Sangeet S. Khemlani & P. N. Johnson-Laird
Minds & Machines
Some philosophers argue that the principles of human reasoning are and that mistakes are no more than momentary lapses in ‘‘information processing." This article makes a case to the contrary. It shows that human reasoners systematic fallacies. The theory of mental models predicts these
errors. It postulates that individuals construct mental models of the possibilities to the premises of an inference refer. But, their models usually represent what is in a possibility, not what is false. This procedure reduces the load on working and for the most part it yields valid inferences. However, as a computer implementing the theory revealed, it leads to fallacious conclusions for inferences—those for which it is crucial to represent what is false in a possibility. Experiments demonstrate the variety of these fallacies and contrast them control problems, which reasoners tend to get right. The fallacies can be illusions, and they occur in reasoning based on sentential connectives as ‘‘if’’ and ‘‘or’’, quantifiers such as ‘‘all the artists’’ and ‘‘some of the artists’’, deontic relations such as ‘‘permitted’’ and ‘‘obligated’’, and causal relations such causes’’ and ‘‘allows’’. After we have reviewed the principal results, we consider potential for alternative accounts to explain these illusory inferences. And show how the illusions illuminate the nature of human rationality.
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