Educational Psychology, Department of


Date of this Version

May 1994


Published in Theory & Psychology 4:2 (May 1994), pp. 245-260. DOI: 10.1177/0959354394042005 Copyright © 1994 SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


The concept of rationality has its roots in a historic philosophical conception of human beings as creatures of reason. To act on the basis of reason is to act on the basis of reasons, which in turn implies a process of reasoning. An objectivist conception of rationality sees its essence as lying in the use of reasoning processes that conform to appropriate logical norms. A subjectivist conception of rationality sees its essence in the subjective appeal to reasons. It is argued that neither approach alone is adequate. Rationality is best viewed as metasubjective objectivity. That is, the standards that embody rationality’s objective component are not externally imposed rules that circumvent subjectivity. Rather, they are internally constructed via active reflection on one’s subjectivity. Psychological evidence on the development of metasubjectivity is interpreted as consistent with the present approach. Implications for theory and research, and for educational and psychotherapeutic practice, are discussed.