Biology and Philosophy

, Volume 10, Issue 1, pp 1–37

Logical reasoning and domain specificity

A critique of the social exchange theory of reasoning
  • Paul Sheldon Davies
  • James H. Fetzer
  • Thomas R. Foster
Article

Abstract

The social exchange theory of reasoning, which is championed by Leda Cosmides and John Tooby, falls under the general rubric “evolutionary psychology” and asserts that human reasoning is governed by content-dependent, domain-specific, evolutionarily-derived algorithms. According to Cosmides and Tooby, the presumptive existence of what they call “cheater-detection” algorithms disconfirms the claim that we reason via general-purpose mechanisms or via inductively acquired principles. We contend that the Cosmides/Tooby arguments in favor of domain-specific algorithms or evolutionarily-derived mechanisms fail and that the notion of a social exchange rule, which is central to their theory, is not correctly characterized. As a consequence, whether or not their conclusion is true cannot be established on the basis of the arguments they have presented.

Key words

Algorithms reasoning deduction induction domain-general reasoning cheater detection mechanisms 

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Sheldon Davies
    • 1
  • James H. Fetzer
    • 2
  • Thomas R. Foster
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of North CarolinaChapel HillU.S.A.
  2. 2.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of MinnesotaDuluthU.S.A
  3. 3.Department of PhilosophyBall State UniversityMuncieU.S.A.

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