Paper on free choice permissions, paradoxes, and disjunctive reasoning now out in JCP

Phil Johnson-Laird, Cristina Quelas, and Celia Rasga publised a paper in the Journal of Cognitive Psychology titled “The mental model theory of free choice permissions and paradoxical disjunctive inferences”. The paper addresses paradoxes of free choice, as in: You can have the sole or the lobster; therefore, you can have the sole. The inference seems acceptable, but the abstract disjunctive form of the inference, A or B or both; therefore, A, is invalid. As the authors write, the theory of mental models explains what’s going on. The abstract of their paper is here:

Inferences of the sort: A or B; therefore A, are invalid. Yet, the paradoxes of free choice are acceptable: You can have sole or lobster; so, you can have sole. Pragmatic theories attempt to save logic. A semantic theory of human reasoning is founded on mental models of possibilities. “Or” refers to a conjunction of possibilities that each hold in default of knowledge to the contrary. A disjunction: it is permissible to do A or to do B, yields a deontic interpretation of the possibilities, and elicits mental models of a conjunction of default permissions. They yield or-deletions, such as: therefore, it’s permissible to do A. The theory predicts the paradoxes and new phenomena, which four experiments corroborated. For example, exclusive disjunctions such as: Few of the artists are brutalists or else cubists, have an intuitive model that yields or-deletions, but deliberation can construct models that refute them.

and is it available for download here.

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