The conditional, if...then, is probably the most important term in natural language and forms the core of systems of logic and mental representation. It occurs in all human languages and allows people to express their knowledge of the causal or law-like structure of the world and of others' behaviour, e.g., if you turn the key the car starts, if John walks the dog he stops for a pint of beer; to make promises, e.g., if you cook tonight, I'll wash up all week; to
regulate behaviour, e.g., if you are drinking beer, you must be over 18 years of age; to suggest what would have happened had things been different, e.g., if the match had been dry it would have lit, among many other possible uses. The way in which the conditional is modelled also determines the core of
most logical systems. Unsurprisingly, it is also the most researched expression in the psychology of human reasoning.
Cognition and Conditionals is the first volume for over 20 years (On Conditionals, 1986, CUP) that brings together recent developments in the cognitive science and psychology of conditional reasoning. Over the last 10 to 15 years, research on conditionals has come to dominate the psychology of reasoning providing a rich seam of results that have created new theoretical possibilities. This book shows how these developments have led researchers to view people's conditional reasoning behaviour
more as succesful probabilistic reasoning rather than as errorful logical reasoning. It shows how the multifarious, and apparently competing, theoretical positions developed over the last 50 years in this area - mental logics, mental models, heuristic approaches, dual process theory, and probabilistic
approaches-have responded to these insights. Its organisation reflects the view that an integrative approach is emerging that may need to exploit aspects of all these theoretical positions to explain the rich and complex phenomenon of reasoning with conditionals. It includes an introductory chapter relating the development of the psychology of reasoning to developments in the logic and semantics of the conditional. It also includes chapters by many of the leading figures in this field.
Cognition and Conditionals will be a valuable resource for cognitive scientists, psychologists and philosophers interested how people actually reason with conditionals.
Mike Oaksford is Professor of Psychology and Head of School at Birkbeck College London. He was a PhD student and subsequently a Research Fellow at the Centre for Cognitive Science, University of Edinburgh. He was then a lecturer at the University of Wales, Bangor, and a senior lecturer at the University of Warwick, before moving to Cardiff University in 1996 as Professor of Experimental Psychology, a post he held until 2005 when he moved to Birkbeck College,
University of London. He has authored or edited seven books (four with OUP) and over 100 articles. His research interests are in the area of human reasoning and argumentation. In particular, with Nick Chater and Ulrike Hahn, he has been developing a Bayesian probabilistic approach to classical deductive
reasoning tasks and to the classical fallacies of informal argumentation. He also studies the way the emotions interact with reasoning and decision making processes.
Nick Chater is Professor of Cognitive and Decision Sciences at University College London. He was a PhD student at the Centre for Cognitive Science, University of Edinburgh. He was then a lecturer at University of College London, before moving to lectureships at Edinburgh and then at Oxford. In 1996 he moved to Warwick University as Professor of Psychology, a post he held until 2005 when he moved back to University College London. He has authored or edited seven books (three with OUP) and over
one hundred and fifty scientific publications in psychology, philosophy, psycholinguistics, and cognitive science. His research explores formal models of inference, choice, and language.