Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Is Tillers Part of a French Revolution?

Is Tillers on the edge of the cusp of a French revolution, an epistemological revolution with American rivulets?

I sincerely hope not!

Just four days after giving a talk called A Rube Goldberg Approach to Factual Inference in Legal Settings, I awakened to a New York Times report that some French cognitive scientists are propounding what they call an "argumentative" theory of reasoning, according to which "lack of logic and other supposed flaws that pollute the stream of reason are instead social adaptations that enable one group to persuade (and defeat) another." In the course of describing this theory the article refers some theorists' views that the brain is a conglomerate of Rube Goldberg contraptions.

I have been musing for some time about the mind's conscious inference procedures as a collection of devices that resembles a Rube Goldberg process. But I would like to say here & now that my take on the seemingly irrational nature of the mind's mechanisms differs sharply from some of the views reported in the newspaper article:
First, I reject an unadulterated consensus theory of truth. (We have had enough of that sort of thing.)
Second, I deny that the evidence marshaling methods I discuss and their interaction are irrational. I say that the interaction of those methods is to a substantial extent mysterious (which is a different claim), that the subconscious workings of the brain determine the interactions of such conscious evidence marshaling strategies, that these non-explicit mental operations connecting the explicit evidence marshaling methods to each other have a lot of rationality to them, and that tools can and should be devised that make some of these tacit mental operations become more explicit and perhaps work better than they presently do.

The dynamic evidence page

It's here: the law of evidence on Spindle Law. See also this post and this post.

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