Munroe on reasoning, rationality, and representation

In a new paper out in Synthese, Wade Munroe of the University of Michigan argues that mental models best characterize the mental operations that underlie reasoning and also help explain how to rationally update attitudes and beliefs. His abstract is available here:

Recently, a cottage industry has formed with the goal of analyzing reasoning. The relevant notion of reasoning in which philosophers are expressly interested is fixed through an epistemic functional description: reasoning — whatever it is — is our personal-level, rationally evaluable means of meeting our rational requirements through managing and updating our attitudes. Roughly, the dominant view in the extant literature as developed by Paul Boghossian, John Broome, and others is that reasoning (in the relevant sense) is a rule-governed operation over propositional attitudes (or their contents) that results in a change in attitude (e.g., the adoption of a new belief). In this paper, I argue that our personal-level operations over mental models and visuospatial imagery, which are representations in a non-propositional/analogue format, can be rationally evaluable processes of managing our attitudes and, thus, should be considered reasoning in the relevant sense. Furthermore, I show that if reasoning can occur through operations over mental models and imagery, then the dominant rule-following account mischaracterizes (a) the cognitive operations and representational states assumed to be constitutive of reasoning and (b) what grounds the rational status of a line of reasoning.

And the paper can be accessed by clicking this link.

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