Inference to the Best Decision

Patricia Smith Churchland

in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Neuroscience

Published in print July 2009 | ISBN: 9780195304787
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199891993 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Inference to the Best Decision

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This article examines the concept of the so-called inference to the best decision in relation to neurobiology. It explains that the idea of inference to the best decision, often referred to by philosophers as abduction, is also known as in experimental psychology as case-based reasoning. The article discusses the tension that has developed between the sanctity of the “ought/is” dogma and what is known about the neurobiology of social behavior and suggests that the cognitive process that we loosely call inference to the best decision is a solution to this tension. It also expresses optimism that psychology and neuroscience will eventually uncover at least the general principles concerning how neural networks perform these functions and that the two domains of explaining and deciding will have much in common.

Keywords: inference; decision; neurobiology; abduction; case-based reasoning; social behavior; cognitive process; psychology; neuroscience; neural networks

Article.  5224 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Mind ; Philosophy of Mathematics and Logic

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