Agenda Relevance is the first volume in the authors' omnibus investigation of the logic of practical reasoning, under the collective title, A Practical Logic of Cognitive Systems. In this highly original approach, practical reasoning is identified as reasoning performed with comparatively few cognitive assets, including resources such as information, time and computational capacity. Unlike what is proposed in optimization models of human cognition, a practical reasoner lacks perfect information, boundless time and unconstrained access to computational complexity. The practical reasoner is therefore obliged to be a cognitive economizer and to achieve his cognitive ends with considerable efficiency. Accordingly, the practical reasoner avails himself of various scarce-resource compensation strategies. He also possesses neurocognitive traits that abet him in his reasoning tasks. Prominent among these is the practical agent's striking (though not perfect) adeptness at evading irrelevant information and staying on task. On the approach taken here, irrelevancies are impediments to the attainment of cognitive ends. Thus, in its most basic sense, relevant information is cognitively helpful information. Information can then be said to be relevant for a practical reasoner to the extent that it advances or closes some cognitive agenda of his. The book explores this idea with a conceptual detail and nuance not seen the standard semantic, probabilistic and pragmatic approaches to relevance; but wherever possible, the authors seek to integrate alternative conceptions rather than reject them outright. A further attraction of the agenda-relevance approach is the extent to which its principal conceptual findings lend themselves to technically

Table of Contents


I. Logic.

1. Introduction

2. Practical Logic
2.1 PLCS and Cognitive Systems
2.2 Practical Reasoning
2.3 Practical Agency
2.4 Practical Logics
2.4.1 The Method of Intuitions
2.5 Allied Disciplines
2.6 Psychologism
2.6.1 Issues in Cognitive Science

3. Logical Agents
3.1 Heuristics and Limitations
3.2 Three Problems
3.2.1 The Complexity Problem
3.2.2 The Approximation Problem
3.2.3 The Consequence Problem
3.2.4 Truth Conditions, Rules and State Conditions
3.2.5 Rules Redux
3.2.6 Logics for Down Below

4. Formal Pragmatics
4.1 Pragmatics
4.2 Theoretical Recalcitrance
4.3 Analysis

II. Conceptual Models for Relevance

5. Propositional Relevance
5.1 Introductory Remark
5.2 Propositional Relevance
5.3 Legal Relevance
5.4 Topical Relevance
5.5 Topical Relevance and Computation
5.6 Targets for a Theory of Relevance
5.7 Freeman and Cohen
5.7.1 Freeman
5.7.2 Cohen

6. Contextual Effects
6.1 Introductory Remarks
6.2 Contextual Effects
6.3 In The Head
6.4 Inconsistency Management
6.4.1 Bounded Rationality
6.5 Is Inconsistency Pervasive?
6.5.1 A Case in Point: Mechanizing Cognition
6.6 Further Difficulties
6.7 Reclaiming SW-Relevance?
6.8 The Grice Condition


No. of pages:
© 2003
North Holland
Print ISBN:
Electronic ISBN:


"This is the first jewel in a new and ambitious series."
Branislav Boricic (Belgrade). Mathematical Reviews, 2004. "...not only a ground-breaking study in the logic of practical reasoning, it is first-rate philosophy as well." -ZENTRALBLATT MATH