The case for rules in reasoning


Authors: 
Smith, E. E., Langston, C., & Nisbett, R. E.
Category: 
Volume: 
16
Pages: 
Jan-40
Year: 
1992
Publisher: 
Cognitive Science
Abstract: 

A number of theoretical positions in psychology - including variants of case-based reasoning, instance-based analogy, and connectionist models - maintain that abstract rules are not involved in human reasoning, or at best play a minor role. Other views hold that the use of abstract rules is a core aspect of human reasoning. We propose eight criteria for determining whether or not people use abstract rules in reasoning, and examine evidence relevant to each criterion for several rule systems. We argue that there is substantial evidence that several different inferential rules, including modus ponens, contractual rules, causal rules, and the law of large numbers, are used in solving everyday problems. We discuss the implications for various theoretical positions and consider hybrid mechanisms that combine aspects of instance and rule models.