Research on reasoning about consequential arguments has been an active but piecemeal enterprise. Previous research considered in depth some subclasses ofconsequential arguments, but further understanding of consequential arguments requires that we address their greater variety, avoiding the risk of over-generalisation from specific examples. Ideally we ought to be able to systematically generate the set of consequential arguments, and then engage in random sampling of stimuli within that set. The current article aims at making steps in that direction, using the theory (...) of utility conditionals as a way to generate a large set of consequential arguments, and offering one study illustrating how the theory can be used for the random sampling of stimuli. Itis expected that further use of this method will bring more diversity to experimental research on consequential arguments, and more robustness to models of argumentation from consequences. (shrink)
Argumentation is a very fertile area of research in Artificial Intelligence, and various semantics have been developed to predict when an argument can be accepted, depending on the abstract structure of its defeaters and defenders. When these semantics make conflicting predictions, theoretical arbitration typically relies on ad hoc examples and normative intuition about what prediction ought to be the correct one. We advocate a complementary, descriptive-experimental method, based on the collection of behavioral data about the way human reasoners handle these (...) critical cases. We report two studies applying this method to the case of reinstatement (both in its simple and floating forms). Results speak for the cognitive plausibility of reinstatement and yet show that it does not yield the full expected recovery of the attacked argument. Furthermore, results show that floating reinstatement yields comparable effects to that of simple reinstatement, thus arguing in favor of preferred argumentation semantics, rather than grounded argumentation semantics. Besides their theoretical value for validating and inspiring argumentation semantics, these results have applied value for developing artificial agents meant to argue with human users. (shrink)
Two notions from philosophical logic and linguistics are brought together and applied to the psychological study of defeasible conditional reasoning. The distinction between disabling conditions and alternative causes is shown to be a special case of Pollock's (1987) distinction between 'rebutting' and 'undercutting' defeaters. 'Inferential' conditionals are shown to come in two varieties, one that is sensitive to rebutters, the other to undercutters. It is thus predicted and demonstrated in two experiments that the type of inferential conditional used as the (...) major premise of conditional arguments can reverse the heretofore classic, distinctive effects of defeaters. (shrink)
Most instantiations of the inference ‘y; so if x, y’ seem intuitively odd, a phenomenon known as one of the paradoxes of the material conditional. A common explanation of the oddity, endorsed by Mental Model theory, is based on the intuition that the conclusion of the inference throws away semantic information. We build on this explanation to identify two joint conditions under which the inference becomes acceptable: (a) the truth of x has bearings on the relevance of asserting y; and (...) (b) the speaker can reasonably be expected not to be in a position to assume that x is false. We show that this dual pragmatic criterion makes accurate predictions, and contrast it with the criterion defined by the mental model theory of conditionals, which we show to be inadequate. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
People can reason about the preferences of other agents, and predict their behavior based on these preferences. Surprisingly, the psychology of reasoning has long neglected this fact, and focused instead on disinterested inferences, of which preferences are neither an input nor an output. This exclusive focus is untenable, though, as there is mounting evidence that reasoners take into account the preferences of others, at the expense of logic when logic and preferences point to different conclusions. This article summarizes the most (...) recent account of how reasoners predict the behavior and attitude of other agents based on conditional rules describing actions and their consequences, and reports new experimental data about which assumptions reasoners retract when their predictions based on preferences turn out to be false. (shrink)
This paper first provides a brief survey of a possibilistic handling of default rules. A set of default rules of the form, "generally, from α deduce β", is viewed as the family of possibility distributions satisfying constraints expressing that the situation where α and β is true has a greater plausibility than the one where α and ⇁β is true. When considering only the subset of linear possibility distributions, the well-known System P of postulates proposed by Kraus, Lehmann and Magidor, (...) has been obtained. We also present two rational extensions: one based on the minimum specificity principle and the other is based on the lexicographic ordering. The second part of the paper presents an empirical study of three desirable properties for a consequence relation that capture default reasoning: Rationality, Property Inheritance and Ambiguity Preservation. An experiment is conducted to investigate 13 patterns of inference for the test of these properties. Our experimental apparatus confirms previous results on the relevance of System P, and enforces the psychological relevance of the studied properties. (shrink)
Reasoning research has traditionally focused on the derivation of beliefs from beliefs, but it is increasingly turning to reasoning about decisions. In the absence of a single, entrenched normative model, the drive toward normativism is weaker in this new field than in its parent fields. The current balance between normativism and descriptivism is illustrated by three approaches to reasoning about decisions.
