M-FIL/05 - 6 CFU - 1° Semester

Teaching Staff

Email: mazzonem@unict.it
Office: Ex Monastero Benedettini, Piazza Dante 32, studio 133
Phone: 095 7102256
Office Hours: SarĂ  fissato appena possibile in modo coerente con le lezioni.

Learning Objectives

The course aims to introduce the main theories of reasoning, decision making and rationality, with special regard to the psychological mechanisms involved. Large space will be devoted to the role played by automatisms, emotions, and social influences as sources of (ir)rationality. More specifically, we will analyze the mechanisms by which moral, social and ideological identities are constructed, looking into their cognitive bases on the one hand, and, on the other, the way in which those mechanisms deeply affect belief formation and reasoning, by constraining the range of possible options.

The main goal of this analysis is to foster critical thinking, conceived as a rational attitude which includes motivational components and cognitive strategies, and as a complex capacity to distinguish reality from the models through which we understand it, to explore different models of interpretation, and to adopt a pluralistic approach to models. One important practical application we intend to consider is the capacity to build groups, to work in group, to discuss and plan cooperatively, in spite of the difficulties due to the mechanisms of identity construction and defense.

Course Structure

Frontal lessons and discussion in class.

Detailed Course Content

Rationality: the standard view; the empirical studies; bounded rationality; the evolutionary theories; dual models; rationality and argumentation.

Theories of critical thinking: normative approaches; approaches based on executive functions; ecological-adaptive approaches. Cognitive irrationality. The role of emotions in reasoning: meta-cognitive components of cognitive judgments; motivated reasoning. What is special of ideological reasoning: the ideological stage (Erikson); tribal moralism (Haidt); irrational empathy (Bloom). Rationality as cognitive strategy and motivational attitude: as mindware and mindset.

Automatic and social factors in decision making: the evolutionary bases of morality; affiliation mechanisms and group instincts; motivated reasoning; ideology and belief polarization.

Textbook Information

1) P. Labinaz, La razionalità, Roma, Carocci, 2013 (127 pagg.).

2) M. Mazzone, Pensiero critico e pensiero ideologico, 2020, draft (250 pagg.).

3) J. Haidt, Menti tribali. Perché le brave persone si dividono su politica e religione, Torino, Codice, 2013 (420 pagg.).


The draft will be provided on Studium.


Please remember that in compliance with art 171 L22.04.1941, n. 633 and its amendments, it is illegal to copy entire books or journals, only 15% of their content can be copied.

For further information on sanctions and regulations concerning photocopying please refer to the regulations on copyright (Linee Guida sulla Gestione dei Diritti d’Autore) provided by AIDRO - Associazione Italiana per i Diritti di Riproduzione delle opere dell’ingegno (the Italian Association on Copyright).

All the books listed in the programs can be consulted in the Library.

Open in PDF format Versione in italiano