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The questionable utility of “cognitive ability” in explaining cognitive illusions

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 April 2001

Ralph Hertwig
Max Planck Institute for Human Development, 14195 Berlin,


The notion of “cognitive ability” leads to paradoxical conclusions when invoked to explain Inhelder and Piaget's research on class inclusion reasoning and research on the inclusion rule in the heuristics-and-biases program. The vague distinction between associative and rule-based reasoning overlooks the human capacity for semantic and pragmatic inferences, and consequently, makes intelligent inferences look like reasoning errors.

Open Peer Commentary
© 2000 Cambridge University Press

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