Reasoning from uncertain premises: Effects of expertise and conversational context

Thinking and Reasoning 7 (4):367 – 390 (2001)
Four experiments investigated uncertainty about a premise in a deductive argument as a function of the expertise of the speaker and of the conversational context. The procedure mimicked everyday reasoning in that participants were not told that the premises were to be treated as certain. The results showed that the perceived likelihood of a conclusion was greater when the major or the minor premise was uttered by an expert rather than a novice (Experiment 1). The results also showed that uncertainty about the conclusion was higher when the major premise was uttered by a novice and an alternative premise by an expert, compared to when the major premise was uttered by an expert and the alternative by a novice (Experiment 2). Similarly, the believability of a conclusion was considerably lower when the minor premise was uttered by a novice and denied by an expert, as opposed to when an expert uttered the minor premise and a novice denied it (Experiment 3). Experiment 4 showed that the nature of the uncertainty induced by a denial of the minor premise depended on whether or not the context was a conversation. These results pose difficult problems for current theories of reasoning, as current theories are based on the results of experiments in which the premises are treated as certain. Our discussion of the results emphasises the importance of pragmatics in reasoning, namely, the role of general knowledge about the world in assessing the probability of a premise uttered by an expert or a novice and the role of interpretations of the premise based on pragmatic inferences in revising these initial probabilities.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 27,658
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

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

20 ( #247,370 of 2,169,707 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #126,617 of 2,169,707 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums