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Three correctives can get researchers out of the trap of constructing unitary theories of “thinking”: (1) Strong inference methods largely avoid problems associated with universal prescriptive normativism; (2) theories must recognize that significant modularity of cognitive processes is antithetical to general accounts of thinking; and (3) consideration of the domain-specificity of rationality render many of the present article's issues moot.
Both the theoretical frameworks that organize the first part of Barbey & Sloman's (B&S's) target article and the empirical evidence marshaled in the second part are marked by distinctions that should not exist (i.e., false dichotomies), conflations where distinctions should be made, and selective omissions of empirical results – within the very studies discussed – that create illusions of theoretical and empirical favor.
The tension between focusing on species similarities versus species differences (phylogenetic versus adaptationist approaches) recurs in discussions about the nature of neural connectivity and organization following brain expansion. Whereas Striedter suggests a primary role for response inhibition, other possibilities include dense recurrent connectivity loops. Computer simulations and brain imaging technologies are crucial in better understanding actual neuronal connectivity patterns.
A more complete and balanced theoretical framework for social psychology, as recommended in the target article, must include functional explanations of processes – moving beyond enumerations of processes and their properties. These functional explanations are at a different, but complementary, level from process descriptions. The further advancement of social psychology relies on the incorporation of such multilevel explanations.
Special design criteria are largely unable to discriminate between claims that specific competencies in judgements under uncertainty are a result of an adaptation for representing naturally sampled frequencies, or due only to inherent properties of such a format. Because divisions between these perspectives are thin, evidence via additional criteria are persuasive only in combination, using inference to the best available explanation.
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