•  146
    A Framework for the Emotional Psychology of Group Membership
    with Taylor Davis
    Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1-22. forthcoming.
    The vast literature on negative treatment of outgroups and favoritism toward ingroups provides many local insights but is largely fragmented, lacking an overarching framework that might provide a unified overview and guide conceptual integration. As a result, it remains unclear where different local perspectives conflict, how they may reinforce one another, and where they leave gaps in our knowledge of the phenomena. Our aim is to start constructing a framework to help remedy this situation. We …Read more
  •  95
    Norm-based Governance for a New Era: Lessons from Climate Change and COVID-19
    with Leigh Raymond and Erin Hennes
    Perspectives on Politics. forthcoming.
    The world has surpassed three million deaths from COVID-19, and faces potentially catastrophic tipping points in the global climate system. Despite the urgency, governments have struggled to address either problem. In this paper, we argue that COVID-19 and anthropogenic climate change (ACC) are critical examples of an emerging type of governance challenge: severe collective action problems that require significant individual behavior change under conditions of hyper- partisanship and scientific …Read more
  •  85
    Intentionality - naturalization of
    with Kelby Mason and Dennis Whitcomb
    In Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, . pp. 1993-1996. 2008.
    States that are about things are intentional, that is, they have content. The precise nature of intentional states is a matter of dispute.What makes some states, but not others, intentional? Of those states that are intentional, what makes them about what they are about as opposed to something else, i.e. what gives them their specific content?
  •  207
    Individualism, Structuralism, and Climate Change
    Environmental Communication 1. 2021.
    Scholars, journalists, and activists working on climate change often distinguish between “individual” and “structural” approaches to decarbonization. The former concern choices individuals can make to reduce their “personal carbon footprint” (e.g., eating less meat). The latter concern changes to institutions, laws, and other social structures. These two approaches are often framed as oppositional, representing a mutually exclusive forced choice between alternative routes to decarbonization. Aft…Read more
  •  76
    Taking Social Psychology Out of Context
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences. forthcoming.
    We endorse Cesario’s call for more research into the complexities of “real-world” decisions and the comparative power of different causes of group disparities. Unfortunately, these reasonable suggestions are overshadowed by a barrage of non sequiturs, misdirected criticisms of methodology, and unsubstantiated claims about the assumptions and inferences of social psychologists.
  • Review of The Meaning of Disgust by Colin McGinn (review)
    Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 1 1-8. 2012.
    Colin McGinn's The Meaning of Disgust numbers among several scholarly books on disgust that have been published in the last couple of years (including, in the interest of full and up front disclosure, one by the writer of this review). McGinn's book argues for a coherent, if incredible, account of the essence of disgustingness and of the emotion of disgust, and reflects on the potential significance of that account for different areas of human concern. It also bears many of the characteristics t…Read more
  •  39
    Review of The Evolution of Moral Progress: A Biocultural Theory by Allen Buchanan and Russell Powell (review)
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science Review of Books 1 1-14. 2019.
    Allen Buchanan and Russel Powell’s The Evolution of Moral Progress (EMP) is likely to become a landmark. It adeptly builds on much of the recent empirical work, weaving it together with philosophical material drawn from a series of essays published by the two authors. EMP makes the case that moral progress is not only consistent with human psychology but—under some conditions—likely. At its heart is a careful, well-developed rebuttal to the idea that there are evolved constraints endogenous to h…Read more
  •  68
    Kurth wants us to understand and appreciate our anxiety more than we typically do. His concise and crisply written monograph makes a good case that we should. It deepens our understanding of what anxiety is, and of how it animates different facets of our mental and moral lives. The case he builds that, roughly, anxiety is one of the brain’s ways of affectively signaling and responding to uncertainty is clearly argued and meticulously organized. Kurth hits the targets he sets for himself, and adv…Read more
  •  16
    Socializing willpower: Resolve from the outside in
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 44. 2021.
    Ainslie's account of willpower is conspicuously individualistic. Because other people, social influence, and culture appear only peripherally, it risks overlooking what may be resolve's deeply social roots. We identify a general “outside-in” explanatory strategy suggested by a range of recent research into human cognitive evolution, and suggest how it might illuminate the origins and more social aspects of resolve.
  •  57
    On the Alleged Inadequacies of Psychological Explanations of Racism
    with Edouard Machery, Luc Faucher, and Daniel R. Kelly
    The Monist 93 (2): 228-254. 2010.
  •  102
    Race and racial cognition
    with Daniel Kelly, Edouard Machery, and Ron Mallon
    In John Michael Doris (ed.), The Moral Psychology Handbook, Oxford University Press. 2010.
    A core question of contemporary social morality concerns how we ought to handle racial categorization. By this we mean, for instance, classifying or thinking of a person as Black, Korean, Latino, White, etc.² While it is widely FN:2 agreed that racial categorization played a crucial role in past racial oppression, there remains disagreement among philosophers and social theorists about the ideal role for racial categorization in future endeavors. At one extreme of this disagreement are short-ter…Read more
  •  26
    My modest aim in this piece is to frame and illuminate some of the issues surrounding normative motivation, rather than take a firm position on any of them. I begin by clarifying the key terms in my title of this essay, and unpacking some of the assumptions that underpin its question. I then distinguish four kinds of answers one might give. In this short essay I will not be able to properly develop and evaluate an argument for the view that normative motivations are psychologically primitive, bu…Read more
  •  4
    The Psychology of Normative Cognition
    The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2020.
