•  5
    The meta-wisdom of crowds
    Synthese 1-24. forthcoming.
    It is well-known that people will adjust their first-order beliefs based on observations of others. We explore how such adjustments interact with second-order beliefs regarding universalism and relativism in a population. Across a range of simulations, we show that populations where individuals have a tendency toward universalism converge more quickly in coordination problems, and generate higher total payoffs, than do populations where individuals have a tendency toward relativism. Thus, in con…Read more
  • How Can Psychology Contribute to the Free Will Debate?
    In John Baer, James C. Kaufman & Roy F. Baumeister (eds.), Are We Free?: Psychology and Free Will, Oup Usa. 2008.
  •  326
    Cause and burn
    Cognition 207 (104517): 104517. 2021.
    Many philosophers maintain that causation is to be explicated in terms of a kind of dependence between cause and effect. These “dependence” theories are opposed by “production” accounts which hold that there is some more fundamental causal “oomph”. A wide range of experimental research on everyday causal judgments seems to indicate that ordinary people operate primarily with a dependence-based notion of causation. For example, people tend to say that absences and double preventers are causes. …Read more
  •  26
    Generating Explanatory Gaps
    with B. Fiala
    Journal of Consciousness Studies 26 (9-10): 71-82. 2019.
    We develop a partial solution to the meta-problem of consciousness that builds on our previous psychological account of an apparent explanatory gap. Drawing from empirical work on explanatory cognition and conceptual development, we sketch a profile of cognitive systems for which primitive concepts facilitate explanatory gaps. This account predicts that there will be multiple explanatory gaps. We suggest that this is borne out by the existence of primitivist theories in multiple philosophical do…Read more
  •  11
    Is Desert in the Details?
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 82 (1): 121-133. 2011.
  •  7
    Imagination and the puzzles of iteration
    Analysis 63 (3): 182-187. 2003.
  • Moral rules and moral dilemmas
    with R. Mallon
    Cognition 100 530-542. 2006.
  •  24
  •  174
    An important motivation for relational theories of color is that they resolve apparent conflicts about color: x can, without contradiction, be red relative to S1 and not red relative to S2. Alas, many philosophers claim that the view is incompatible with naive, phenomenally grounded introspection. However, when we presented normal adults with apparent conflicts about color (among other properties), we found that many were open to the relationalist's claim that apparently competing variants can s…Read more
  •  321
    The everyday capacity to understand the mind, or 'mindreading', plays an enormous role in our ordinary lives. Shaun Nichols and Stephen Stich provide a detailed and integrated account of the intricate web of mental components underlying this fascinating and multifarious skill. The imagination, they argue, is essential to understanding others, and there are special cognitive mechanisms for understanding oneself. The account that emerges has broad implications for longstanding philosophical debate…Read more
  •  173
    The claim that common sense regards free will and moral responsibility as compatible with determinism has played a central role in both analytic and experimental philosophy. In this paper, we show that evidence in favor of this “natural compatibilism” is undermined by the role that indeterministic metaphysical views play in how people construe deterministic scenarios. To demonstrate this, we re-examine two classic studies that have been used to support natural compatibilism. We find that althoug…Read more
  •  186
    Recent work in developmental psychology indicates that children naturally think that psychological states continue after death. One important candidate explanation for why this belief is natural appeals to the idea that we believe in immortality because we can't imagine our own nonexistence. This paper explores this old idea. To begin, I present a qualified statement of the thesis that we can't imagine our own nonexistence. I argue that the most prominent explanation for this obstacle, Freud's, …Read more
  • Oxford Studies in Experimental Philosophy, Volume 4 (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
  •  293
    Folk psychology: Simulation or tacit theory?
    with Stephen Stich
    Mind and Language 7 (1-2): 35-71. 1992.
    A central goal of contemporary cognitive science is the explanation of cognitive abilities or capacities. [Cummins 1983] During the last three decades a wide range of cognitive capacities have been subjected to careful empirical scrutiny. The adult's ability to produce and comprehend natural language sentences and the child's capacity to acquire a natural language were among the first to be explored. [Chomsky 1965, Fodor, Bever & Garrett 1974, Pinker 1989] There is also a rich literature on the …Read more
  •  100
    Sentimental Rules: On the Natural Foundations of Moral Judgment
    Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (3): 727-729. 2007.
