Volume 50, Issue 1, Spring 2022
Inferentialism on Naturalized Grounds
The Evolution of Reason Giving and Confirmation Bias
What Has Been Explained?
In their own way, inferentialists and interactionists both trace the roots of reflective reasoning to practices and skills for making, assessing, and responding to public performances in communicative practices of giving and asking for reasons. Inferentialists have developed the idea mostly on conceptual grounds. Interactionists ask, in a more empirical spirit, why and how such practices and skills might have evolved. Thus they promise complementary “anthropological” insights of foremost interest to inferentialists. But interactionist theories advance a number of controversial claims that deserve careful scrutiny. In this essay I focus on one such claim: namely that confirmation bias can be plausibly explained as a design feature that promotes postulated functions of interactive reasoning. And I argue that each of three extant proposals fails to make the claim good.