Seeking Common Cause between Cognitive Science and Ethnography: Alternative Logic in Cooperative Action

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
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  • 1 Universität zu Köln
  • 2 University of Edinburgh

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Abstract

Alternative logics have been invoked periodically to explain the systematically different modes of thought of the subjects of ethnography: one logic for ‘us’ and another for ‘them’. Recently anthropologists have cast doubt on the tenability of such an explanation of difference. In cognitive science, [Stenning and van Lambalgen, 2008] proposed that with the modern development of multiple logics, at least several logics are required for making sense of the cognitive processes of reasoning for different purposes and in different contexts. Alongside Classical logic (CL) — the logic of dispute), there is a need for a nonmonotonic logic (LP) which is a logic of cooperative communication. Here we propose that all people with various cultural backgrounds make use of multiple logics, and that difference should be captured as variation in the social contexts that call forth the different logics’ application. This contribution illustrates these ideas with reference to the ethnography of divination.

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