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Research Article

What Do Transitive Inference and Class Inclusion Have in Common? Categorical (Co)Products and Cognitive Development

  • Steven Phillips mail,

    steve@ni.aist.go.jp

    Affiliation: Neuroscience Research Institute, National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), Tsukuba, Ibaraki, Japan

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  • William H. Wilson,

    Affiliation: School of Computer Science and Engineering, The University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

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  • Graeme S. Halford

    Affiliation: School of Psychology, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

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  • Published: December 11, 2009
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1000599

Reader Comments (2)

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transitive inference versus class inclusion

Posted by steven1 on 21 Jan 2010 at 12:18 GMT

The following comment was posted on behalf of Steven A. Sloman:

The proposed framework is inspired, elegant, and compelling in many ways. It is sufficiently powerful to deserve more detailed empirical testing. One question that arises is how it deals with differences between transitive inference and class inclusion among adults. Transitive inference is easy for adults, in fact so easy that it is sometimes overgeneralized (e.g., Goldvarg & Johnson-Laird, 2001, found that adults concluded from A prevents B and B prevents C that A prevents C). In contrast, class inclusion is often neglected by adults (e.g., Sloman, 1998, found that people did not conclude that every individual rose must have a property when told that every individual flower had the property; see also Hampton, 1982). I don't see how the proposed theory accounts for this rather massive difference in people's sensitivity to the inference rules.

Goldvarg, E., & Johnson-Laird, P. (2001). Naive causality: A mental model theory of causal meaning and reasoning. Cognitive Science, 25, 565-610.

Hampton, J. A. (1982). A demonstration of intransitivity in natural categories. Cognition, 12, 151-164.

Sloman, S. A.. (1998). Categorical inference is not a tree: The myth of inheritance hierarchies. Cognitive Psychology, 35, 1-33.

No competing interests declared.