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ReasoningNew Essays on Theoretical and Practical Thinking$
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Magdalena Balcerak Jackson and Brendan Balcerak Jackson

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198791478

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198791478.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 07 December 2021

Small Steps and Great Leaps in Thought

Small Steps and Great Leaps in Thought

The Epistemology of Basic Deductive Rules

Chapter:
(p.152) 9 Small Steps and Great Leaps in Thought
Source:
Reasoning
Author(s):

Joshua Schechter

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198791478.003.0009

We are justified in employing the rule of inference Modus Ponens (or one much like it) as basic in our reasoning. By contrast, we are not justified in employing a rule of inference that permits inferring to some difficult mathematical theorem from the relevant axioms in a single step. Such an inferential step is intuitively “too large” to count as justified. What accounts for this difference? This chapter canvasses several possible explanations. It argues that the most promising approach is to appeal to features like usefulness or indispensability to important or required cognitive projects. On the resulting view, whether an inferential step counts as large or small depends on the importance of the relevant rule of inference in our thought.

Keywords:   deductive inference, epistemic responsibility, justification, reasoning, small steps

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