If people believe that one activity is a kind of another, they also tend to believe that the second activity is a part of the first. For example, they assert that deciding is a kind of thinking and that thinking is a part of deciding. C. Fellbaum and G. A. Miller's (see record 1991-03356-001) explanation for this phenomenon is based on the idea that people interpret part of in the domain of verbs as a type of logical entailment. Their explanation, (...) however, suffers from at least 2 deficiencies. First, it fails to account for parallel effects with nouns (e.g., a contest is a kind of an activity, and an activity is a part of a contest). Second, it contains a flaw that incorrectly predicts many activities to be parts of each other (e.g., coming is part of going and going part of coming). However, a hypothesis L. J. Rips and F. G. Conrad (see record 1989-24843-001) originally proposed for the kind–part reciprocal effect avoids both of these difficulties. (shrink)
Many experiments with infants suggest that they possess quantitative abilities, and many experimentalists believe that these abilities set the stage for later mathematics: natural numbers and arithmetic. However, the connection between these early and later skills is far from obvious. We evaluate two possible routes to mathematics and argue that neither is sufficient: (1) We first sketch what we think is the most likely model for infant abilities in this domain, and we examine proposals for extrapolating the natural number concept (...) from these beginnings. Proposals for arriving at natural number by (empirical) induction presuppose the mathematical concepts they seek to explain. Moreover, standard experimental tests for children's understanding of number terms do not necessarily tap these concepts. (2) True concepts of number do appear, however, when children are able to understand generalizations over all numbers; for example, the principle of additive commutativity (a+b=b+a). Theories of how children learn such principles usually rely on a process of mapping from physical object groupings. But both experimental results and theoretical considerations imply that direct mapping is insufficient for acquiring these principles. We suggest instead that children may arrive at natural numbers and arithmetic in a more top-down way, by constructing mathematical schemas. (shrink)
This article considers how people judge the identity of objects (e.g., how people decide that a description of an object at one time, t₀, belongs to the same object as a description of it at another time, t₁). The authors propose a causal continuer model for these judgments, based on an earlier theory by Nozick (1981). According to this model, the 2 descriptions belong to the same object if (a) the object at t₁ is among those that are causally close (...) enough to be genuine continuers of the original and (b) it is the closest of these close-enough contenders. A quantitative version of the model makes accurate predictions about judgments of which a pair of objects is identical to an original (Experiments 1 and 2). The model makes correct qualitative predictions about identity across radical disassembly (Experiment 1) as well as more ordinary transformations (Experiments 2 and 3). (shrink)
A central aspect of people's beliefs about the mind is that mental activities—for example, thinking, reasoning, and problem solving—are interrelated, with some activities being kinds or parts of others. In common-sense psychology, reasoning is a kind of thinking and reasoning is part of problem solving. People's conceptions of these mental kinds and parts can furnish clues to the ordinary meaning of these terms and to the differences between folk and scientific psychology. In this article, we use a new technique for (...) deriving partial orders to analyze subjects' decisions about whether one mental activity is a kind or part of another. The resulting taxonomies and partonomies differ from those of common object categories in exhibiting a converse relation in this domain: One mental activity is a part of another if the second is a kind of the first. The derived taxonomies and partonomies also allow us to predict results from further experiments that examine subjects' memory for these activities, their ratings of the activities' importance, and their judgments about whether there could be "possible minds" that possess some of the activities but not others. (shrink)
Modus ponens is the argument from premises of the form If A, then B and A to the conclusion B. Nearly all participants agree that the modus ponens conclusion logically follows when the argument appears in this Basic form. However, adding a further premise can lower participants’ rate of agreement—an effect called suppression. We propose a theory of suppression that draws on contemporary ideas about conditional sentences in linguistics and philosophy. Semantically, the theory assumes that people interpret an indicative conditional (...) as a context-sensitive strict conditional: true if and only if its consequent is true in each of a contextually determined set of situations in which its antecedent is true. Pragmatically, the theory claims that context changes in response to new assertions, including new conditional premises. Thus, the conclusion of a modus ponens argument may no longer be accepted in the changed context. Psychologically, the theory describes people as capable of reasoning about broad classes of possible situations, ordered by typicality, without having to reason about individual possible worlds. The theory accounts for the main suppression phenomena, and it generates some novel predictions that new experiments confirm. (shrink)
We present and discuss a series of experiments designed to test one of the most promising pragmatic accounts of conditional perfection—the phenomenon according to which conditionals can sometimes be strengthened to biconditionals. We test the idea that conditional perfection is a form of exhaustification triggered by the kind of question that the conditional is used to answer. We uncover evidence that conditional perfection is a form of exhaustification, but not that it is triggered by a relationship to a salient question.
