Reasoning: Representation and Process in Children and Adults

Reasoning: Representation and Process in Children and Adults

Reasoning: Representation and Process in Children and Adults

Reasoning: Representation and Process in Children and Adults

Excerpt

There are two traditions in the study of logical reasoning. One is the Piagetian tradition; the other is the study of propositional reasoning. This formulation clearly overlooks some of the issues and qualifications mentioned below, but serves its purpose of delineating two culturally distinct lines of research. It is the aim of this introduction to examine some of the divergences in focus and approach between these two traditions, to explore the question of their mutual relevance, and to indicate in preview form some issues faced by both, that will be apparent in the chapters to follow and discussed in more detail in the final overview.

The "propositional" tradition, which focuses on how people reason about verbally stated, self-contained problems such as syllogisms, has a much longer history that goes back to antiquity and has perpetuated itself through the rationalist stream of thought from Aristotle to Boole to contemporary psychological approaches. Interesting discussions of the expectations that were once attached to logic as a model of human thought, and the development, decline, or refinement of those expectations, can be found in the next four chapters in this volume.

Since its impoundment by psychology (and, evidently, before then) the "propositional" tradition has mostly focused on adult reasoning. This, in my opinion, stems from an unsupported prejudice. Historically, it is due to the fact that the recent explosion in developmental research has coincided with the sudden recognition on this side of the Atlantic of Piaget's theory, its enormous scope and its unifying integrative quality as a general . . .

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