Cognitive Science 37 (1):193-209 (2013)

The psychology of reasoning is increasingly considering agents' values and preferences, achieving greater integration with judgment and decision making, social cognition, and moral reasoning. Some of this research investigates utility conditionals, ‘‘if p then q’’ statements where the realization of p or q or both is valued by some agents. Various approaches to utility conditionals share the assumption that reasoners make inferences from utility conditionals based on the comparison between the utility of p and the expected utility of q. This article introduces a new parameter in this analysis, the underlying causal structure of the conditional. Four experiments showed that causal structure moderated utility-informed conditional reasoning. These inferences were strongly invited when the underlying structure of the conditional was causal, and significantly less so when the underlying structure of the conditional was diagnostic. This asymmetry was only observed for conditionals in which the utility of q was clear, and disappeared when the utility of q was unclear. Thus, an adequate account of utility-informed inferences conditional reasoning requires three components: utility, probability, and causal structure
Keywords Utility  Reasoning  Diagnostic  Conditional  Cause
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/cogs.12014
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,160
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Pragmatic Reasoning Schemas.Patricia W. Cheng & Keith J. Holyoak - 1985 - Cognitive Psychology 17 (4):391-416.

View all 28 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Is the Basic Conditional Probabilistic?Geoffrey P. Goodwin - 2014 - Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 143 (3):1214-1241.
The Oxford Handbook of Causal Reasoning.Michael Waldmann (ed.) - 2017 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Decision-Value Utilitarianism.Wesley Cooper - 2008 - Polish Journal of Philosophy 2 (2):39-50.
A Tale of Two Envelopes.Bernard D. Katz & Doris Olin - 2007 - Mind 116 (464):903-926.
Utility and Framing.Paul Weirich - 2010 - Synthese 176 (1):83 - 103.
Revealed Preference and Expected Utility.Stephen A. Clark - 2000 - Theory and Decision 49 (2):159-174.
Conditionals in Causal Decision Theory.John Cantwell - 2013 - Synthese 190 (4):661-679.
A Process Approach to the Utility for Gambling.Marc Le Menestrel - 2001 - Theory and Decision 50 (3):249-262.
Lottery Dependent Utility: A Reexamination.Ulrich Schmidt - 2001 - Theory and Decision 50 (1):35-58.
On the Tense Structure of Conditionals.Diane Barense - 1988 - Philosophy Research Archives 14:539-566.


Added to PP index

Total views
44 ( #255,239 of 2,499,295 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #418,195 of 2,499,295 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes