Eindhoven University of Technology
Department of Philosophy and Ethics
PhD, 2008
Eindhoven, North Brabant, Netherlands
  •  11
    Complexity and technological evolution: What everybody knows?
    with Wybo Houkes
    Biology and Philosophy 32 (6): 1245-1268. 2017.
    The consensus among cultural evolutionists seems to be that human cultural evolution is cumulative, which is commonly understood in the specific sense that cultural traits, especially technological traits, increase in complexity over generations. Here we argue that there is insufficient credible evidence in favor of or against this technological complexity thesis. For one thing, the few datasets that are available hardly constitute a representative sample. For another, they substantiate very spe…Read more
  •  61
    Pluralism and Peer Review in Philosophy
    with J. Katzav
    Philosophers' Imprint 17. 2017.
    Recently, mainstream philosophy journals have tended to implement more and more stringent forms of peer review, probably in an attempt to prevent editorial decisions that are based on factors other than quality. Against this trend, we propose that journals should relax their standards of acceptance, as well as be less restrictive about whom is to decide what is admitted into the debate. We start by arguing, partly on the basis of the history of peer review in the journal Mind, that past and curr…Read more
  •  8
    Chimpocentrism and reconstructions of human evolution
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 (1): 12-21. 2014.
    Chimpanzees, but very few other animals, figure prominently in attempts to reconstruct the evolution of uniquely human traits. In particular, the chimpanzee is used to identify traits unique to humans, and thus in need of reconstruction; to initialize the reconstruction, by taking its state to reflect the state of the last common ancestor of humans and chimpanzees; as a baseline against which to test evolutionary hypotheses. Here I point out the flaws in this three-step procedure, and show how t…Read more
  •  239
    Robust! -- Handle with care
    with Wybo Houkes
    Philosophy of Science 79 (3): 1-20. 2012.
  •  76
    The Reliability of Armchair Intuitions
    with Martin Peterson and Bart Van Bezooijen
    Metaphilosophy 44 (5): 559-578. 2013.
    Armchair philosophers have questioned the significance of recent work in experimental philosophy by pointing out that experiments have been conducted on laypeople and undergraduate students. To challenge a practice that relies on expert intuitions, so the armchair objection goes, one needs to demonstrate that expert intuitions rather than those of ordinary people are sensitive to contingent facts such as cultural, linguistic, socio-economic, or educational background. This article does exactly t…Read more
  •  21
    From individual cognition to populational culture
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 35 (4): 245-262. 2012.
    In my response to the commentaries from a collection of esteemed researchers, I reassess and eventually find largely intact my claim that human tool use evidences higher social and non-social cognitive ability. Nonetheless, I concede that my examination of individual-level cognitive traits does not offer a full explanation of cumulative culture yet. For that, one needs to incorporate them into population-dynamic models of cultural evolution. I briefly describe my current and future work on this
  •  67
    On the emergence of American analytic philosophy
    British Journal for the History of Philosophy 25 (4): 772-798. 2017.
    ABSTRACTThis paper is concerned with the reasons for the emergence and dominance of analytic philosophy in America. It closely examines the contents of, and changing editors at, The Philosophical Review, and provides a perspective on the contents of other leading philosophy journals. It suggests that analytic philosophy emerged prior to the 1950s in an environment characterized by a rich diversity of approaches to philosophy and that it came to dominate American philosophy at least in part due t…Read more
  •  168
    Knowledge without credit, exhibit 4: Extended cognition (review)
    Synthese 181 (3): 515-529. 2011.
    The Credit Theory of Knowledge (CTK)—as expressed by such figures as John Greco, Wayne Riggs, and Ernest Sosa—holds that knowing that p implies deserving epistemic credit for truly believing that p . Opponents have presented three sorts of counterexamples to CTK: S might know that p without deserving credit in cases of (1) innate knowledge (Lackey, Kvanvig); (2) testimonial knowledge (Lackey); or (3) perceptual knowledge (Pritchard). The arguments of Lackey, Kvanvig and Pritchard, however, are e…Read more
  •  4
    Chimpocentrism and reconstructions of human evolution
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 45 12-21. 2013.
  •  356
    Giere's (In)Appropriation of Distributed Cognition
    Social Epistemology 25 (4). 2011.
    Ronald Giere embraces the perspective of distributed cognition to think about cognition in the sciences. I argue that his conception of distributed cognition is flawed in that it bears all the marks of its predecessor; namely, individual cognition. I show what a proper (i.e. non-individual) distributed framework looks like, and highlight what it can and cannot do for the philosophy of science
  •  207
    Cooperative feeding and breeding, and the evolution of executive control
    Biology and Philosophy 27 (1): 115-124. 2012.
