Brain, mind, man, and society: Naturalism with a human face

In D. Andler, M. Okada & I. Watanabe (eds.), Reasoning and Cognition. 77--84 (2006)
When scientists are at work, they are busy ‘naturalizing’ their domain. This applies, without qualification, to natural scientists. In the sciences of man (which I will understand in the broadest sense, as including the social sciences), the issue is moot. This raises a problem for cognitive scientists, a vast majority of whom think of themselves as natural scientists. Yet theirs, to a large extent, is a science of man. Cognitive scientists are, it would seem, in the business of naturalizing man, and while this, to them, is unproblematic, it raises considerable difficulties to many, whether philosophers or social scientists of antinaturalist persuasion, or lay people wondering what the ultimate goals of cognitive science are and how far it should be expected to achieve these goals. Among his many duties, the philosopher of cognitive science, part of whose job is to clarify assumptions made, concepts used, methods deployed, at all levels of the field, and to try and situate the enterprise within the wider context, has the legitimate worry that misunderstandings, both within and outside cognitive science, might durably prevent the articulation of its viewpoint with those elaborated by the other sciences of man. The philosopher is thus intent on bringing forth an understanding of the enterprise of cognitive science, as free as possible of the ‘idols of the tribe’ (the field’s own self-aggrandizing prejudices) and of the ‘idols of the marketplace’ (the allegations of ‘tunnel vision’ and ‘reductionism’).
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