A substantial body of evidence shows that people tend to rely too heavily on explanations when trying to justify an opinion. Some research suggests these errors may arise from an inability to distinguish between explanations and the evidence that bears upon them. We examine an alternative account, that many people do distinguish between explanations and evidence, but rely more heavily on unsubstantiated explanations when evidence is scarce or absent. We examine the philosophical and psychological distinctions between explanation and evidence, and (...) show that participants use explanations as a substitute for missing evidence. Experiment 1 replicates the results of other researchers, but further shows that participants generate more evidence when they are not constrained by their lack of data. Merely mentioning a source of data can alter both their evaluation (Experiment 2) and their production (Experiment 3) of explanations and evidence. In Experiment 4, we show that participants can explicitly consider the availability of evidence and other pragmatic factors when evaluating arguments. Finally, we consider the implications of using explanations to replace missing evidence as a strategy in argument. (shrink)
Bayes nets are formal representations of causal systems that many psychologists have claimed as plausible mental representations. One purported advantage of Bayes nets is that they may provide a theory of counterfactual conditionals, such as If Calvin had been at the party, Miriam would have left early. This article compares two proposed Bayes net theories as models of people's understanding of counterfactuals. Experiments 1-3 show that neither theory makes correct predictions about backtracking counterfactuals (in which the event of the if-clause (...) occurs after the event of the then-clause), and Experiment 4 shows the same is true of forward counterfactuals. An amended version of one of the approaches, however, can provide a more accurate account of these data. (shrink)
This interdisciplinary work is a collection of major essays on reasoning: deductive, inductive, abductive, belief revision, defeasible, cross cultural, conversational, and argumentative. They are each oriented toward contemporary empirical studies. The book focuses on foundational issues, including paradoxes, fallacies, and debates about the nature of rationality, the traditional modes of reasoning, as well as counterfactual and causal reasoning. It also includes chapters on the interface between reasoning and other forms of thought. In general, this last set of essays represents growth (...) points in reasoning research, drawing connections to pragmatics, cross-cultural studies, emotion and evolution. (shrink)
This article reports results from two studies of how people answer counterfactual questions about simple machines. Participants learned about devices that have a specific configuration of components, and they answered questions of the form “If component X had not operated [failed], would component Y have operated?” The data from these studies indicate that participants were sensitive to the way in which the antecedent state is described—whether component X “had not operated” or “had failed.” Answers also depended on whether the device (...) is deterministic or probabilistic—whether X's causal parents “always” or only “usually” cause X to operate. Participants' explanations of their answers often invoked non-operation of causally prior components or unreliability of prior connections. They less often mentioned independence from these causal elements. (shrink)
The present study examined the effects of semantic structure on simple inductive judgments about category members. For a particular category, subjects were told that one of the species had a given property and were asked to estimate the proportion of instances in the other species that possessed the property. The results indicated that category structure—in particular, the typicality of the species—influenced subjects' judgments. These results were interpreted by models based on the following assumption: When little is known about the underlying (...) distribution of a property, subjects assume that the distribution mirrors that of better-known properties. For this reason, if subjects learn that an unknown property is possessed by a typical species, they are more likely to generalize than if the same fact had been learned about an atypical species. (shrink)
