What we reason about and why
DOI link for What we reason about and why
What we reason about and why book
One of the more distinctive characteristics of evolutionary approaches to understanding human reasoning (or, indeed, to understanding the human mind in general) is its insistence on domain speciﬁcity. That is, evolutionary accounts of human reasoning propose that the vast bulk of reasoning that people normally engage in is done by cognitive processes that are specialized to work within a speciﬁc topic area (i.e., domain). The best known of these accounts is the work by Cosmides and Tooby (1989, 1992), that focuses on reasoning about social exchanges. A social exchange, brieﬂy, is an exchange between two individuals that has the form of “If you take Beneﬁt X, then you must pay Cost Y” – for example, “If you take this book, then you pay the cashier $20”. A violation of this arrangement (“cheating”) occurs when someone takes a beneﬁt without paying the reciprocal cost (e.g., taking this book without paying for it), and this is a violation regardless of whether or not it is incorrect according to standards such as deductive logic. Other reasoning domains, involving other specialized cognitive processes, have been similarly proposed for reasoning about threats, precautions, social dominance hierarchies, social group memberships, objects, physical causality, artifacts, language, and mental states.