A Justification of Rationality

By John Kekes

Subjects: Metaphysics
Paperback : 9781438450681, 275 pages, June 1976
Hardcover : 9780873953504, 275 pages, June 1976

Table of contents



Part 1. The Problem

1. The sceptical challenge to rationality


Humean scepticism

Rationality and justification

Psychological and epistemological scepticism

Scepticism: a summary

Part 2. Inconclusive Arguments Against Scepticism

2. The pragmatic argument: Carnap

The pragmatic answer to scepticism

Carnap's argument

Internal criticisms of Carnap's argument

Existential presuppositions and metaphysical theories

External criticisms of the pragmatic argument


3. The appeal to common sense: Moore

Common sense

The primacy of common sense

The rational justification of common sense

Summary and conclusion

4. The implications of ordinary language: the paradigm case argument


The first thesis

The second thesis

The third thesis


5. Science as a touchstone of rationality: Popper

Fallibilism and the sceptical challenge

Popper's critical rationalism

Criticism of critical rationalism: the metaphysical presuppositions of science


6. The illegitimacy of the sceptical challenge: Winch


A coherence theory of rationality

Two internal criticisms

External criticism


The state of the argument

Part 3. Rationality

7. The requirements of the theory of rationality

External and internal accounts of rationality

Explanation of preanalytic facts

Rationality and logic

Rationality and success in action

Rationality and criticism

Defense of presuppositions

The rationality of theories

Psychological, formal, and philosophical accounts of rationality

Conformity to standards of rationality

8. A theory of rationality: the external account



Problems of life and problems of reflection

Removable problems and enduring problems


9. A theory of rationality: the internal account


Logical consistency

Conceptual coherence

Explanatory power



10. The value of rationality

Why should a person accept a rational theory?

The justification of rationality

Reason and emotion

Rationality and practice

Rationality and politics


The state of the argument

Part 4. The Refutation of Scepticism

11. A refutation of solipsistic scepticism

Solipsism and scepticism

The strategy of the criticism

The refutation of solipsistic scepticism

An analogy

12. Metaphysics, rationality, and vision

Metaphysics and scepticism

Metaphysical vision

The rationality of metaphysical vision

13. Metaphysics, rationality, and presuppositions


Collingwood's account of metaphysics

The nature of presuppositions

Regulative presuppositions

Categorial presuppositions

Ontological presuppositions

The state of the argument





The aim of this book is to defend rationality against skepticism fideism, and irrationalism. Rationality is an ideal which represents the best in our civilization. The ideal, however, must be reaffirmed from time to time and this is done here by expressing it in a contemporary idiom and by defending it against new doubts. Professor Kekes justifies rationality most convincingly at the same time he demonstrates how important philosophy is for the preservation of the finest in Western tradition.