Synthese

, Volume 167, Issue 2, pp 317–325 | Cite as

Logical fallacies as informational shortcuts

Article

Abstract

The paper argues that the two best known formal logical fallacies, namely denying the antecedent (DA) and affirming the consequent (AC) are not just basic and simple errors, which prove human irrationality, but rather informational shortcuts, which may provide a quick and dirty way of extracting useful information from the environment. DA and AC are shown to be degraded versions of Bayes’ theorem, once this is stripped of some of its probabilities. The less the probabilities count, the closer these fallacies become to a reasoning that is not only informationally useful but also logically valid.

Keywords

Affirming the consequent Bayes’ theorem Denying the antecedent Formal fallacies Rationality 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Research Chair in Philosophy of Information and GPI, School of HumanitiesUniversity of HertfordshireHatfieldUK
  2. 2.St Cross College and IEGUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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