Monday, 19 June 2000

From "The Mind Doesn't Work That Way"

By Jerry Fodor.

I don't mean to go on about this, but it's a widely advertised piece of neo-Darwinist anti-intellectualism (see, e.g. Patricia Churchland 1987) that "looked at from an evolutionary point of view, the principal function of the nervous systems is to get the body parts where they should be in order that the organism may survive. . . . Truth, whatever that is, definitely takes the hindmost." The consequence has been a long-standing alliance between Psychological Darwinism and Pragmatism (see, e.g., Dewey 1922), all of which us Enlightenment Rationalists find simply appalling. To repeat: there is nothing in the "evolutionary," or the "biological," or the "scientific" worldview that shows, or even suggests, that the proper function of cognition is other than the fixation of true beliefs. This characterization of the (alleged) proper function of, "domain general" on the face of it. So Cosmides and Tooby can't have the premise that "there is no domain-independent criterion of [cognitive] success or failure" for free; they need to argue for it.

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