David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Psychology 8 (4):353 – 363 (1995)
Naturalistic epistemologists frequently assume that their aim is to identify generalities (i.e. general laws) about the effectiveness of particular reasoning processes and methods. This paper argues that the search for this kind of generality fails. Work that has been done thus far to identify generalities (e.g. by Goldman, Kitcher and Thagard) overlooks both the complexity of reasoning and the relativity of assessments to particular contexts (domain, stage and goal of inquiry). Examples of human reasoning which show both complexity and contextuality are given. The paper concludes with a discussion of the kind of multivariate model of reasoning that naturalistic epistemologists can use to evaluate processes and methods for specific domains.
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