    Dubreuil (Biol Phil 25:53–73, 2010b , this journal) argues that modern-like cognitive abilities for inhibitory control and goal maintenance most likely evolved in Homo heidelbergensis , much before the evolution of oft-cited modern traits, such as symbolism and art. Dubreuil’s argument proceeds in two steps. First, he identifies two behavioral traits that are supposed to be indicative of the presence of a capacity for inhibition and goal maintenance: cooperative feeding and cooperative breeding.…Read more
  •  42
    Optimality vs. intent: Limitations of Dennett's artifact hermeneutics
    with Melissa van Amerongen
    Philosophical Psychology 21 (6). 2008.
    Dennett has argued that when people interpret artifacts and other designed objects ( such as biological items ) they rely on optimality considerations , rather than on designer's intentions. On his view , we infer an item's function by finding out what it is best at; and such functional attribution is more reliable than when we depend on the intention it was developed with. This paper examines research in cognitive psychology and archaeology , and argues that Dennett's account is implausible. We…Read more
  •  61
    Elsewhere, I have challenged virtue epistemology and argued that it doesn’t square with mundane cases of extended cognition. Kelp (forthcoming, this journal) and Greco (forthcoming) have responded to my charges, the former by questioning the force of my argument, the latter by developing a new virtue epistemology. Here I consider both responses. I show first that Kelp mischaracterizes my challenge. Subsequently, I identify two new problems for Greco’s new virtue epistemology
  •  347
    Evolutionary anthropologists and archaeologists have been considerably successful in modelling the cumulative evolution of culture, of technological skills and knowledge in particular. Recently, one of these models has been introduced in the philosophy of science by De Cruz and De Smedt (Philos Stud 157:411–429, 2012), in an attempt to demonstrate that scientists may collectively come to hold more truth-approximating beliefs, despite the cognitive biases which they individually are known to be s…Read more
  •  303
    How norms in technology ought to be interpreted
    Techne 10 (1): 117-133. 2006.
    This paper defends the claim that there are — at least — two kinds of normativity in technological practice. The first concerns what engineers ought to do and the second concerns normative statements about artifacts. The claim is controversial, since the standard approach to normativity, namely normative realism, actually denies artifacts any kind of normativity; according to the normative realist, normativity applies exclusively to human agents. In other words, normative realists hold that only…Read more
  •  36
    What exists in the environment that motivates the emergence, transmission, and sophistication of tool use?
    with Tetsushi Nonaka
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 35 (4): 233. 2012.
    In his attempt to find cognitive traits that set humans apart from nonhuman primates with respect to tool use, Vaesen overlooks the primacy of the environment toward the use of which behavior evolves. The occurrence of a particular behavior is a result of how that behavior has evolved in a complex and changing environment selected by a unique population
  •  242
    The functional bias of the dual nature of technical artefacts program
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 42 (1): 190-197. 2011.
    In 2006, in a special issue of this journal, several authors explored what they called the dual nature of artefacts. The core idea is simple, but attractive: to make sense of an artefact, one needs to consider both its physical nature—its being a material object—and its intentional nature—its being an entity designed to further human ends and needs. The authors construe the intentional component quite narrowly, though: it just refers to the artefact’s function, its being a means to realize a cer…Read more
  •  22
    Dewey on extended cognition and epistemology
    Philosophical Issues 24 (1): 426-438. 2014.
    There is a surge of attempts to draw out the epistemological consequences of views according to which cognition is deeply embedded, embodied and/or extended. The principal machinery used for doing so is that of analytic epistemology. Here I argue that Dewey's pragmatic epistemology may be better fit to the task. I start by pointing out the profound similarities between Dewey's view on cognition and that emerging from literature of more recent date. Crucially, the benefit of looking at Dewey is t…Read more
  •  1491
    The cognitive bases of human tool use
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 35 (4): 203-262. 2012.
    This article has two goals. First, it synthesizes and critically assesses current scientific knowledge about the cognitive bases of human tool use. Second, it shows how the cognitive traits reviewed help to explain why technological accumulation evolved so markedly in humans, and so modestly in apes.
  •  28
    How Norms in Technology Ought to Be Interpreted
    Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 10 (1): 95-108. 2006.
    This paper defends the claim that there are — at least — two kinds of normativity in technological practice. The first concerns what engineers ought to do and the second concerns normative statements about artifacts. The claim is controversial, since the standard approach to normativity, namely normative realism, actually denies artifacts any kind of normativity; according to the normative realist, normativity applies exclusively to human agents. In other words, normative realists hold that only…Read more