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Bayesian RationalityThe probabilistic approach to human reasoning$
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Mike Oaksford and Nick Chater

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780198524496

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198524496.001.0001

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Does the exception prove the rule? How people reason with conditionals

Does the exception prove the rule? How people reason with conditionals

(p.99) Chapter 5 Does the exception prove the rule? How people reason with conditionals
Bayesian Rationality

Mike Oaksford

Nick Chater

Oxford University Press

This chapter shows how a probabilistic perspective can resolve many of the outstanding issues in reasoning research. The goal is to show that many of the errors and biases seen in experiments on human reasoning are the result of people applying probabilistic strategies used for coping with their uncertain world. In the psychology of reasoning it has been standard to take logic as the normative theory against which performance is assessed. However, standard logic has long been known not to provide an adequate account of reasoning. The key logical term where this issue arises is the conditional, if…then. This simple expression is probably the most important to all systems of reasoning. It has long been observed in the philosophy of language and logic that there is a mismatch between how logic treats the conditional and how it is used in natural language and everyday argument. The chapter argues that this mismatch suggests a probabilistic approach to the conditional. It shows that adopting this approach allows us to explain much of the data on conditional inference.

Keywords:   conditional inference, human reasoning, probabilistic perspective, logic

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