My pen name is Virginia Vallee. This web site, SoundRationalThinking.com, is part of a research project on elemental rationality that, with help, I have been doing for many years. The goal of this study is to encourage people to upgrade their rational skills enough so as to promote civil discourse, improve negotiation quality and advance our abilities to achieve comity in all walks of life.
This project recognizes that there already exists substantial rational acuity in our society but, at the same time, points out there are pitfalls to avoid. Clearly, there is room for improvement. We have much to gain in every aspect of life by developing our rational abilities, individually and collectively.
For a long time I have been interested in the philosophical foundations of science and morality. This questioning mentality started while I was a youngster and is the main reason I obtained degrees in chemistry and biology. I was curious.
In college, while grabbling with the fundamentals of science, I took a course in "The Trivium" where I learned the connection between intensional syllogistic logic and modern scientific research. This fed my interest in the development of rational philosophy. After graduating in 1951, I married, and we began raising a family. To maintain my research skills and satisfy my curiosity, I embarked on an intensive study of the history of logic and rationality. This 'logic project' has been my passion ever since. In the process I read thousands of books on the subject, attended numerous classes and lectures, took part in book clubs and acquired reams of information.
One of the avenues of my research that proved unusually
fruitful was an in-depth study of the logical education of the Founders of the
In my research, I studied many of the same books the founders encountered in their education and imagined how they might have been affected in their particular settings. I concentrated particularly on logic publications or books with substantive logical content. These texts by different authors contained similar basic ideas of rational requirements.
Research on the logical education of the US Founders was rewarding. Patterns became clear and several theories with interesting possibilities came to my mind. One theory I have developed with a good deal of success is that there is a direct relation between the quality of rational theory learned in primary education and the ability later for the same people to reason together and solve problems constructively.
My research showed the US Founders to be a diverse group of people with widely different world views and opinions. The rational style of Colonial America allowed this assorted group to function productively. Not only did they learn the same basic requirements of right reason but the guidelines they adopted were remarkably sound. This web site is a part of my research in defending this theory.
In related research, I studied other thinking methods that run counter to affirmative rationality I found generally shared by the US Founders. These counter-view methods tended to produce societies where people were less able to reason together constructively in governmental matters.
Since I advocate that people make a personal commitment to affirmative rationality, this site concentrates on the affirmative rational point of view. I often refer to affirmative rationality as root affirmations and those operations that run counter to affirmative reason as root divergences or counter-view evaluations.
My plan is to begin by explaining affirmative rationality and suggest how to recognize the rudimentary requirements that must be met for rationality to be sound. This requires a discussion of rational requirements point by point and how to make adjustments where needed. When done well, this process is feasible and fun. However, many propositions are involved and they need to be addressed one by one. To do a credible job requires attention to detail. As basics become clear, we are in a position to better evaluate contrary mode operations. It is a give and take process where we learn from each other and examine results in practice. We can do this because we have natural commonsense abilities as helpmates.
The root affirmative method advocated herein is speculative with an eye on the credible. 'Credible speculation' refers to procedures in which principles are proposed for consideration, examined for results and explored for probable consequences. As principles are well substantiated, they become more and more reliable but not absolute.
Credible speculation recognizes that there are gaps between what is said, what is heard and what actually is. These are inherent difficulties in language. The root affirmative thinker presumes truth is firm and is to be discovered and not constructed by human genius. Credible speculation takes into account human limitations.
The definitions in this study are stipulated with care. Carefully stipulated definitions are terms defined specifically for a particular study so as to avoid the fallacy of equivocation. This does not mean the stipulator considers other definitions wrong. Stipulation simply means that the stipulator aims to restrict usage of certain terms to the definition specified in a controlled setting.
The root affirmative method also emphasizes propositional veracity and the importance of deductive validity.
Writing from a credible-speculative point of view aims to use carefully stipulated definitions, propositional veracity and deductive integrity is about as far from being dogmatic as one can get. This presentation is a discourse open to modification. It is not a manifesto to be promulgated.
Obviously credible speculation that aims to use stipulated definitions, propositional veracity and deductive integrity is not new. This is what affirmative rational philosophers have tried to do since antiquity. Because philosophers are limited humans, they fall short of their goal but the effort raises the quality of their product. Dedicated rational affirmative philosophers are willing to learn from their mistakes and make corrections. These are commonsense standards that usually go without saying.
In discussing the subject of 'rationality' the issues involved are serious. I hope you will find something here of use in your own search for ever increasing wisdom, justice and good will.
Updated Nov. 14, 2013,