ERIC Number: ED262332
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985-Aug
Reference Count: 0
Epistemological Realism in Cognitive Theory.
An inappropriate epistemological realism continues to dominate cognitive science. Realism, the idea that there is a single, univocal world which exists independently of us but which we can come to know, is tacitly accepted by almost the whole body of cognitive science. The fatal flaw in any realist approach to cognition and perception is that the stimulus underdetermines experience. The stimulus is ambiguous because one's experience is dependent upon one's values, intentions, and expectations, as well as on the stimulus itself. Realism persists as the dominant psychological approach, in spite of this flaw, because much of the relevant evidence appears to justify it. That same evidence, however, could be used to justify idealism, constructionism, or any of a number of alternatives. A second reason that realism persists is that people have strong intuitions favoring realism, intuitions which are justified in everyday life. Realism is sometimes completely appropriate in situations concerning strong biological constraints and in the social sphere, although it is generally inappropriate for cognitive theory. It is possible that the problems of realism in cognitive science can be solved by adopting an epistemological position allowing multiple realities. (NRB)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association (93rd, Los Angeles, CA, August 23-27, 1985).