To Naturalize or Not to Naturalize? An Issue for Cognitive Science as Well as Anthropology

Topics in Cognitive Science 4 (3):413-419 (2012)
Several of Beller, Bender, and Medin’s (2012) issues are as relevant within cognitive science as between it and anthropology. Knowledge-rich human mental processes impose hermeneutic tasks, both on subjects and researchers. Psychology's current philosophy of science is ill suited to analyzing these: Its demand for ‘‘stimulus control’’ needs to give way to ‘‘negotiation of mutual interpretation.’’ Cognitive science has ways to address these issues, as does anthropology. An example from my own work is about how defeasible logics are mathematical models of some aspects of simple hermeneutic processes. They explain processing relative to databases of knowledge and belief—that is, content. A specific example is syllogistic reasoning, which raises issues of experimenters’ interpretations of subjects’ reasoning. Science, especially since the advent of understandings of computation, does not have to be reductive. How does this approach transfer onto anthropological topics? Recent cognitive science approaches to anthropological topics have taken a reductive stance in terms of modules. We end with some speculations about a different cognitive approach to, for example, religion
Keywords Interpretation  Knowledge‐rich processes  Defeasible logic  Reasoning  Anthropology
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DOI 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2012.01200.x
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