Our knowledge of natural categories includes beliefs not only about what is true of them but also about what would be true if the categories had properties other than (or in addition to) their actual ones. Evidence about these beliefs comes from three lines of research: experiments on category-based induction, on hypothetical transformations of category members, and on definitions of kind terms. The 1st part of this article examines results and theories arising from each of these research streams. The 2nd (...) part considers possible unified theories for this domain, including theories based on ideals and norms. It also contrasts 2 broad frameworks for modal category information: one focusing on beliefs about intrinsic or essential properties, the other focusing on interacting causal relations. (shrink)
This article looks at the way people determine the antecedent of a pronoun in sentence pairs, such as: Albert invited Ron to dinner. He spent hours cleaning the house. The experiment reported here is motivated by the idea that such judgments depend on reasoning about identity . Because the identity of an individual over time depends on the causal-historical path connecting the stages of the individual, the correct antecedent will also depend on causal connections. The experiment varied how likely it (...) is that the event of the first sentence would cause the event of the second for each of the two individuals . Decisions about the antecedent followed causal likelihood. A mathematical model of causal identity accounted for most of the key aspects of the data from the individual sentence pairs. (shrink)
Sortal terms, such as table or horse, are count nouns (akin to a basic-level terms). According to some theories, the meaning of sortals provides conditions for telling objects apart (individuating objects, e.g., telling one table from a second) and for identifying objects over time (e.g., determining that a particular horse at one time is the same horse at another). A number of psychologists have proposed that sortal concepts likewise provide psychologically real conditions for individuating and identifying things. However, this paper (...) reports five experiments that cast doubt on these psychological claims. Experiments 1-3 suggest that sortal concepts do not determine when an object ceases to exist and therefore do not decide when the object can no longer be identical to a later one. Experiments 4-5 similarly suggest that sortal concepts do not provide determinate conditions for individuating objects. For example, they do not always decide whether a room contains one table or two. All five experiments feature ordinary objects undergoing ordinary changes. (shrink)
The Origin of Concepts sets out an impressive defense of the view that children construct entirely new systems of concepts. We offer here two questions about this theory. First, why doesn't the bootstrapping process provide a pattern for translating between the old and new systems, contradicting their claimed incommensurability? Second, can the bootstrapping process properly distinguish meaning change from belief change?
Identity is a transitive relation, according to all standard accounts. Necessarily, if x = y and y = z, then x = z. However, people sometimes say that two objects, x and z, are the same as a third, y, even when x and z have different properties (thus, x = y and y = z, but x ≠ z). In the present experiments, participants read stories about an iceberg that breaks into two icebergs, one to the east and the (...) other to the west. Many participants (32–54%, in baseline conditions across experiments) decided that both successors were the original iceberg, despite the different spatial locations of the successors. Experiment 1 shows that this tendency is not due to participants failing to understand both to mean both are simultaneously the original. Similarly, Experiment 2 demonstrates that the tendency is not solely due to their interpreting the question to be about properties of the icebergs rather than about the icebergs themselves. Experiments 3 and 4 suggest, instead, that participants may understand Which is the original? to mean Which, in its own right, is entitled to be the original? Emphasizing entitlement increases the number of seemingly intransitive responses, whereas emphasizing the formal properties of identity decreases them. (shrink)
We agree that supernatural beliefs are pervasive. However, we propose a more general account rooted in how people trace ordinary objects over time. Tracking identity involves attending to the causal history of an object, a process that may implicate hidden mechanisms. We discuss experiments in which participants exhibit the same “supernatural” beliefs when reasoning about the fates of cups and automobiles as those exhibited by Bering's participants when reasoning about spirits.
