A Social Picture
Oxford University Press 2012
According to a view familiar to philosophers, reasoning is a process that occurs within an individual mind and is aimed specifically at demonstrating on the basis of statement that we accept the correctness of some other statement. We reason, that is, in order to figure out what to believe or decide what to think. Reasoning in this sense has as its objective its own termination–we reason in order to reach a conclusion; and once a conclusion is reached, reasoning is no longer needed.
In his new book, Reasoning: A Social Picture (Oxford University Press, 2012), Professor Anthony Simon Laden challenges this common view. He contends that the standard picture of reasoning is insufficiently attentive to the respects in which reasoning is an activity we engage in together and not only for the purpose of demonstrating the correctness of statements, but in order to structure, shape, change, and construct relations with others. On the “social picture” of reasoning that Laden develops, reasoning is a matter of issuing invitations to others to share an evolving and public space of reasons. In developing this new picture, Laden proposes fully social conceptions of the norms and purposes of reasoning. What emerges is a deeply compelling picture of the richness of rational human interaction.