How We Reason


Good reasoning can lead to success; bad reasoning can lead to catastrophe. Yet, it's not obvious how we reason, and why we make mistakes. This new book by one of the pioneers of the field, Philip Johnson-Laird, looks at the mental processes that underlie our reasoning. It provides the most accessible account yet of the science of reasoning.

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Good reasoning can lead to success; bad reasoning can lead to catastrophe. Yet, it's not obvious how we reason, and why we make mistakes. This new book by one of the pioneers of the field, Philip Johnson-Laird, looks at the mental processes that underlie our reasoning. It provides the most accessible account yet of the science of reasoning.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

UNEDITED UK REVIEW: "No cognitive scientist has thought more deeply about human reasoning than Philip Johnson-Laird. In an amazingly comprehensive volume, he presents the fruits of a lifetime of experimentation and reflection. "--Howard Gardner, author of 'The Mind's New Science"

UNEDITED UK REVIEW: "'How We Reason' is the essential guide for anyone who wants to understand the human mind. Phil Johnson-Laird is both erudite and entertaining and his prose sparkles with wit and verve. This book paints a more complete picture of human thought than any other on inference. I couldn't put it down. "--Ruth M.J. Byrne Vice Provost, Trinity College Dublin, University of Dublin, Ireland, and Professor of Cognitive Science, School of Psychology and Institute of Neuroscience, Trinity College Dublin

UNEDITED UK REVIEW: "Philip Johnson-Laird's Mental Model Theory owes its outstanding impact on the psychology of reasoning to its unique breadth, insightfulness, and creativity. In 'How we Reason', Johnson-Laird has achieved the feat of presenting this challenging view of human thinking in a simple and yet comprehensive way, with concrete examples and elegant explanations. This highly readable book deserves a wide audience. "--Dan Sperber, Director of Research, CNRS, Paris

"Johnson-Laird gives fascinating accounts of some major examples of scientific reasoning, such as the Wright brothers' designing of the first successful airplane [and] how the codes underlying the Nazi Enigma machine were broken. "--Science

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199551330
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/15/2009
  • Pages: 584
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Phil Johnson-Laird was born in Yorkshire, England, in 1936. He left school at the age of 15 and spent ten years in a variety of occupations until he went to University College, London to read psychology. He later gained his Ph.D. there under the supervision of Peter Wason, and he joined the faculty in 1966. In 1971, he was a visiting member of the Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, where he began a collaboration with George A. Miller. Subsequently, he held positions at the University of Sussex (1973-1981) and at the Medical Research Council's Applied Psychology Unit (1981-1989) in Cambridge, where he was also a Fellow of Darwin College. He returned to Princeton in 1989 to be a member of the faculty at the University, where he is the Stuart Professor of Psychology. His research concerns thinking, emotions, creativity, and music.

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Table of Contents

1. Introduction
Part I - The World in our Conscious Minds
2. Icons and Images
3. Models of Possibilities: From Conjuring Tricks to Disasters
Part II - The World in our Unconscious Minds
4. Mental Architecture and the Unconscious
5. Intuitions and Unconscious Reasoning
6. Emotions as Inferences
7. Reasoning in Psychological Illnesses
Part III - How We Make Deductions
8. Only Connections
9. I'm my own Grandpa: Reasoning About Identities and Other Relations
10. Syllogisms and Reasoning about Properties
11. Isn't Everyone an Optimist? The Case of Complex Reasoning
Part IV - How We Make Inductions
12. Modulation: A Step Towards Induction
13. Knowledge and Inductions
14. Sherlock Holmes's Method: Abduction
15. The Balance of Probabilities
Part V - What Makes us Rational
16. Counterexamples
17. Truths, Lies, and the Higher Reasoning
Part VI - How We Develop our Ability to Reason
18. On Development
19. Strategies and Cultures
20. How We can Improve our Reasoning
Part VII - Knowledge, Beliefs, and Problems
21. The Puzzles of If
22. Causes and Obligations
23. Beliefs, Heresies, and Changes in Mind
24. How we Solve Problems
Part VIII - Expert Reasoning in Technology, Logic, and Science
25. Flying Bicycles: How the Wright Brothers Invented the Airplane
26. Unwrapping an Enigma
27. On the Mode of the Communication of Cholera
28. How we Reason

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