The Incoherence of Heuristically Explaining Coherence

In Ron Sun (ed.), Proceedings of the 28th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society. Mahwah, NJ 07430, USA: pp. 2622 (2006)
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Abstract
Advancement in cognitive science depends, in part, on doing some occasional ‘theoretical housekeeping’. We highlight some conceptual confusions lurking in an important attempt at explaining the human capacity for rational or coherent thought: Thagard & Verbeurgt’s computational-level model of humans’ capacity for making reasonable and truth-conducive abductive inferences (1998; Thagard, 2000). Thagard & Verbeurgt’s model assumes that humans make such inferences by computing a coherence function (f_coh), which takes as input representation networks and their pair-wise constraints and gives as output a partition into accepted (A) and rejected (R) elements that maximizes the weight of satisfied constraints. We argue that their proposal gives rise to at least three difficult problems.
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