•  1072
    Where Philosophical Intuitions Come From
    Australasian Journal of Philosophy 93 (2): 233-249. 2015.
    Intuitions play a central role in analytic philosophy, but their psychological basis is little understood. This paper provides an empirically-informed, psychological char- acterization of philosophical intuitions. Drawing on McCauley’s distinction between maturational and practiced naturalness, I argue that philosophical intuitions originate from several early-developed, specialized domains of core knowledge (maturational naturalness). Eliciting and deploying such intuitions in argumentative con…Read more
  •  1021
    Mathematical symbols as epistemic actions
    with Helen De Cruz and Johan De Smedt
    Synthese 190 (1): 3-19. 2013.
    Recent experimental evidence from developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience indicates that humans are equipped with unlearned elementary mathematical skills. However, formal mathematics has properties that cannot be reduced to these elementary cognitive capacities. The question then arises how human beings cognitively deal with more advanced mathematical ideas. This paper draws on the extended mind thesis to suggest that mathematical symbols enable us to delegate some mathematical oper…Read more
  •  782
    The cultural transmission of theological concepts remains an underexplored topic in the cognitive science of religion (CSR). In this paper, I examine whether approaches from CSR, especially the study of content biases in the transmission of beliefs, can help explain the cultural success of some theological concepts. This approach reveals that there is more continuity between theological beliefs and ordinary religious beliefs than CSR authors have hitherto recognized: the cultural transmission of…Read more
  •  773
    A Cognitive Approach to the Earliest Art
    Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 69 (4): 379-389. 2011.
    This paper takes a cognitive perspective to assess the significance of some Late Palaeolithic artefacts (sculptures and engraved objects) for philosophicalconcepts of art. We examine cognitive capacities that are necessary to produceand recognize objects that are denoted as art. These include the ability toattribute and infer design (design stance), the ability to distinguish between themateriality of an object and its meaning (symbol-mindedness), and an aesthetic sensitivity to some perceptual …Read more
  •  730
    Prestige Bias: An Obstacle to a Just Academic Philosophy
    Ergo: An Open Access Journal of Philosophy 5. 2018.
    This paper examines the role of prestige bias in shaping academic philosophy, with a focus on its demographics. I argue that prestige bias exacerbates the structural underrepresentation of minorities in philosophy. It works as a filter against (among others) philosophers of color, women philosophers, and philosophers of low socio-economic status. As a consequence of prestige bias our judgments of philosophical quality become distorted. I outline ways in which prestige bias in philosophy can be …Read more
  •  584
    The Enduring Appeal of Natural Theological Arguments
    Philosophy Compass 9 (2): 145-153. 2014.
    Natural theology is the branch of theology and philosophy that attempts to gain knowledge of God through non-revealed sources. In a narrower sense, natural theology is the discipline that presents rational arguments for the existence of God. Given that these arguments rarely directly persuade those who are not convinced by their conclusions, why do they enjoy an enduring appeal? This article examines two reasons for the continuing popularity of natural theological arguments: (i) they appeal to i…Read more
  •  531
    Reformed and evolutionary epistemology and the noetic effects of sin
    International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 74 (1): 49-66. 2013.
    Despite their divergent metaphysical assumptions, Reformed and evolutionary epistemologists have converged on the notion of proper basicality. Where Reformed epistemologists appeal to God, who has designed the mind in such a way that it successfully aims at the truth, evolutionary epistemologists appeal to natural selection as a mechanism that favors truth-preserving cognitive capacities. This paper investigates whether Reformed and evolutionary epistemological accounts of theistic belief are co…Read more
  •  521
    Religious disagreement is an emerging topic of interest in social epistemology. Little is known about how philosophers react to religious disagreements in a professional context, or how they think one should respond to disagreement. This paper presents results of an empirical study on religious disagreement among philosophers. Results indicate that personal religious beliefs, philosophical training, and recent changes in religious outlook have a significant impact on philosophers' assessments of…Read more
  •  496
    Hume was a cognitive scientist of religion avant la lettre. His Natural History of Religion (1757 [2007]) locates the origins of religion in human nature. This paper explores similarities between some of his ideas and the cognitive science of religion, the multidisciplinary study of the psychological origins of religious beliefs. It also considers Hume’s distinction between two questions about religion: its foundation in reason (the domain of natural theology and philosophy of religion) and its …Read more
  •  392
    The Epistemic Value of Speculative Fiction
    Midwest Studies in Philosophy 39 (1): 58-77. 2015.
