The Limits of Scientific Reasoning
by David Faust
foreword by Paul E. Meehl
University of Minnesota Press, 1984
Paper: 978-0-8166-1359-5
Library of Congress Classification Q175.F269 1984
Dewey Decimal Classification 501


The Limits of Scientific Reasoning was first published in 1984. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.

The study of human judgment and its limitations is essential to an understanding of the processes involved in the acquisition of scientific knowledge. With that end in mind, David Faust has made the first comprehensive attempt to apply recent research on human judgment to the practice of science. Drawing upon the findings of cognitive psychology, Faust maintains that human judgment is far more limited than we have tended to believe and that all individuals - scientists included—have a surprisingly restricted capacity to interpret complex information. Faust's thesis implies that scientists do not perform reasoning tasks, such as theory evaluation, as well as we assume they do, and that there are many judgments the scientist is expected to perform but cannot because of restrictions in cognitive capacity.

"This is a very well-written, timely, and important book. It documents and clarifies, in a very scholarly fashion, what sociologists and psychologists of science have been flirting with for several decades—namely, inherent limitations of scientific judgment," –Michael Mahoney, Pennsylvania State University

David Faust is director of psychology at Rhode Island Hospital and a faculty member of the Brown University Medical School. He is co-author of Teaching Moral Reasoning: Theory and Practice.

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