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The Quantum Mind: Alternative Ways of Reasoning with Uncertainty

de Freitas, E and Sinclair, N (2018) The Quantum Mind: Alternative Ways of Reasoning with Uncertainty. Canadian Journal of Science, Mathematics and Technology Education, 18 (3). pp. 271-283. ISSN 1492-6156


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© 2018, Ontario Institute for Educational Studies (OISE). Human reasoning about and with uncertainty is often at odds with the principles of classical probability. Order effects, conjunction biases, and sure-thing inclinations suggest that an entirely different set of probability axioms could be developed and indeed may be needed to describe such habits. Recent work in diverse fields, including cognitive science, economics, and information theory, explores alternative approaches to decision theory. This work considers more expansive theories of reasoning with uncertainty while continuing to recognize the value of classical probability. In this paper, we discuss one such alternative approach, called quantum probability, and explore its applications within decision theory. Quantum probability is designed to formalize uncertainty as an ontological feature of the state of affairs, offering a mathematical model for entanglement, de/coherence, and interference, which are all concepts with unique onto-epistemological relevance for social theorists working in new and trans-materialisms. In this paper, we suggest that this work be considered part of the quantum turn in the social sciences and humanities. Our aim is to explore different models and formalizations of decision theory that attend to the situatedness of judgment. We suggest that the alternative models of reasoning explored in this article might be better suited to queries about entangled mathematical concepts and, thus, be helpful in rethinking both curriculum and learning theory.

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