    Speculative fiction, such as science fiction and fantasy, has a unique epistemic value. We examine similarities and differences between speculative fiction and philosophical thought experiments in terms of how they are cognitively processed. They are similar in their reliance on mental prospection, but dissimilar in that fiction is better able to draw in readers (transportation) and elicit emotional responses. By its use of longer, emotionally poignant narratives and seemingly irrelevant detail…Read more
  •  377
    Delighting in natural beauty: Joint attention and the phenomenology of nature aesthetics
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 5 (4): 167-186. 2013.
    Empirical research in the psychology of nature appreciation suggests that humans across cultures tend to evaluate nature in positive aesthetic terms, including a sense of beauty and awe. They also frequently engage in joint attention with other persons, whereby they are jointly aware of sharing attention to the same event or object. This paper examines how, from a natural theological perspective, delight in natural beauty can be conceptualized as a way of joining attention to creation. Drawing o…Read more
  •  375
    Is teaching children young earth creationism child abuse?
    The Philosophers' Magazine 63 21-23. 2013.
    Richard Dawkins has argued on several occasions that bringing up your child religiously is a form of child abuse. According to Dawkins, teaching children about religion is fine (it helps them to understand cultural references, for instance), but indoctrinating children – by which Dawkins means any form of education that teaches religious beliefs as facts – is morally wrong and harmful. Dawkins is not alone: the American theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, for instance, recently argued that te…Read more
  •  355
    Numerical cognition and mathematical realism
    Philosophers' Imprint 16. 2016.
    Humans and other animals have an evolved ability to detect discrete magnitudes in their environment. Does this observation support evolutionary debunking arguments against mathematical realism, as has been recently argued by Clarke-Doane, or does it bolster mathematical realism, as authors such as Joyce and Sinnott-Armstrong have assumed? To find out, we need to pay closer attention to the features of evolved numerical cognition. I provide a detailed examination of the functional properties of e…Read more
  •  294
    [from the publisher's website] Questions about the existence and attributes of God form the subject matter of natural theology, which seeks to gain knowledge of the divine by relying on reason and experience of the world. Arguments in natural theology rely largely on intuitions and inferences that seem natural to us, occurring spontaneously—at the sight of a beautiful landscape, perhaps, or in wonderment at the complexity of the cosmos—even to a nonphilosopher. In this book, Helen De Cruz and Jo…Read more
  •  231
    Evolved cognitive biases and the epistemic status of scientific beliefs
    with Johan De Smedt
    Philosophical Studies 157 (3): 411-429. 2012.
    Our ability for scientific reasoning is a byproduct of cognitive faculties that evolved in response to problems related to survival and reproduction. Does this observation increase the epistemic standing of science, or should we treat scientific knowledge with suspicion? The conclusions one draws from applying evolutionary theory to scientific beliefs depend to an important extent on the validity of evolutionary arguments (EAs) or evolutionary debunking arguments (EDAs). In this paper we show th…Read more
  •  170
    Evolutionary Approaches to Epistemic Justification
    with Maarten Boudry, Johan de Smedt, and Stefaan Blancke
    Dialectica 65 (4): 517-535. 2011.
    What are the consequences of evolutionary theory for the epistemic standing of our beliefs? Evolutionary considerations can be used to either justify or debunk a variety of beliefs. This paper argues that evolutionary approaches to human cognition must at least allow for approximately reliable cognitive capacities. Approaches that portray human cognition as so deeply biased and deficient that no knowledge is possible are internally incoherent and self-defeating. As evolutionary theory offers the…Read more
  •  165
    The argument from design stands as one of the most intuitively compelling arguments for the existence of a divine Creator. Yet, for many scientists and philosophers, Hume's critique and Darwin's theory of natural selection have definitely undermined the idea that we can draw any analogy from design in artifacts to design in nature. Here, we examine empirical studies from developmental and experimental psychology to investigate the cognitive basis of the design argument. From this it becomes clea…Read more
  •  162
    In historical claims for nativism, mathematics is a paradigmatic example of innate knowledge. Claims by contemporary developmental psychologists of elementary mathematical skills in human infants are a legacy of this. However, the connection between these skills and more formal mathematical concepts and methods remains unclear. This paper assesses the current debates surrounding nativism and mathematical knowledge by teasing them apart into two distinct claims. First, in what way does the experi…Read more
  •  156
    Religious Beliefs and Philosophical Views: A Qualitative Study
    Res Philosophica 95 (3): 477-504. 2018.
