Causes and Obligations

Philip N. Johnson-Laird

in How We Reason

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199551330
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191701580 | DOI:
Causes and Obligations

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This chapter clarifies what causal and deontic propositions mean in order to explore reasoning with them. The first half of the chapter looks at causes, which can be actions, events, or mere states of affairs — as Benjamin Franklin wrote, ‘for want of a nail the shoe was lost’. The second half of the chapter looks at obligations, which are concerned with the possible and permissible states of affairs. Logicians have developed deontic logics based on the two central concepts of obligation and permissibility. The machinery for reasoning about causation and obligation appears to be the same as the machinery for reasoning about any other matters.

Keywords: reasoning; causal proposition; deontic proposition; causes; obligations

Chapter.  8490 words. 

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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