Northwestern University
Department of Philosophy
PhD, 1989
DeKalb, Illinois, United States of America
  •  4
    This paper is the introduction to Function, Selection, and Design, consisting of the following sections: 1. Introduction 2. The Philosophical Problem 3. Recent Prehistory: The "State of the Art" in the 1960s 4. Wright and Cummins 5. Millikan 6. The Core Consensus and the Peripheral Disagreements 7. Unconclusion
  •  8
    Four Fallacies of Pop Evolutionary Psychology
    Scientific American 300 (1): 74-81. 2009.
    Some evolutionary psychologists have made widely popularized claims about how the human mind evolved, but other scholars argue that the grand claims lack solid evidence.
  •  14
    Male Sexual Jealousy: Lost Paternity Opportunities?
    Psychological Reports 122 (2): 575-592. 2019.
    Numerous studies have shown that men experience relatively greater levels of jealousy in response to the sexual aspects of an infidelity (relative to women), whereas women experience relatively greater levels of jealousy in response to the emotional aspects of an infidelity (relative to men). The traditional explanation for this relationship suggests that men experience this greater level of jealousy due to threats of a loss of paternal certainty. In this article, we present three stud…Read more
  •  172
    In the carefully argued central chapters of Adapting Minds, Buller scrutinizes several of evolutionary psychology's most highly publicized "...
  •  4
    Varieties of evolutionary psychology
    In David L. Hull & Michael Ruse (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to the Philosophy of Biology, Cambridge University Press. 2007.
  •  107
    Get Over: Massive modularity (review)
    Biology and Philosophy 20 (4): 881-891. 2005.
  •  76
    Defreuding evolutionary psychology: Adaptation and human motivation
    In Valerie Gray Hardcastle (ed.), Where Biology Meets Philosophy, Mit Press. pp. 99--114. 1999.
    Evolutionary psychologists sometimes suggest that "an evolutionary view of life can shed light on psyche" by revealing the "latent" psychology that underlies our "manifest" psychological image. At such moments, which become more frequent in popular works, explanations trade freely in subconscious motives whose goal is inclusive fitness. While some evolutionary psychologists explicitly deny that their aim is to uncover latent motivation, references to subconscious motives are nonetheless freque…Read more
  •  25
    Truth, by Chase Wrenn (review)
    Teaching Philosophy 39 (1): 69-72. 2016.
  •  134
    Etiological theories of function: A geographical survey
    Biology and Philosophy 13 (4): 505-527. 1998.
    Formulations of the essential commitment of the etiological theory of functions have varied significantly, with some individual authors' formulations even varying from one place to another. The logical geography of these various formulations is different from what is standardly assumed; for they are not stylistic variants of the same essential commitment, but stylistic variants of two non-equivalent versions of the etiological theory. I distinguish these “strong” and “weak” versions of the etiol…Read more
  •  279
    Millikan and Wilson argue, for different reasons, that the essential reference to the environment in adaptationist explanations of behavior makes (psychological) individualism inconsistent with evolutionary psychology. I show that their arguments are based on misinterpretations of the role of reference to the environment in such explanations. By exploring these misinterpretations, I develop an account of explanation in evolutionary psychology that is fully consistent with individualism. This doe…Read more
  •  32
    Erratum: Evolutionary psychology: the emperor's new paradigm (vol 9, pg 277, 2005)
    Trends in Cognitive Sciences 9 (8): 366-366. 2005.
    Full text of erratum: "In the article by D.J. Buller, on p. 278, the y-axis label to Fig. IIb was incorrect. Instead of 'Percentage choosing "Eats cassava root" and "Tattoo," it should have read: 'Percentage choosing "Eats cassava root" and "No tattoo."' We apologise to readers for this error."
  •  62
    The emperor is still under-dressed
    with Jerry Fodor and Tessa L. Crume
    Trends in Cognitive Sciences 9 (11): 508-510. 2005.
    Replies to Letters from Cosmides et al. (regarding cheater detection), Buss and Haselton (regarding sex differences in jealousy), and Daly and Wilson (regarding child abuse).
