Origins of Hierarchical Logical Reasoning

Cognitive Science 47 (2):13250 (2023)
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Hierarchical cognitive mechanisms underlie sophisticated behaviors, including language, music, mathematics, tool-use, and theory of mind. The origins of hierarchical logical reasoning have long been, and continue to be, an important puzzle for cognitive science. Prior approaches to hierarchical logical reasoning have often failed to distinguish between observable hierarchical behavior and unobservable hierarchical cognitive mechanisms. Furthermore, past research has been largely methodologically restricted to passive recognition tasks as compared to active generation tasks that are stronger tests of hierarchical rules. We argue that it is necessary to implement learning studies in humans, non-human species, and machines that are analyzed with formal models comparing the contribution of different cognitive mechanisms implicated in the generation of hierarchical behavior. These studies are critical to advance theories in the domains of recursion, rule-learning, symbolic reasoning, and the potentially uniquely human cognitive origins of hierarchical logical reasoning.



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Hayley Clatterbuck
University of Wisconsin, Madison

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