    Philosophy of religion is often regarded as a philosophical discipline in which irrelevant influences, such as upbringing and education, play a pernicious role. This paper presents results of a qualitative survey among academic philosophers of religion to examine the role of such factors in their work. In light of these findings, I address two questions: an empirical one (whether philosophers of religion are influenced by irrelevant factors in forming their philosophical attitudes) and an episte…Read more
  •  152
    The idea that formal geometry derives from intuitive notions of space has appeared in many guises, most notably in Kant’s argument from geometry. Kant claimed that an a priori knowledge of spatial relationships both allows and constrains formal geometry: it serves as the actual source of our cognition of principles of geometry and as a basis for its further cultural development. The development of non-Euclidean geometries, however, seemed to definitely undermine the idea that there is some pri…Read more
  •  122
    An extended mind perspective on natural number representation
    Philosophical Psychology 21 (4). 2008.
    Experimental studies indicate that nonhuman animals and infants represent numerosities above three or four approximately and that their mental number line is logarithmic rather than linear. In contrast, human children from most cultures gradually acquire the capacity to denote exact cardinal values. To explain this difference, I take an extended mind perspective, arguing that the distinctly human ability to use external representations as a complement for internal cognitive operations enables us…Read more
  •  120
    Religious Conversion, Transformative Experience, and Disagreement
    Philosophia Christi 20 (1): 265-276. 2018.
    Religious conversion gives rise to disagreement with one’s former self and with family and friends. Because religious conversion is personally and epistemically transformative, it is difficult to judge whether a former epistemic peer is still one’s epistemic peer post-conversion, just like it is hard for the convert to assess whether she is now in a better epistemic position than prior to her conversion. Through Augustine’s De Utilitate Credendi (The Usefulness of Belief) I show that reasoned ar…Read more
  •  106
    The relationship between language and conceptual thought is an unresolved problem in both philosophy and psychology. It remains unclear whether linguistic structure plays a role in our cognitive processes. This special issue brings together cognitive scientists and philosophers to focus on the role of language in numerical cognition: because of their universality and variability across languages, number words can serve as a fruitful test case to investigate claims of linguistic relativism.
  •  103
    Etiological challenges to religious practices
    American Philosophical Quarterly 55 (4). 2018.
    There is a common assumption that evolutionary explanations of religion undermine religious beliefs. Do etiological accounts similarly affect the rationality of religious practices? To answer this question, this paper looks at two influential evolutionary accounts of ritual, the hazard-precaution model and costly signaling theory. It examines whether Cuneo’s account of ritual knowledge as knowing to engage God can be maintained in the light of these evolutionary accounts. While the evolutionary …Read more
  •  94
    Het 'universele zuur' van de evolutionaire psychologie?
    Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 73 (2): 287-305. 2011.
    In a previous issue of Tijdschrift voor Filosofie, Filip Buekens argues that evolutionary psychology (EP), or some interpretations thereof, have a corrosive impact on our ‘manifest self-image’. Buekens wants to defend and protect the global adequacy of this manifest self-image in the face of what he calls evolutionary revisionism. Although we largely agree with Buekens’ central argument, we criticize his analysis on several accounts, making some constructive proposals to strengthen his case. Fir…Read more
  •  91
    An enduring puzzle in philosophy and developmental psychology is how young children acquire number concepts, in particular the concept of natural number. Most solutions to this problem conceptualize young learners as lone mathematicians who individually reconstruct the successor function and other sophisticated mathematical ideas. In this chapter, I argue for a crucial role of testimony in children’s acquisition of number concepts, both in the transfer of propositional knowledge (e.g., the cardi…Read more
  •  90
    Religious Disagreement
    Cambridge University Press. 2019.
    This Element examines what we can learn from religious disagreement, focusing on disagreement with possible selves and former selves, the epistemic significance of religious agreement, the problem of disagreements between religious experts, and the significance of philosophy of religion. Helen De Cruz shows how religious beliefs of others constitute significant higher-order evidence. At the same time, she advises that we should not necessarily become agnostic about all religious matters, because…Read more
  •  89
    The role of intuitive ontologies in scientific understanding – the case of human evolution
    with Johan De Smedt
    Biology and Philosophy 22 (3): 351-368. 2007.
    Psychological evidence suggests that laypeople understand the world around them in terms of intuitive ontologies which describe broad categories of objects in the world, such as ‘person’, ‘artefact’ and ‘animal’. However, because intuitive ontologies are the result of natural selection, they only need to be adaptive; this does not guarantee that the knowledge they provide is a genuine reflection of causal mechanisms in the world. As a result, science has parted ways with intuitive ontologies. Ne…Read more
  •  80
    This article considers the imago Dei from the perspective of paleoanthropology. We identify structural, functional, and relational elements of the imago Dei that emerged mosaically during human evolution. Humans are unique in their ability to relate to each other and to God, and in their membership of cultural communities where shared attention, the transmission of moral norms, and symbolic behavior are important elements. We discuss similarities between our approach and the concept of theosis a…Read more
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