  •  4
    Function and Design Revisited
    In Andre Ariew, Robert Cummins & Mark Perlman (eds.), Functions: New Essays in the Philosophy of Psychology and Biology, Clarendon Press. 2002.
    Several analyses of biological function — for example, those of Williams, Millikan, and Kitcher — identify an item’s function with what natural selection designed it to do. Allen and Bekoff have disagreed, claiming that natural design is a special case of biological function. I argue that Allen and Bekoff’s account of natural design is unduly restrictive and that it fails to mark a principled distinction between function and design. I distinguish two approaches to the phenomenon of natural de…Read more
  •  15
    A Guided Tour of Evolutionary Psychology
    A Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind. 1999.
  •  37
    "Narrow"-mindedness breeds inaction
    Behavior and Philosophy 20 (1): 59-70. 1992.
    Discussion of Fodor's doctrine of 'methodological solipsism' and Stich's principle of autonomy' has been concerned to show that these principles are incompatible with psychological theories which appeal to states with content (e.g. beliefs and desires). Concern with these issues, and the subsequent attempt to develop a notion of 'narrow' content which is solipsistic or autonomous, has, I believe, obscured a more fundamental issue: No theory which satisfies these principles would ever be able to …Read more
  •  234
    Evolutionary psychologists claim that the mind contains “hundreds or thousands” of “genetically specified” modules, which are evolutionary adaptations for their cognitive functions. We argue that, while the adult human mind/brain typically contains a degree of modularization, its “modules” are neither genetically specified nor evolutionary adaptations. Rather, they result from the brain’s developmental plasticity, which allows environmental task demands a large role in shaping the brain’s informat…Read more
  • Evolutionary Psychology
    In Michael Ruse & Joseph Travis (eds.), Evolution: The First Four Billion Years, Harvard University Press. pp. 557-560. 2009.
  •  51
    The new paradox of temporal transience
    with Thomas R. Foster
    Philosophical Quarterly 42 (168): 357-366. 1992.
    McTaggart raised a famed paradox regarding the transientist conception of time, the idea that the present moves into the future to overtake future events (or, alternatively, that future events move into the present) and past events recede further and further into the past as time goes on. Schlesinger has recently attempted an ingenious transientist solution to McTaggart's paradox. We will argue that Schlesinger's solution to McTaggart's paradox itself gives rise to a new, yet perfectly parallel,…Read more
  •  40
    Function, Selection, and Design (edited book)
    State University of New York Press. 1999.
    A complete sourcebook for philosophical discussion of the nature of function in biology
  •  83
    The idea that human cognitive capacities are explainable by computational models is often conjoined with the idea that, while the states postulated by such models are in fact realized by brain states, there are no type-type correlations between the states postulated by computational models and brain states (a corollary of token physicalism). I argue that these ideas are not jointly tenable. I discuss the kinds of empirical evidence available to cognitive scientists for (dis)confirming computatio…Read more
  •  174
    On the 'standard' argument for fatalism
    Philosophical Papers 24 (2): 111-125. 1995.
    What has sometimes been called the "standard" argument for fatalism never achieved the critical popularity of Richard Taylor's (1962) infamous argument. But it has enjoyed far greater longevity. In De Fato Cicero (1960) tells us it was known in ancient Greece as the "idle argument", for it purports to show the futility of attempting to control one's fate and, hence, those persuaded by it could be led to a life of inaction and idleness. Even with such antiquated credentials, however, the argument…Read more
  •  292
    Evolutionary psychology: The emperor's new paradigm
    Trends in Cognitive Sciences 9 (6): 277-283. 2005.
    For some evolutionary psychology is merely a field of inquiry, but for others it is a robust paradigm involving specific theories about the nature and evolution of the human mind. Proponents of this paradigm claim to have made several important discoveries regarding the evolved architecture of the mind. Highly publicized discoveries include a cheater-detection module, a psychological sex difference in jealousy, and motivational mechanisms underlying parental love and its lapses, which purportedl…Read more