Chapter on rational deductions in the Routledge Handbook of Bounded Rationality

Phil Johnson-Laird released a new chapter coming out in the Routledge Handbook of Bounded Rationality on the model theory and how it establishes principles of rationality. Here is an excerpt from the chapter:

Can naïve individuals – those who are ignorant of logic or its cognate disciplines – make rational deductions? Yes, of course. Without this ability, Aristotle and his intellectual descendants would have been unable to develop logic. You might suppose, as some theorists argue, that human beings would not have evolved or survived as a species had not at least some of them been capable of some rational deductions. This way of framing the matter recognizes two robust phenomena: people differ in deductive ability (Stanovich, 1999), and some rational deductions pertinent to daily life defeat almost everyone. Perhaps that is why logic exists.

How do individuals – naïve ones should henceforth be taken for granted – make rational deductions? The question has been under investigation for over a century, but only in recent years have cognitive scientists begun to answer it. This chapter outlines one such answer – the theory of mental models. It rests on five principles corresponding to sections in the chapter. Mental models are not uncontroversial, but the final section of the chapter shows that they explain phenomena beyond other theories of human deduction.

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