Uncertainty and the suppression of inferences

Thinking and Reasoning 11 (1):5 – 33 (2005)
The explanation of the suppression of Modus Ponens inferences within the framework of linguistic pragmatics and of plausible reasoning (i.e., deduction from uncertain premises) is defended. First, this approach is expounded, and then it is shown that the results of the first experiment of Byrne, Espino, and Santamar a (1999) support the uncertainty explanation but fail to support their counterexample explanation. Second, two experiments are presented. In the first one, aimed to refute one objection regarding the conclusions observed, the additional conditional premise ( if N, C ) was replaced with a statement of uncertainty ( it is not certain that N ); the answers produced by the participants remained qualitatively and quantitatively similar in both conditions. In the second experiment, a fine-grained analysis of the responses to and justifications for an evaluation task was performed. The results of both experiments strongly supported the uncertainty explanation.
Keywords psychology of reasoning - defeasible reasoning - deduction - linguistic pragmatics
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