In polite contexts, people find it difficult to perceive whether they can derive scalar inferences from what others say . Because this uncertainty can lead to costly misunderstandings, it is important to identify the cues people can rely on to solve their interpretative problem. In this article, we consider two such cues: Making a long Pause before the statement, and prefacing the statement with Well. Data from eight experiments show that Pauses are more effective than Wells as cues to scalar (...) inferences in polite contexts—because they appear to give a specific signal to switch expectations in the direction of bad news, whereas Well appears to give a generic signal to make extra processing effort. We consider the applied value of these findings for human–human and human–machine interaction, as well as their implications for the study of reasoning and discourse. (shrink)
Balancing the pros and cons of two options is undoubtedly a very appealing decision procedure, but one that has received scarce scientific attention so far, either formally or empirically. We describe a formal framework for pros and cons decisions, where the arguments under consideration can be of varying importance, but whose importance cannot be precisely quantified. We then define eight heuristics for balancing these pros and cons, and compare the predictions of these to the choices made by 62 human participants (...) on a selection of 33 situations. The Levelwise Tallying heuristic clearly emerges as a winner in this competition. Further refinements of this heuristic are considered in the discussion, as well as its relation to Take the Best and Cumulative Prospect Theory. (shrink)
The suppression of the Modus Ponens inference is described as a loss of confidence in the conclusion C of an argument ''If A1 then C; If A2 then C; A1'' where A2 is a requirement for C to happen. It is hypothesised that this loss of confidence is due to the derivation of the conversational implicature ''there is a chance that A2 might not be satisfied'', and that different syntactic introductions of the requirement A2 (e.g., ''If C then A2'') will (...) lead to various frequencies in the derivation of this implicature, according to previous studies in the field of causal explanation. An experiment is conducted, whose results support those claims. Results are discussed in the light of the Mental Logic and Mental Model theories, as well as in the light of the pragmatic approach to uncertain reasoning. (shrink)
We applied a technique borrowed from the field of bioethics to test whether justice-related factors influence laypersons’ decisions concerning business ethics. In the first experiment, participants judged the acceptability of remuneration policies and in the second that of executive bonuses. In each study, participants judged a set of 36 situations. To create the scenarios, we varied retributive justice—the amount of remuneration; procedural justice—the clarity of the procedure that determined the remuneration; distributive justice—the extent of the distribution of bonus payments amongst (...) employees; and restorative justice—a special compensation for hazardous working conditions or accidents at work. K-means clustering of all 36 judgments revealed four different personal positions in both experiments. One group of people readily accepted all situations. The other three groups’ judgments were mainly a function of distributive justice modulated in different ways by the context determined by the other variables. Furthermore, people conceive of distributive justice as categorical: Acceptability judgments only increase if companies give bonuses to all employees. Granting bonuses to a subset does not increase acceptability. Our results are useful for policy makers and provide business ethics researchers with a novel technique. (shrink)
. This paper first provides a brief survey of a possibilistic handling of default rules. A set of default rules of the form, “generally, from α deduce β”, is viewed as the family of possibility distributions satisfying constraints expressing that the situation where α and β is true has a greater plausibility than the one where a and - β is true. When considering only the subset of linear possibility distributions, the well-known System P of postulates proposed by Kraus, Lehmann (...) and Magidor, has been obtained. We also present two rational extensions: one based on the minimum specificity principle and the other is based on the lexicographic ordering. The second part of the paper presents an empirical study of three desirable properties for a consequence relation that capture default reasoning: Rationality, Property Inheritance and Ambiguity Preservation. An experiment is conducted to investigate 13 patterns of inference for the test of these properties. Our experimental apparatus confirms previous results on the relevance of System P, and enforces the psychological relevance of the studied properties. (shrink)
Using a latent variable modelling strategy we study individual differences in patterns of answers to the selection task and to the truth table task. Specifically we investigate the prediction of mental model theory according to which the individual tendency to select the false consequent card (in the selection task) is negatively correlated with the tendency to judge the false antecedent cases as irrelevant (in the truth table task). We fit a psychometric model to two large samples ( N = 486, (...) twice), and find no evidence for this negative correlation. We examine which of the assumptions of the model theory must be amended to accommodate our findings. (shrink)
Although we endorse the primacy of uncertainty in reasoning, we argue that a probabilistic framework cannot model the fundamental skill of proof administration. Furthermore, we are skeptical about the assumption that standard probability calculus is the appropriate formalism to represent human uncertainty. There are other models up to this task, so let us not repeat the excesses of the past.
