The limits of cognitive theory in anthropology

Philosophical Explorations 7 (3):281 – 297 (2004)
The cognitive revolution in psychology was a significant advance in our thinking about the mind. Philosophers and social scientists have looked to the cognitive sciences with the hope that the social world will yield to similar explanatory strategies. Dan Sperber has argued for a programme that would conceptualize the entire domain of anthropological theory in cognitive terms. Sperber's 'epidemiology' specifically excludes interpretive, structuralist and functionalist theories. This essay evaluates Sperber's epidemiological approach to anthropological theory. It argues that as a programme for anthropological theorizing, Sperber's epidemiology could not be empirically grounded. Cognitive explanations depend on prior interpretations. While interpretation is a kind of theorizing, it cannot be assimilated to cognitive explanation. The essay concludes by sketching an explanatory coherence framework in which ethnographic interpretation and cognitive explanation are seen as parts of a unified body of anthropological theorizing.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1080/1386979042000258367
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history
Request removal from index
Download options
Our Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 27,606
Through your library
References found in this work BETA
Relevance.D. Sperber & D. Wilson - 1995 - Blackwell.
Inference to the Best Explanation.Peter Lipton - 2004 - Routledge/Taylor and Francis Group.
Change in View.Gilbert Harman - 1986 - MIT Press.
Judgement and Justification.William G. Lycan - 1988 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 8 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

203 ( #20,065 of 2,168,616 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #127,318 of 2,168,616 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.

Other forums