This is an answer to Frank’s comment, and an indirect answer to Scott:
Hello Frank, yes pluralism is pluralistic (some pluralism is). One of my favorite examples is when Feyerabend, who had developpped a doctrine of methodological pluralism, attended Weiszacker’s seminar on quantum physics. Like a good believing pluralist he argued that quantum theory was dogmatic as it had failed to consider other alternative theories, but Weiszacker showed by analysing the historical steps in context that each development of the theory was based on a wealth of concrete arguments. Feyerabend realised that it was in fact he that was dogmatic insisting on a universal pluralist method, and that scientists should have complete freedom from methodological strictures. All that could be done was to analyse concrete moves in particual cases and consider the methodological remarks of successful practitioners to arrive at not a doctrine but a set of tips and astuces, handy rules of thumb that sometimes work and that are not prescriptive but optional, requiring us to take into account the context and to use and develop our own intuition and know-how. This was his move from methodological pluralism (dogmatic, apodictic) to a more free-wheeling pluralism (anarchist, heuristic). He expressed this new attitude in AGAINST METHOD.
Another name for such a pluralism is immanence, which means not taking any entity or principle as transcendent to and having supreme authority (ontological, epistemological, or political) over a domain. This is the same as the heuristic pluralist idea that meta-level and object-level are inextricably inter-twined. This way of talking about it all comes from Deleuze, and he describes a similar change (or conversion, if you will). He had elaborated a whole pluralist theory about multplicities, but it was classically expressed, and so, while an improvement on his predecessors, constituted a new dogmatism, a new servitude, as he came to see later). He was approached by a dissenting psychoanalyst who was more used to working with psychotics than with neurotics, who argued that psychoanalysts were afraid of schizophrenics because they were in fact afraid of the unconscious as it was too pluralist for them and they failed to simplify and codify it into conformity with social ideals. Deleuze began a long collaboration with Guattari over many years based on the idea that it was not enough to have a pluralist theory but that they had to have a pluralist attitude (attitude is meta-) to all theory and that to theorise multiplicities meant also to live them out and to produce them. This led to a series of very brilliant books, beginning with ANTI-OEDIPUS.
I discuss Scott’s work because he sometimes says pluralist and immanentist and heuristic things, but then goes on to contradict himself in the way he talks about “science”. So I have a problem here, what Scott says about science and cognition does not correspond to the way he says it. At least not in my eyes. I think he is missing a nuance that may be hard to isolate out; That’s why in my posts a take the long way round and talk about Feyerabend and Deleuze and Spinoza and whatnot, because if I am too direct he tells me he knows and says all that already. But what he says is not what he does when he uses “science”. At this level I think he is just plain wrong. Cognitive science is not just about illusions, it studies our cognition and not just its pathologies. And we do in fact cognize lots of things. Otherwise we could not cognize that we don’t cognize things. Noone claims that our cognition is always accurate or unchanging or universal or even very detailed. Knowing how to thrash your limbs about while trying unsuccessfully to swim is still knowledge, that a newborn baby would not know how to do, and the same applies to calling out for help, and knowing what’s happening to you. Not all cognition is detailed, you’re swimming discomfits are a striking case of coarse cognition. But all cognition is coarse compared the the next lower order of magnitude, all knowledge is approximative – that’s another case for heuristics.
When I talk about intuition I am not, in this discussion, talking about the philosophical sense of intuition as sensation, nor about the psychological notion of perceiving with a sort of “sixth sense” things that I shouldn’t be able to. I am talking about heuristic know-how, skill at coping with things I have gotten familiar with. Scott’s using massive online feedback is one heuristic technique among many, and poses no problem for me. And a computer algorithm that produces even a whole novel does not bother me in principle. But it won’t produce Proust or Joyce, or even Agatha Christie, at least at their inception. Maybe now that there are dozens of Agatha Christie novels you could cook up a programme to generate more, but you can’t get one to invent a new genre of writing. And if you could actually get a programme that does not generate but “cobbles” then it would have know-how like us, who are all cobblers and bricoleurs, and I would welcome it to the club of heuristics, as it would no longer be an algorithm.