Dual process theory and the challenges of functional individuation

James D. Grayot*, Lukas Beck, Thijs Heijmeskamp

*Corresponding author for this work

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Despite on-going debates in philosophy and cognitive science, dual process theory (DPT) remains a popular framework for theorizing about human cognition. Its central hypothesis is that cognitive processing can be subsumed under two generic types. In this paper, we argue that the putative success and popularity of this framework remains overstated and gives rise to certain misunderstandings. If DPT has predictive and/or explanatory power, it is through offering descriptions of cognitive phenomena via functional analysis. But functional descriptions require an individuation strategy. To date, there has been no systematic exploration of how Type 1 and Type 2 are functionally individuated. Following recent debates in philosophy of cognitive science, we consider three individuation strategies (i.e., abstraction, reification, fictionalization) and assess the legitimacy of each in relation to DPT. This leads us to the verdict that the most viable route for justifying DPT is to construe Type 1 and Type 2 processes as reifications. We conclude that, construed as reifications, the common rationales offered by proponents of DPT for demarcating Type 1 and Type 2 processes do not escape criticism and require further theoretical justification.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPhenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences
Early online date25 Jun 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Jun 2024

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