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Description: No present theory explains the inferences people draw about the real world when reasoning about “bouletic” relations, i.e., predicates that express desires, such as 'want' in Lee wants to be in love. Linguistic accounts of 'want' define it in terms of a relation to a desirer’s beliefs, and how its complement is deemed desirable. In contrast, we describe a new model-based theory that posits that by default, desire predicates such as 'want' contrast desires against facts. In particular, 'A wants P' implies by default that P is not the case, because you cannot want what is already true. On further deliberation, reasoners may infer that A believes, but does not know for certain, that P is not the case. The theory makes several empirical predictions about how people interpret, assess the consistency of, and draw conclusions from desire predicates like 'want'. Seven experiments tested and validated the theory’s central predictions. We assess the theory in light of recent proposals of desire predicates.

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A theory of bouletic reasoning

No present theory explains or models the inferences people draw about the real world when reasoning about “bouletic” relations, i.e., predicates that ...

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