Truth, Lies, and the Higher Reasoning

Philip N. Johnson-Laird

in How We Reason

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199551330
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191701580 | DOI:
Truth, Lies, and the Higher Reasoning

Show Summary Details


This chapter describes truth, lies, and higher reasoning. Higher reasoning calls for a higher-level ability to deal with truth and falsity. This ability is crucial for the development of formal logic as an intellectual discipline because it enables one to relate formal patterns to matters of truth and falsity. One of the unsung abilities of participants in psychological experiments is that they can understand the experimenter's instructions about what they are supposed to do, and (usually) figure out how to do it. The chapter states that a theory of higher reasoning should provide some insight into its own development. The model theory requires a capacity to think about the truth and falsity of premises, and indirect reflections of them in the guise of knights and knaves, which in turn depends on an ability to reflect about problems and processes of thought. Cognitive scientists can use this ability to help construct theories of reasoning. Logicians likewise use the same component of thinking in order to create formal calculi, and to reflect on the relations between these calculi and their meanings.

Keywords: higher reasoning; truth; falsity; model theory; calculi

Chapter.  6240 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.