Reflective intuition and the Copi card problem

Terence Horgan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In the 1970’s, a controversy arose about a probability problem posed by Irving Copi. One side argued that a common spontaneous intuition about the problem is correct; the other side argued that this intuition is mistaken. Here, I argue (1) that the naïve intuition yields the correct answer, but accidentally and for a wrong reason; (2) that a more reflective intuition yields a wrong answer, and hence, is also mistaken; and (3) that an even more reflective intuition yields the correct answer for a correct reason. This warrants what I call optimistic fallibilism concerning intuitions about probability: although intuition is certainly prone to error in this domain, intuition has the capacity for self-correction. A naïve intuition that is mistaken can be replaced by a distinct, reflective intuition; and a reflective intuition that is mistaken can be replaced by another reflective intuition–with the process ultimately yielding a sound intuition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-344
Number of pages18
JournalPhilosophical Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021


  • Copi
  • Intuition
  • conditionalization
  • credence
  • probability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Philosophy


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