A current and very influential theory in psychology holds that infants have innate, perceptually informed systems that endow them with surprisingly high-level concepts—for example, concepts of cardinality and causality. Proponents of core cognition hold that these initial concepts then provide the building blocks for later adult ideas within these domains. This paper reviews the evidence for core cognition and argues that these systems aren’t sufficient to explain how children learn their way to adult thoughts about language, number, or cause.
When young children attempt to locate numbers along a number line, they show logarithmic (or other compressive) placement. For example, the distance between “5” and “10” is larger than the distance between “75” and “80.” This has often been explained by assuming that children have a logarithmically scaled mental representation of number (e.g., Berteletti, Lucangeli, Piazza, Dehaene, & Zorzi, 2010; Siegler & Opfer, 2003). However, several investigators have questioned this argument (e.g., Barth & Paladino, 2011; Cantlon, Cordes, Libertus, & Brannon, (...) 2009; Cohen & Blanc-Goldhammer, 2011). We show here that children prefer linear number lines over logarithmic lines when they do not have to deal with the meanings of individual numerals (i.e., number symbols, such as “5” or “80”). In Experiments 1 and 2, when 5- and 6- year-olds choose between number lines in a forced-choice task, they prefer linear to logarithmic and exponential displays. However, this preference does not persist when Experiment 3 presents the same lines without reference to numbers, and children simply choose which line they like best. In Experiments 4 and 5, children position beads on a number line to indicate how the integers 1 100 are arranged. The bead placement of 4- and 5-year-olds is better fit by a linear than by a logarithmic model. We argue that previous results from the number line task may depend on strategies specific to the task. (shrink)
This special issue of Informal Logic brings together a num-ber of traditions from the psychology and philosophy of argument. Psycho-logists’ interest in argument typically arises in understanding how indivi-duals form and change their beliefs. Thus, theories of argument can serve as models of the structure of justi-fications for belief, as methods of diagnosing errors in beliefs, and as prototypes for learning. The articles in this issue illustrate all three of these connections.
Traditional theories of how children learn the positive integers start from infants' abilities in detecting the quantity of physical objects. Our target article examined this view and found no plausible accounts of such development. Most of our commentators appear to agree that no adequate developmental theory is presently available, but they attempt to hold onto a role for early enumeration. Although some defend the traditional theories, others introduce new basic quantitative abilities, new methods of transformation, or new types of end (...) states. A survey of these proposals, however, shows that they do not succeed in bridging the gap to knowledge of the integers. We suggest that a better theory depends on starting with primitives that are inherently structural and mathematical. (shrink)
In this paper, we report results from experiments in which people read conversational arguments and then judge the convincingness of each claim and the individual speakers' burden of proof. The results showed an "anti-primacy" effect: People judge the speaker who makes the first claim as having greater burden of proof. This effect persists even when each speaker's claims are rated equally convincing. We also find that people rate claims less convincing when they appear in the first part of an argument (...) than when they appear in isolation. (shrink)
Reasoning es una obra monumental de más de mil páginas editada en estrecha colaboración por el filósofo Jonathan E. Adler y el psicólogo Lance J. Rips para esclarecer el intrincado campo de investigación relacionado con los fundamentos de la inferencia y, en general, del razonamiento humano. En la actualidad, en pocos casos va unido el trabajo de compilar y editar textos científicos con el afán enciclopédico: un proyecto editorial que sobrepasa con razón los objetivos de la mayor parte (...) de los libros editados para la recopilación de artículos en torno a un mismo tema de investigación. Reasoning supone un empeño de características enciclopédicas: ha conseguido convertirse en una referencia obligada desde que saliera a la luz en 2008 para ofrecer al lector especialista artículos científicos de las más reputadas y consolidadas voces en aquellos campos de conocimiento presentes ya en los proyectos enciclopédicos europeos del siglo de las luces, a saber: el significado del racionalismo, los límites imputables a la naturaleza del conocimiento humano, las paradojas presentes en la inducción, etc. (shrink)