Modular vs. diagrammatic reasoning: The pragmatist side of human understanding

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Mercier and Sperber (MS) have ventured to undermine an age-old assumption in logic, namely the presence of premise-conclusion structures, in favor of two novel claims: that reasoning is an evolutionary product of a reason-intuiting module in the mind, and that theories of logic teach next to nothing about the mechanisms of how inferences are drawn in that module. The present paper begs to differ: logic is indispensable in formulating conceptions of cognitive elements of reasoning, and MS is no less exempt from taking notice of premise-conclusion structures than the commonplace theories of reasoning are. Our counterclaim is realized in terms of diagrammatic reasoning dating back to Charles Peirce’s pragmaticism. The upshot is that pragmatist logic restores the premise-conclusion structures in argumentation, supplants reason-intuition module with logical content, and validates good reasoning as an indispensable resource evident to all rational minds that claim ownership of reason and understanding.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)111–134
Number of pages24
JournalPragmatics and Cognition
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

User-Defined Keywords

  • inference
  • logical diagrams
  • logical graphs
  • Mercier & Sperber
  • modular mind
  • Peirce
  • pragmaticism
  • reasoning


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