Reasoning with quantifiers

Cognition 86 (3):223--251 (2003)
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Abstract

In the semantics of natural language, quantification may have received more attention than any other subject, and one of the main topics in psychological studies on deductive reasoning is syllogistic inference, which is just a restricted form of reasoning with quantifiers. But thus far the semantical and psychological enterprises have remained disconnected. This paper aims to show how our understanding of syllogistic reasoning may benefit from semantical research on quantification. I present a very simple logic that pivots on the monotonicity properties of quantified statements - properties that are known to be crucial not only to quantification but to a much wider range of semantical phenomena. This logic is shown to account for the experimental evidence available in the literature as well as for the data from a new experiment with cardinal quantifiers ("at least n" and "at most n"), which cannot be explained by any other theory of syllogistic reasoning

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Bart Geurts
Radboud University Nijmegen