    From an early age, humans exhibit a tendency to identify, adopt, and enforce the norms of their local communities. Norms are the social rules that mark out what is appropriate, allowed, required, or forbidden in different situations for various community members. These rules are informal in the sense that although they are sometimes represented in formal laws, such as the rule governing which side of the road to drive on, they need not be explicitly codified to effectively influence behavior. Th…Read more
  •  9
    Bioethical Ideals, Actual Practice, and the Double Life of Norms
    American Journal of Bioethics 20 (4): 86-88. 2020.
    Volume 20, Issue 4, May 2020, Page 86-88.
  •  283
    Enhancement, Authenticity, and Social Acceptance in the Age of Individualism
    American Journal of Bioethics Neuroscience 10 (1): 51-53. 2019.
    Public attitudes concerning cognitive enhancements are significant for a number of reasons. They tell us about how socially acceptable these emerging technologies are considered to be, but they also provide a window into the ethical reasons that are likely to get traction in the ongoing debates about them. We thus see Conrad et al’s project of empirically investigating the effect of metaphors and context in shaping attitudes about cognitive enhancements as both interesting and important. We sket…Read more
  •  202
    At the end of a chapter in his book Race, Racism and Reparations, Angelo Corlett notes that “[t]here remain other queries about racism [than those he addressed in his chapter], which need philosophical exploration. … Perhaps most important, how might racism be unlearned?” (2003, 93). We agree with Corlett’s assessment of its importance, but find that philosophers have not been very keen to directly engage with the issue of how to best deal with, and ultimately do away with, racism. Rather, they …Read more
  •  62
    Selective debunking arguments, folk psychology, and empirical psychology
    In Hagop Sarkissian & Jennifer Cole Wright (eds.), Advances in Experimental Moral Psychology, Bloomsbury. pp. 130-147. 2014.
    Rather than set out an overarching view or take a stand on the debunking of morality tout court, in what follows I’ll explore a divide and conquer strategy. First, I will briefly sketch a debunking argument that, instead of targeting all of morality or human moral nature, has a more narrow focus—namely, the intuitive moral authority of disgust. The argument concludes that as vivid and compelling as they can be while one is in their grip, feelings of disgust should be granted no power to justify …Read more
  •  746
    Social norms and human normative psychology
    Social Philosophy and Policy 35 (1): 54-76. 2018.
    Our primary aim in this paper is to sketch a cognitive evolutionary approach for developing explanations of social change that is anchored on the psychological mechanisms underlying normative cognition and the transmission of social norms. We throw the relevant features of this approach into relief by comparing it with the self-fulfilling social expectations account developed by Bicchieri and colleagues. After describing both accounts, we argue that the two approaches are largely compatible, but…Read more
  •  412
    We argue that work on norms provides a way to move beyond debates between proponents of individualist and structuralist approaches to bias, oppression, and injustice. We briefly map out the geography of that debate before presenting Charlotte Witt’s view, showing how her position, and the normative ascriptivism at its heart, seamlessly connects individuals to the social reality they inhabit. We then describe recent empirical work on the psychology of norms and locate the notions of informal inst…Read more
  •  932
    Implicit Bias, Character and Control
    In Jonathan Webber & Alberto Masala (eds.), From Personality to Virtue, . pp. 106-133. 2016.
    Our focus here is on whether, when influenced by implicit biases, those behavioural dispositions should be understood as being a part of that person’s character: whether they are part of the agent that can be morally evaluated.[4]  We frame this issue in terms of control. If a state, process, or behaviour is not something that the agent can, in the relevant sense, control, then it is not something that counts as part of her character. A number of theorists have argued that individuals do not hav…Read more
  •  304
    Race is one of the most common variables in the social sciences, used to draw correlations between racial groups and numerous other important variables such as education, healthcare outcomes, aptitude tests, wealth, employment and so forth. But where concern with race once reflected the view that races were biologically real, many, if not most, contemporary social scientists have abandoned the idea that racial categories demarcate substantial, intrinsic biological differences between people. Thi…Read more
  •  24
    Norms, not moral norms: The boundaries of morality do not matter
    with Taylor Davis
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 41. 2018.
  •  27
    This dissertation explores issues in the philosophy of psychology and metaphysics through the lens of the emotion of disgust, and its corresponding property, disgustingness. The first chapter organizes an extremely large body of data about disgust, imposes two constraints any theory must meet, and offers a cognitive model of the mechanisms underlying the emotion. The second chapter explores the evolution of disgust, and argues for the Entanglement thesis: this uniquely human emotion was formed w…Read more
  •  35
    The role of psychology in the study of culture
    with Edouard Machery, Ron Mallon, Kelby Mason, and Steve Stich
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 29 (4): 355-355. 2006.
    Although we are enthusiastic about a Darwinian approach to culture, we argue that the overview presented in the target article does not sufficiently emphasize the crucial explanatory role that psychology plays in the study of culture. We use a number of examples to illustrate the variety of ways by which appeal to psychological factors can help explain cultural phenomena. (Published Online November 9 2006).
  •  177
    Moral realism and cross-cultural normative diversity
    with Machery Edouard and P. Stich Stephen
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 28 (6): 830-830. 2005.
    We discuss the implications of the findings reported in the target article for moral theory, and argue that they represent a clear and genuine case of fundamental moral disagreement. As such, the findings support a moderate form of moral anti-realism – the position that, for some moral issues, there is no fact of the matter about what is right and wrong
  •  401
    Racial cognition and the ethics of implicit bias
    Philosophy Compass 3 (3). 2008.
    We first describe recent empirical research on racial cognition, particularly work on implicit racial biases that suggests they are widespread, that they can coexist with explicitly avowed anti-racist and tolerant attitudes, and that they influence behavior in a variety of subtle but troubling ways. We then consider a cluster of questions that the existence and character of implicit racial biases raise for moral theory. First, is it morally condemnable to harbor an implicit racial bias? Second, …Read more