• Philosophy Illustrated: 40 Thought Experiments to Broaden your Mind (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
  •  1721
    We are addressing this letter to the editors of Philosophical Psychology after reading an article they decided to publish in the recent vol. 33, issue 1. The article is by Nathan Cofnas and is entitled “Research on group differences in intelligence: A defense of free inquiry” (2020). The purpose of our letter is not to invite Cofnas’s contribution into a broader dialogue, but to respectfully voice our concerns about the decision to publish the manuscript, which, in our opinion, fails to meet a r…Read more
  •  1
    The cognitive basis of arithmetic
    with Hansjörg Neth and Dirk Schlimm
    In Benedikt Löwe & Thomas Müller (eds.), PhiMSAMP. Philosophy of mathematics: Sociological aspects and mathematical practice, . pp. 59-106. 2010.
    status: published.
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    Moving Up without Losing Your Way: The Ethical Costs of Upward Mobility (review)
    The Philosophers' Magazine 89 114-116. 2020.
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    Humans have cognitive mechanisms that allow them to keep track of time, represent past events, and simulate the future, but these capacities have intrinsic constraints. Here, we explore the role of material culture as an extension of internal time representations through anthropological and archeological case studies, focusing on Upper Paleolithic material culture. We argue that calendars complement and extend internal time representations, because they enable humans to project past events into …Read more
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    This paper examines explanations for human artistic behavior in two reductionist research programs, cognitive neuroscience and evolutionary psychology. Despite their different methodological outlooks, both approaches converge on an explanation of art production and appreciation as byproducts of normal perceptual and motivational cognitive skills that evolved in response to problems originally not related to art, such as the discrimination of salient visual stimuli and speech sounds. The explanat…Read more
  •  1
    Science as Structured Imagination
    Journal of Creative Behavior 44 (1): 29-44. 2010.
    This paper offers an analysis of scientific creativity based on theoretical models and experimental results of the cognitive sciences. Its core idea is that scientific creativity - like other forms of creativity - is structured and constrained by prior ontological expectations. Analogies provide scientists with a powerful epistemic tool to overcome these constraints. While current research on analogies in scientific understanding focuses on near analogies - where target and source domain are clo…Read more
  •  29
    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
  •  122
    There is a large gap between the specialized knowledge of scientists and laypeople’s understanding of the sciences. The novice-expert problem arises when non-experts are confronted with (real or apparent) scientific disagreement, and when they don’t know whom to trust. Because they are not able to gauge the content of expert testimony, they rely on imperfect heuristics to evaluate the trustworthiness of scientists. This paper investigates why some bodies of scientific knowledge become polarized …Read more
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    Philosophy Through Fiction
    The Philosophers' Magazine 88 20-28. 2020.
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    This paper examines the role of awe and wonder in scientific practice. Drawing on evidence from psychological research and the writings of scientists and science communicators, I argue that awe and wonder play a crucial role in scientific discovery. They focus our attention on the natural world, encourage open-mindedness, diminish the self (particularly feelings of self-importance), help to accord value to the objects that are being studied, and provide a mode of understanding in the absence of…Read more
  •  149
    The Challenge of Evolution to Religion
    Cambridge University Press. 2020.
    This Element focuses on three challenges of evolution to religion: teleology, human origins, and the evolution of religion itself. First, religious worldviews tend to presuppose a teleological understanding of the origins of living things, but scientists mostly understand evolution as non-teleological. Second, religious and scientific accounts of human origins do not align in a straightforward sense. Third, evolutionary explanations of religion, including religious beliefs and practices, may cas…Read more
  •  139
    According to cognitive science of religion (CSR) people naturally veer toward beliefs that are quite divergent from Anselmian monotheism or Christian theism. Some authors have taken this view as a starting point for a debunking argument against religion, while others have tried to vindicate Christian theism by appeal to the noetic effects of sin or the Fall. In this paper, we ask what theologians can learn from CSR about the nature of the divine, by looking at the CSR literature and what it iden…Read more
  •  136
    Is intuitive teleological reasoning promiscuous?
    In William Gibson, Dan O'brien & Marius Turda (eds.), Teleology and Modernity, Routledge. pp. 185-202. 2020.
    Humans have a tendency to reason teleologically. This tendency is more pronounced under time pressure, in people with little formal schooling and in patients with Alzheimer’s. This has led some cognitive scientists of religion, notably Kelemen, to call intuitive teleological reasoning promiscuous, by which they mean teleology is applied to domains where it is unwarranted. We examine these claims using Kant’s idea of the transcendental illusion in the first Critique and his views on the regulativ…Read more
  •  142
    Animal Cognition, Species Invariantism, and Mathematical Realism
    In Andrew Aberdein & Matthew Inglis (eds.), Advances in Experimental Philosophy of Logic and Mathematics, Bloomsbury Academic. pp. 39-61. 2019.
    What can we infer from numerical cognition about mathematical realism? In this paper, I will consider one aspect of numerical cognition that has received little attention in the literature: the remarkable similarities of numerical cognitive capacities across many animal species. This Invariantism in Numerical Cognition (INC) indicates that mathematics and morality are disanalogous in an important respect: proto-moral beliefs differ substantially between animal species, whereas proto-mathematical…Read more
  •  215
    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
  •  251
    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
  •  529
    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
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    Joshua Alexander
    Journal of Cognition and Culture 14 (1-2): 149-152. 2014.
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    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
  •  213
    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
  •  1059
    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
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    Towards a Darwinian Approach to Mathematics
    Foundations of Science 11 (1): 157-196. 2004.
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    [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
  •  181
    Intuitions and Arguments: Cognitive Foundations of Argumentation in Natural Theology
    European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 9 (2): 57-82. 2017.
    This paper examines the cognitive foundations of natural theology: the intuitions that provide the raw materials for religious arguments, and the social context in which they are defended or challenged. We show that the premises on which natural theological arguments are based rely on intuitions that emerge early in development, and that underlie our expectations for everyday situations, e.g., about how causation works, or how design is recognized. In spite of the universality of these intuition…Read more
  •  57
    The failure of current bootstrapping accounts to explain the emergence of the concept of natural numbers does not entail that no link exists between intuitive and formal number concepts. The epidemiology of representations allows us to explain similarities between intuitive and formal number concepts without requiring that the latter are directly constructed from the former
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    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