Personality signatures are sets of if-then rules describing how a given person would feel or act in a specific situation. These rules can be used as the major premise of a deductive argument, but they are mostly processed for social cognition purposes; and this common usage is likely to leak into the way they are processed in a deductive reasoning context. It is hypothesised that agreement with a Modus Ponens argument featuring a personality signature as its major premise is affected (...) by the reasoner's own propensity to display this personality signature. To test this prediction, Modus Ponens arguments were constructed from conditionally phrased items extracted from available personality scales. This allowed recording of (a) agreement with the conclusion of these arguments, and (b) the reasoner's propensity to display the personality signature, using as a proxy this reasoner's score on the personality scale without the items used in the argument. Three experiments ( N = 256, N = 318, N = 298) applied this procedure to Fairness, Responsive Joy, and Self-Control. These experiments yielded very comparable effects, establishing that a reasoner's propensity to display a given personality signature determines this reasoner's agreement with the conclusion of a Modus Ponens argument featuring the personality signature. (shrink)
The dual-process model of cognition but most especially its reflective component, system 2 processing, shows strong conceptual links with critical thinking. In fact, the salient characteristics of system 2 processing are so strikingly close to that of critical thinking, that it is tempting to claim that critical thinking is system 2 processing, no more and no less. In this article, I consider the two sides of that claim: Does critical thinking always require system 2 processing? And does system 2 processing (...) always result in critical thinking? I argue that it is plausible and helpful to consider that critical thinking requires system 2 processing. In particular, this assumption can provide interesting insights and benchmarks for critical thinking education. On the other hand, I show that system 2 processing can result in a range of outcomes which are either contradictory with critical thinking, or of debatable social desirability—which suggests that there is more to critical thinking than mere system 2 processing, and more to system 2 processing than just critical thinking. (shrink)
Important decisions are often based on a distributed process of information processing, from a knowledge base that is itself distributed among agents. The simplest such situation is that where a decision-maker seeks the recommendations of experts. Because experts may have vested interests in the consequences of their recommendations, decision-makers usually seek the advice of experts they trust. Trust, however, is a commodity that is usually built through repeated face time and social interaction and thus cannot easily be built in a (...) global world where we have immediate internet access to a vast pool of experts. In this article, we integrate findings from experimental psychology and formal tools from Artificial Intelligence to offer a preliminary roadmap for solving the problem of trust in this computer-mediated environment. We conclude the article by considering a diverse array of extended applications of such a solution. (shrink)
An individual obtains an unfair benefit and faces the dilemma of either hiding it (to avoid being excluded from future interactions) or disclosing it (to avoid being discovered as a deceiver). In line with the target article, we expect that this dilemma will be solved by a fixed individual strategy rather than a case-by-case rational calculation.
If imagination is guided by the same principles as rational thoughts, then we ought not to stop at the way people make inferences to get insights about the workings of imagination; we ought to consider as well the way they make rational choices. This broader approach accounts for the puzzling effect of reasons to act on the mutability of actions.
Two notions from philosophical logic and linguistics are brought together and applied to the psychological study of defeasible conditional reasoning. The distinction between disabling conditions and alternative causes is shown to be a special case of Pollock's distinction between ‘rebutting' and ‘undercutting' defeaters. ‘Inferential' conditionals are shown to come in two types, one that is sensitive to rebutters, the other to undercutters. It is thus predicted and demonstrated in two experiments that the type of inferential conditional used as the major (...) premise of conditional arguments can reverse the heretofore classic, distinctive effects of defeaters. (shrink)