Mental Logic

Mental Logic

Mental Logic

Mental Logic

Synopsis

This volume, which includes some previously published work and the most recent writings of the late Martin Braine and his colleagues, will be of interest to cognitive scientists, philosophers of mind and logicians, developmentalists, and psycholinguists.

Excerpt

There has long been a controversy about the relation of logic to the ordinary deductive reasoning of subjects untutored in logic. Twentieth century philosophy has generally held that logic has only a normative relation to reasoning (e.g., Cohen, 1944): Logic specifies the correct responses but says nothing about how they are achieved. From a psychological standpoint, however, it is often hard to explain correct responses if one cannot assume that the reasoner is following logical principles.

Within psychology, there have been three approaches to the issue of the relation of logic to reasoning. One approach has emphasized nonlogical processes and biases (e.g., Evans, 1972,1982), of which the best known example is the atmosphere theory of syllogistic reasoning (Woodworth & Sells, 1935). Historically, however, this approach has usually focused on explaining errors rather than correct responses. No comprehensive theory has ever been presented for any kind of deductive reasoning that purports to explain correct responses as well as errors in terms of entirely nonlogical processes and biases.

The second approach posits that subjects proceed by constructing a mental model of the information given and reason from the model. For instance, given the premises A is inside B and B is inside C, a subject imagines a state of affairs corresponding to the premises; the conclusion that A is inside C can then be read off from the image. According to . . .

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