Justification and the Psychology of Human Reasoning

Stephen Stich, Richard E. Nisbett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter makes an extended case for the philosophical relevance of recent empirical work on reasoning. It focuses on the implications of this work for an analysis of justification of inductive procedures. It argues that Nelson Goodman's elegant and enormously influential attempt to "dissolve" the problem of induction is seriously flawed. At the root of the difficulty is the fact that Goodman makes tacit assumptions about the ways in which people actually infer. These are empirical assumptions, and recent studies of inference indicate that the assumptions are false. This problem the burden of the first section of the chapter. The second section attempts to repair the damage. The trouble with Goodman's story about induction centers on his analysis of what we are saying when we say that a rule of inference is justified. The chapter then offers a new account of what is going on when people say that an inference or a rule of inference is (or is not) justified. In the' course of the analysis, the much neglected social component of justification and the role of expert authority in our cognitive lives are explored.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationCollected Papers, Volume 2
Subtitle of host publicationKnowledge, Rationality, and Morality, 1978-2010
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Electronic)9780199949823
ISBN (Print)9780199733477
StatePublished - Sep 20 2012

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


  • Expert authority
  • Inductive procedures
  • Inference
  • Justification
  • Nelson goodman
  • Reasoning


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