
Abstract 
This paper outlines the theory of reasoning based on mental models, and then shows how this theory might be extended to deal with probabilistic thinking. The same explanatory framework accommodates deduction and induction: there are both deductive and inductive inferences that yield probabilistic conclusions. The framework yields a theoretical conception of strength of inference, that is, a theory of what the strength of an inference is objectively: it equals the proportion of possible states of affairs consistent with the premises in which the conclusion is true, that is, the probability that the conclusion is true given that the premises are true. Since there are infinitely many possible states of affairs consistent with any set of premises, the paper then characterizes how individuals estimate the strength of an argument. They construct mental models, which each correspond to an infinite set of possibilities (or, in some cases, a finite set of infinite sets of possibilities). The construction of models is guided by knowledge and beliefs, including lay conceptions of such matters as the “law of large numbers”. The paper illustrates how this theory can account for phenomena of probabilistic reasoning. 
