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Cognitive pluralism

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-P008-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2023
Retrieved June 15, 2024, from

Article Summary

Cognitive pluralism refers to the very different ways in which people engage in cognitive activity in general, and reasoning in particular. Cognitive pluralism does not focus upon differences in belief systems or cultural attitudes; instead, it refers to the different ways in which cognitive agents process information, engage in problem solving and form and update their beliefs. It is about differences in how people think, not what they think (though these two are often closely related).

There are a variety of ways in which cognitive pluralism can be articulated. Broadly speaking, it is commonly divided into the categories of descriptive pluralism and prescriptive or normative pluralism. Descriptive pluralism involves the empirical claim that differences in reasoning strategies exist between different cognitive agents or systems, while normative pluralism involves the evaluative claim that there are different good ways to go about the business of reasoning. Both sorts of pluralism can be contrasted with cognitive monisms that claim, descriptively, there is little diversity in reasoning strategies, or, prescriptively, that only one type of reasoning strategy is optimal. As might be expected, the difference between pluralistic and monistic views varies along a continuum, depending upon the amount of pluralism promoted or denied.

Citing this article:
Ramsey, William. Cognitive pluralism, 2023, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-P008-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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