Abstract: The suppression of logically valid inferences by the content or context of premises can be seen as an instance of knowledge having a detrimental influence on reasoning. Although Henle (1962) has claimed that invalid deductions are due to additional premises drawn from background knowledge, current research on content effects ignores the methodological implications of this claim. Elaborating on the suppression effect in conditional reasoning (Byrne, 1989), we present a knowledge-based approach that makes relevant features of background knowledge an integral part of the analysis. After identifying the sufficiency and necessity of conditions as the type of knowledge mediating the effect, we construct and validate task materials independently from any assessment of reasoning (Experiment 1). We then replicate and extend suppression effects in syllogism tasks (Experiment 2) and show that participants are able to couch their background knowledge in formally correct wordings (Experiment 3).
Keywords: Logic, thinking and reasoning, conditional syllogisms, effects of knowledge, content, context.
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