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Paradigms, possibilities and probabilities: Comment on Hinterecker et al. (2016)

By Michael Oaksford, D. Over and Nicole Cruz de echeverria loebell


Hinterecker et al. (2016) compared the adequacy of the probabilistic new paradigm in reasoning with the recent revision of mental models theory (MMT) for explaining a novel class of inferences containing the modal term “possibly”. For example, the door is closed or the window is open or both, therefore, possibly the door is closed and the window is open (A or B or both, therefore, possibly(A & B)). They concluded that their results support MMT. In this comment, it is argued that Hinterecker et al. (2016) have not adequately characterised the theory of probabilistic validity (p-validity) on which the new paradigm depends. It is unclear how p-validity can be applied to these inferences, which are anyway peripheral to the theory. It is also argued that the revision of MMT is not well motivated and its adoption leads to many logical absurdities. Moreover, the comparison is not appropriate because these theories are defined at different levels of computational explanation. In particular, revised MMT lacks a provably consistent computational level theory that could justify treating these inferences as valid. It is further argued that the data could result from the non-colloquial locutions used to express the premises. Finally, an alternative pragmatic account is proposed based on the idea that a conclusion is possible if what someone knows cannot rule it out. This account could be applied to the unrevised mental model theory rendering the revision redundant

Topics: psyc
Publisher: American Psychological Association
Year: 2018
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.bbk.ac.uk.oai2:21183
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