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Common Sense Reasoning about Parts and Wholes


Andrea Schalley


Pages 152 - 160



The analysis of types of part-whole relations in common sense reasoning is focused on the question how people in their everyday reasoning conceptualize and categorize partwhole relationships. This question is related to, but as such distinct from, the diversity of part-whole relationships defined by formal mereological systems. By the same token, the question is not which or how different types of part-whole relations are explicitly coded linguistically (e.g., grammatically or lexically) across languages. Of course, language is an important part of human behaviour and hence linguistic coding does certainly provide us with information about common-sense reasoning of partwhole relations. But one should not assume a one-to-one mapping between linguistic coding and conceptualisation of part-whole relational types. In addition to linguistics, there are other sources of information about common-sense reasoning of part-whole relations. These can be found in disciplines such as psychology, knowledge representation and artificial intelligence, fields of investigation that are concerned with the behaviour of animate and artificial agents. Yet, research on part-whole relations in common-sense reasoning has primarily been based on inferential intuitions of the researchers. There is a definite desideratum of empirical investigations in this area.




1Department of Language, Literature and Intercultural Studies, Karlstad University



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