Can Bayesian Models of Cognition Show That We Are (Epistemically) Rational?

Arnon Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


According to [Bayesian] models in cognitive neuroscience, says a recent textbook, the human mind behaves like a capable data scientist. Do they? That is, do such models show we are rational? I argue that Bayesian models of cognition, perhaps surprisingly, don't and indeed can't show that we are Bayes-rational. The key reason is that they appeal to approximations, a fact that carries significant implications. After outlining the argument, I critique two responses, seen in recent cognitive neuroscience. One says that the mind can be seen as approximately Bayes-rational, while the other reconceives norms of rationality.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)1069-1078
Number of pages10
JournalPhilosophy of Science
Issue number5
StatePublished - 17 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Philosophy of Science Association.


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