A stitchwork quilt: Or how I learned to stop worrying and love cognitive relativism

Philosophical Psychology 5 (4):391 – 410 (1992)
The work of cognitive psychologists, philosophical naturalists, post-modernists, and other such epistemic subversives conspires to endanger the well being of traditional analytic epistemology. Stephen Stich ( et tu Stich) has contributed his design for epistemology's coffin. I look hard at his proposed radical revision of epistemology. The ostensible target of Stich's analysis is the traditional enterprise of analytic epistemology. It is, however, the conceptual pillars that underpin both the traditional analytic and naturalist epistemologies that are the primary focus. It is a conceptual domain neutral to the priorists and naturalists which Stich calls normative cognitive monism . Normative cognitive monism is the view that there is a unique system of cognitive processes that people should use. The point of Stich's analytical exercise is to disabuse us of the belief that there is such a unique and global set of standards by which cognitive performance is to be evaluated. He argues that all the evidence, both empirical and conceptual, leads away from this ultimately chauvinistic view and converges on normative cognitive pluralism which is the denial of monism. The same evidence that informs normative cognitive monism confirms normative cognitive pluralism. The empirical evidence is provided by the results of celebrated experiments on reasoning, or as Stich calls it, cognitive performance. The conceptual evidence derives from the failure of naturalistic accounts of intentional content. Stich's (1983) derisive view of theories of intentional content adumbrated in From Folk Psychology to Cognitive Science is now the linchpin of his pragmatic theory of cognitive evaluation.
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DOI 10.1080/09515089208573070
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