How we Solve Problems

Philip N. Johnson-Laird

in How We Reason

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780199551330
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191701580 | DOI:
How we Solve Problems

Show Summary Details


This chapter reviews a theory of how reasoning, both deductive and abductive, helps in solving problems. It also describes various types of creative process. A key assumption of the proposed theory is that the system for solving problems can shift knowledge from the evaluative stage of the process to the generative stage. Hence, knowledge that is deduced about a tactical move can shift so that it starts to constrain our generation of moves — progression towards a neo-Lamarckian process. Moreover, some examples that support this theory are examined. A natural strategy that is adopted for solving problems is to work forwards from the initial state towards a solution, restrained by whatever knowledge that humans have. The theory of how problems are solved contains a mechanism that would give rise to insight. The precondition for this is that the current constraints that the generative procedure uses fail to solve the problem.

Keywords: reasoning; theory; problem solving; deduction; abduction

Chapter.  6928 words.  Illustrated.

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.