Mr. Spicer classifies as “rationalists” those who “emphasize a priori reasoning” as well as “positivists, utilitarians, pragmatists, and even idealists” (Spicer, 15). A failure to address these non-rational, social-psychological dimensions of conflict makes it difficult to account for why ordinary people engage in such destructive and violent acts. Most of the training literature for negotiation and mediation suggests that emotions should be ignored and that third party interveners should guide disputants toward rational behavior. I have a minor quibble with this artice: it refers to these biases as "flaws" in one's thinking--implying rationality is better and cognitive biases should be fixed. The rationalistic vision gained a significant amount of traction by purporting to advance the application of “scientific” knowledge to social and political problems. There are pre-rational intuitions of the world that color our concepts, and, given that we are always historically and geographically situated, we cannot help but see things through the lenses provided by those contingencies. The defining questions ofepistemology include the following. In the same way, Smith holds that economic systems are best left undisturbed by attempts to rationalize them by any single mind, or small group of minds. In the Conflict Frontiers Seminar, we have three different posts that explain this further. There simply need to be enough incentives to motivate them to consent to the proposed agreement. [1] The idea seems to be that if parties rely solely on logic, both sides can advance their interests and come to a mutually acceptable compromise in the event that those interests conflict. Indeed, the injury that people sometimes undergo so that they can cause harm to their "enemies" suggests that people caught in conflict often act for reasons which defy rational calculations of self-interest. The view that man is incapable of perfection and/or civil society is a Christian concept based on man’s fall and inherent sinful nature. Part of this entails the assumption of a so-called “fact-value distinction”—that is, the idea that science can be understood as bracketing value judgements, and dealing only in “facts.” Any social science worth the name, it was thought, would refuse to pontificate on moral questions, sticking only to the facts. The latter tends to view human nature as basically corrupted and divided against itself, always capable of both good and evil. The Beyond Intractability Knowledge Base Project Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess, Co-Directors and Editors  But they need not be permanent nor destructive. In Western philosophy, empiricism boasts a long and distinguished list of followers; it became particularly popular during the 1600's and 1700's. Join Us in calling for a dramatic expansion of efforts to limit the destructiveness of intractable conflict. If we move too far in that direction, social science could become an impossibility… In a society in which we expect businessmen, political parties, and single-issue groups to be self-interested, we need a social science based on trust. [12] Otomar Bartos and Paul Wehr, Using Conflict Theory. In addition, an over-emphasis on rationality will limit our understanding of conflict escalation. More... Get the NewsletterCheck Out Our Quick Start Guide. The elements that comprise civil society, that is, those mediating institutions that stand between the cold rationality of law and the isolated individual, then, are crucial for humanizing political communities. [11] When these conflicts continue for a long time, parties' goals tend to extend beyond advancing their concrete interests to include upholding their dignity and prestige. [16] This is because much of our knowledge about conflict is rooted in our emotions, worldviews, and cultural understandings. Instead, conflict transformation tends to come about through something that approximates an artistic process. THE EMPIRICISTS: Empiricists share the view that there is no such thing as innate knowledge, and that instead knowledge is derived from experience (either sensed via the five senses or reasoned via the brain or mind). He says that “by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of greatest value, [humans intend] their own gain… [but they end up being] led by an invisible hand to promote and end which was no part of their intention.”[v] Hence, for Smith, economic order, like political order for Burke, contains “latent wisdom,” and hidden reason. 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