Rationality

 

Jayne Docherty

Eastern Mennonite University

Interviewed by Julian Portilla, 2003


This rough transcript provides a text alternative to audio. We apologize for occasional errors and unintelligible sections (which are marked with ???).

Become very aware of different forms of rationality. That may answer the other question. You know we work in a society that tends to define rationality in only one way. People are rational when they are goal oriented, and they use instrumental rationality, I'm at point a and I want to get to point b and the most efficient, the most effective way to accomplish that end is this, and that is rational behavior. But in reality, that is only one form of rationality, Max Weber defined 3 other types of rationality besides that. There is affective rationality, where relationships are central and everything that flows out of your life is about sustaining those relationships. And that has its own logic if we use rationality to mean internal logic it makes for your behavior to make sense and this is your core, most deepest commitment, and that's relationships then you can predict people's behaviors in that sense, that's rational. Then there's value rationality, I have these core rationalities and everything will be done to sustain those. Even if it seems irrational, it's not. It's just different rational. 

The one is traditional rationality, we have always done it this way, this is the way the world is and this is the way we must do it. Everything follows logically. The truth of the matter is that every one of us uses those 4 forms of rationality in combination at different times in our lives and even in the same negotiation we may use smatterings of each kind of rationality. For example, the police negotiators may decide that the value commitment is to protect innocent lives, try to end this barricade without violence if at all possible, and then the instrumental of that is use a combination of pressure from the hostage rescue team or the SWAT team and talk to do that. Yes, carrots and sticks. But notice the value part; that rationality is there too. It's not one or the other. And people, like the Branch Davidians, that you think are always oriented towards their ultimate value. 

They actually demonstrate that they can be quite problem solving oriented. As long as it doesn't offend and disrupt their deepest value commitments. They can be rational and analytical but know that people operate with those 4 types of rationality so that when they flip away from instrumental rationality as in this case, you don't say, "Oh my god, they've gone crazy! They're no longer rational." Rather you say, "What form of rationality are they operating with now?" And that's a window into their minds.