What We Are Able.
- Originally my project was concerned with making people reconsider their opinions and ideas of the truth; I framed it as an attempt to realize J.S. Mill's plan for a more contemplative and deliberative society. He felt that people were too concerned with intellectual passivity and that society was over-confident in its current truths. One part of my thesis focused on an experiment I developed and ... read moreadministered which tested the effects of teaching students the theory of motivated reasoning. This theory predicts that, when interpreting new information, most people will do so in a biased manner. Most people are more concerned with maintaining their prior beliefs than with incorporating potentially useful but disparate evidence into their opinions. I believed teaching people the theory would make them less likely to interpret information biasedly. My results confirmed my hypothesis: those subjects who learned motivated reasoning were less likely to project their biases while asked to interpret a scholarly article. Though I was pleased with my results, I was more concerned with understanding motivated reasoning in the context of political theory. By studying Plato, J.S. Mill, and Friedrich Nietzsche I came to the conclusion that motivated reasoning supports the idea, best represented by Plato and Nietzsche, that it is impossible to ever reach truth through purely rational means. Instead, it is necessary to supplement reason with some extra-rational force such as desire.read less