer to the internal products or residues of judging.  So instead of speaking of a "network or prior judgments," I speak of a "network of acquired dispositions." 

But all experiences, passive as well as active, are learning experiences.  So the network of dispositions that serves as the context for my present active and passive experiences consists of residues of acts of deciding as well as of acts of judging. 

Best regards,
Dick   
“Think, live, be: next try to express scrupulously what you are thinking, what you are living, what you are.”
Henri de Lubac