Deduction (Paperback) book cover


By R.M.J. Byrne, P.N. Johnson-Laird

© 1991 – Psychology Press

256 pages

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New in Paperback: 9780863771491
pub: 1992-10-31

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About the Book

How do people make deductions? The orthodox answer to the question is that deductive reasoning depends on a mental logic containing formal rules of inference. The authors of this book have spent several years investigating the process. They repudiate the orthodox theory. They argue instead that people reason by imagining the relevant state of affairs, i.e. building an internal model of it, formulating a tentative conclusion based on this model, and then searching for alternative models that might refute the conclusion. Formal rules work syntactically; mental rules work semantically. The two theories therefore make different predictions about the difficulty of deductions. The book reports the results of experiments that compared these predictions in the three main domains of deduction: propositional reasoning based on connectives such as "if" and "or"; relational reasoning based on spatial descriptions; and complex reasoning based on quantifiers such as "all" and "none". In each domain, the results corroborated the model theory and ran counter to the use of formal rules.

The authors relate their findings to problems in artificial intelligence, linguistics and anthropology. They describe various computer programs based on the model theory, including one that solves a major problem in the design of electronic circuits. Finally, they show how the theory resolves a long standing controversy about the nature of rationality and whether there are cognitive universals common to all human cultures.

Table of Contents

Logic. Deduction and Cognitive Science. Reasoning with Propositions. Conditionals. Relational Reasoning. One Quantifier at a Time: The Psychology of Syllogisms. Many Quantifiers: Reasoning with Multiple Quantification. Meta-Deduction. How to Draw Parsimonious Conclusions: An Algorithm Based on Models. Beyond Deduction: Rationality, Non - Monotonicity, and Everyday Reasoning.

About the Series

Essays in Cognitive Psychology

Essays in Cognitive Psychology is designed to meet the need for rapid publication of brief volumes in cognitive psychology.

Primary topics include perception, movement and action, attention, memory, mental representation, language and problem solving.

Furthermore, the series seeks to define cognitive psychology in its broadest sense, encompassing all topics either informed by, or informing, the study of mental processes. As such, it covers a wide range of subjects including computational approaches to cognition, cognitive neuroscience, social cognition, and cognitive development, as well as areas more traditionally defined as cognitive psychology.

Each volume in the series makes a conceptual contribution to the topic by reviewing and synthesizing the existing research literature, by advancing theory in the area, or by some combination of these missions.

The principal aim is that authors provide an overview of their own highly successful research program in an area.

Volumes also include an assessment of current knowledge and identification of possible future trends in research.

Each book is a self-contained unit supplying the advanced reader with a well-structured review of the work described and evaluated.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Cognitive Psychology