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Scientific Inference and Ordinary Cognition: Fodor on Holism and Cognitive Architecture



    Corresponding author
    1. Yonsei University Underwood International College, Seoul, Republic of Korea
    • Address for correspondence: T. Fuller, B124 New Millenium Hall, Underwood International College, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea, 120–749; R. Samuels, Department of Philosophy, The Ohio State University, 350 University Hall, 230 North Oval Mall, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA. Email:;

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    1. Department of Philosophy, The Ohio State University, Columbus
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  • Many thanks to Louise Antony, Abe Roth, Shannon Spaulding, Declan Smithies, and William Taschek, all of whom commented on earlier incarnations of this paper. Thanks are also due to audiences at the 2012 Central APA, Lingnan University and the 2012 meeting of The Society for Philosophy and Psychology.


Do accounts of scientific theory formation and revision have implications for theories of everyday cognition? We maintain that failing to distinguish between importantly different types of theories of scientific inference has led to fundamental misunderstandings of the relationship between science and everyday cognition. In this article, we focus on one influential manifestation of this phenomenon which is found in Fodor's well-known critique of theories of cognitive architecture. We argue that in developing his critique, Fodor confounds a variety of distinct claims about the holistic nature of scientific inference. Having done so, we outline more promising relations that hold between theories of scientific inference and ordinary cognition.

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