Synthese

, Volume 190, Issue 16, pp 3535–3551 | Cite as

Can there be reasoning with degrees of belief?

Article

Abstract

In this paper I am concerned with the question of whether degrees of belief can figure in reasoning processes that are executed by humans. It is generally accepted that outright beliefs and intentions can be part of reasoning processes, but the role of degrees of belief remains unclear. The literature on subjective Bayesianism, which seems to be the natural place to look for discussions of the role of degrees of belief in reasoning, does not address the question of whether degrees of belief play a role in real agents’ reasoning processes. On the other hand, the philosophical literature on reasoning, which relies much less heavily on idealizing assumptions about reasoners than Bayesianism, is almost exclusively concerned with outright belief. One possible explanation for why no philosopher has yet developed an account of reasoning with degrees of belief is that reasoning with degrees of belief is not possible for humans. In this paper, I will consider three arguments for this claim. I will show why these arguments are flawed, and conclude that, at least as far as these arguments are concerned, it seems like there is no good reason why the topic of reasoning with degrees of belief has received so little attention.

Keywords

Reasoning Degrees of belief Harman Probability 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Boghossian, P. (2011) Reasons and Reasoning. Presented at the 2011 Meeting of the APA Pacific Division.Google Scholar
  2. Broome, J. (2013). Rationality through reasoning. Oxford: Blackwell. (Page numbers refer to the 2009 manuscript version)Google Scholar
  3. Christensen D. (2004) Putting logic in its place. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Evans J. (2008) Dual-processing accounts of reasoning, judgment, and social cognition. Annual Review of Psychology 59: 255–278CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Evans J., Over D. (1996) Rationality and reasoning. Psychology Press, HoveGoogle Scholar
  6. Frankish K. (2004) Mind and supermind. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, MACrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Frankish K. (2009) Systems and levels: Dual-system theories and the personal–subpersonal distinction. In: Evans J., Frankish K. (eds) Two minds: Dual processes and beyond. Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp 89–107CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Gilovich, T., Griffin, D., Kahnemann, D. (eds) (2002) Heuristics and biases. The psychology of intuitive judgment. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  9. Grice P. (2001) Aspects of reason. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Harman G. (1986) Change in view. MIT Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  11. Howson C., Urbach P. (2006) Scientific reasoning. The Bayesian approach (3rd ed.). Open Court, ChicagoGoogle Scholar
  12. Kahnemann, D., Slovic, P., Tversky, A. (eds) (1982) Judgments under uncertainty: Heuristics and biases. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  13. Kirsh, D. (2003). Implicit and explicit representation. In Nadel, L. (Ed), Encyclopedia of cognitive science (pp. 478–481). London: Macmillan publishers.Google Scholar
  14. Oaksford M., Chater N. (2007) Bayesian rationality. Oxford University Press, OxfordCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Parsons L. M., Osherson D. (2001) New evidence for distinct right and left brain systems for deductive versus probabilistic reasoning. Cerebral Cortex 11(10): 954–965CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Raz J. (2010) Reason, reasons, and normativity. In: Shafer-Landau R. (eds) Oxford studies in metaethics. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  17. Ross, J. (2006). Acceptance and practical reason. Doctoral Dissertation, Rutgers University.Google Scholar
  18. Schwitzgebel, E. (2010). Belief. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy (Winter 2010 Edition). http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2010/entries/belief/.
  19. Sloman S. (1996) The empirical case for two systems of reasoning. Psychological Bulletin 119(1): 3–22CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Streumer B. (2007) Inferential and non-inferential reasoning. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research LXXIV(1): 1–29CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Walker A. F. (1985) An occurrent theory of practical and theoretical reasoning. Philosophical Studies 48: 199–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Wedgwood R. (2006) The normative force of reasoning. Noûs 40(4): 660–686CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Zhao J., Shah A. K., Osherson D. (2009) On the provenance of judgments of conditional probability. Cognition 113: 26–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

Personalised recommendations