The Reasoner is an open-access monthly digest “highlighting exciting new research on reasoning, inference and method broadly construed. It is interdisciplinary, covering research in, e.g., philosophy, logic, AI, statistics, cognitive science, law, psychology, mathematics and the sciences.” It provides a real service to the community in the form of short reports of conferences and CFPs. Moreover, it publishes very short research pieces, and every issue contains an interview with renowned reasoning-related researchers. I suppose the interviews are my favorite items in The Reasoner: some of those who have been recently interviewed are Stephen Read, Wilfrid Hodges, Haim Gaifman, Greg Restall, to name but a few. (We like interviews here at NewAPPS!)
As far as I can tell, the number of female interviewees is very low, in fact it may well be 0 – time to do something about it! As a matter of fact, I have recently joined the editorial board of The Reasoner, but I’m afraid I will not be contributing to a better gender balance among interviewees just yet, as I will be interviewing Keith Stenning.
Anyway, in preparation for my interview with Stenning, I was re-reading some of the previous interviews, and found the following delightful passage by Wilfrid Hodges (in the November 2011 issue):
Incidentally I have no patience at all with the view of Kant, followed by Frege and some modern writers, that logic studies how we ought to think and psychology studies how we do think. A logician can tell you that if you reason by rule X, then you will sometimes ﬁnd yourself deducing false conclusions from true premises. It does follow that if you want never to deduce false conclusions from true premises, you ought not to use rule X. So for example you ought not to use rule X in a research paper in pure mathematics. But in real life, where time and memory are often limited and premises are often dubious in one way or another, rule X might be for practical purposes exactly what you need. One of the major achievements of logic of the last ﬁfty years is to start taking seriously the constraints under which we reason, and the different aims that we can have in our reasoning. This expansion of logic gives many openings for collaboration between logicians and cognitivists.
I couldn’t agree more, and have argued at different occasions that the view of logic as having normative import for thought is entirely misguided. It is a relic of Kantian transcendental idealism that most philosophers still hold on to, but usually somewhat uncritically. What Hodges is referring to in “one of the major achievements of logic of the last ﬁfty years is to start taking seriously the constraints under which we reason, and the different aims that we can have in our reasoning” is probably developments in computer science and artificial intelligence, as philosophers themselves (with honorable exceptions such as Gilbert Harman) remain by and large oblivious to the issue of constraints on reasoning. It is about time that we catch up!
(By this I do not mean to imply that logic has no normative import whatsoever: I'm questioning the idea that it has normative import specifically for thought. I do think that there is something deeply normative about logic, but it has to do with multi-agent, public sphere practices of argumentation rather than with mono-agent, private sphere practices of thinking. But that's a topic for a different occasion.)