Rationalist is one of the political personality dimensions examined in the political personality quiz.
The opposite of rationalist is idealist.

Many arguments in politics are appeal to the head, others to the heart, but usually it is difficult to appeal to both at once. Which do you find more convincing? More specifically, the difference between idealism and rationalism is one of “how do we know what is right” -it blends epistemology (how do we know?) and ethics (what is right?). On some issues our “heads” are on one side, and the “hearts” are on the other. Those who govern from the “heart” tend to make decisions on a case by case, what is right/popular/good, where those who govern from the head tend to create “rules” to handle cases objectively. Those who govern from the head risk becoming “technocrats” or become like economists who “know the price of everything and the value of nothing.” Those who govern from the heart risk being “biased” or get caught in a situation where they are trying to be “all things to all people” Is politics more about personalities and emotions, or models and statistics? Are the answers black and white or is everything shades of grey? Do hot button issues get you going, or leave you cold? Are rights sacred, or just rhetoric?


Rationalists favor:

  • working from a set of hard rules.
  • making decisions based on statistics.
  • disreguarding "feelings" as being merely subjective.
  • seeking long term "efficiency" over short term "fairness"
  • avoiding the absolute.

Rationalists oppose:

  • making decisions on a case by case basis which can lead to bias favoristism.
  • being bound by scriptures, loosely defined rights, or old conventions.
  • single issue politics
  • fundamentalism

Relevant issues

globalization, rent control, inequality, poverty, animal welfare.

Statements used in the PPQ

  • It is reasonable that rich densely populated countries should pay for their toxic waste to be buried in poor less densely populated countries.
  • downsizing may hurt employees at the time but it is good for society in the long run.
  • corporations are amoral by nature.
  • fashion is a waste of money.
  • crime and educations statistics should be published whether they are politically correct or not.
  • Giving rights to someone means taking them away from someone else.
  • Whether we realize it or not, all behavior can be traced back to logical choices