  •  13
    Recreative Minds
    Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 62 (4): 406-407. 2004.
  •  68
    Recreative Minds
    Mind 113 (450): 329-334. 2004.
  •  545
    Teleological Essentialism: Generalized
    with David Rose
    Cognitive Science 44 (3). 2020.
    Natural/social kind essentialism is the view that natural kind categories, both living and non-living natural kinds, as well as social kinds (e.g., race, gender), are essentialized. On this view, artifactual kinds are not essentialized. Our view—teleological essentialism—is that a broad range of categories are essentialized in terms of teleology, including artifacts. Utilizing the same kinds of experiments typically used to provide evidence of essentialist thinking—involving superficial chang…Read more
  •  75
    Death and the Self
    with Nina Strohminger, Arun Rai, and Jay Garfield
    Cognitive Science 42 (S1): 314-332. 2018.
    It is an old philosophical idea that if the future self is literally different from the current self, one should be less concerned with the death of the future self. This paper examines the relation between attitudes about death and the self among Hindus, Westerners, and three Buddhist populations. Compared with other groups, monastic Tibetans gave particularly strong denials of the continuity of self, across several measures. We predicted that the denial of self would be associated with a lower…Read more
  •  45
    Remembering Past Lives
    In Helen De Cruz & Ryan Nichols (eds.), Advances in Religion, Cognitive Science, and Experimental Philosophy, Bloomsbury. pp. 169-196. 2016.
    The aim of this chapter is to address the role of memory in past-life convictions. Although it is commonly accepted in the modern media - and popular western culture more generally - that people believe they have lived before because the memory contains detailed verifiable facts, little is known about how people actually reason about the veracity of their previous existence. To our knowledge, the current project is the most extensive research that probes the role of memory in past life convictio…Read more
  •  51
    Self-Conscious Emotions Without a Self
    Philosophers' Imprint 19. 2019.
    Recent discussions of emotions in Buddhism suggest that one of the canonical self-conscious emotions, shame, is an emotion to be endorsed and indeed cultivated. The canonical texts in the Abhidharma Buddhist tradition, endorse hiri as one of the wholesome factors “always found in all good minds” and as one of “the guardians of the world”. Shame is widely taken to be a self-conscious emotion, and so if hiri counts as shame, this seems to be in tension with the central Buddhist claim that we shoul…Read more
  •  123
    Ambiguous Reference
    Mind 125 (497): 145-175. 2016.
    One of the central debates in the philosophy of language is that between defenders of the causal-historical and descriptivist theories of reference. Most philosophers involved in the debate support one or the other of the theories. Building on recent experimental work in semantics, we argue that there is a sense in which both theories are correct. In particular, we defend the view that natural kind terms can sometimes take on a causal-historical reading and at other times take on a descriptivist…Read more
  •  51
    Agent‐Regret and Accidental Agency
    Midwest Studies in Philosophy 43 (1): 181-202. 2019.
    Midwest Studies In Philosophy, EarlyView.
  •  74
    Variations in ethical intuitions
    with Jennifer L. Zamzow
    Philosophical Issues 19 (1): 368-388. 2009.
    No Abstract
  •  102
    There is a large tradition of work in moral psychology that explores the capacity for moral judgment by focusing on the basic capacity to distinguish moral violations (e.g. hitting another person) from conventional violations (e.g. playing with your food). However, only recently have there been attempts to characterize the cognitive mechanisms underlying moral judgment (e.g. Cognition 57 (1995) 1; Ethics 103 (1993) 337). Recent evidence indicates that affect plays a crucial role in mediating the…Read more
  •  120
    Introspection plays a crucial role in Modern philosophy in two different ways. From the beginnings of Modern philosophy, introspection has been used a tool for philosophical exploration in a variety of thought experiments. But Modern philosophers (e.g., Locke and Hume) also tried to characterize the nature of introspection as a psychological phenomenon. In contemporary philosophy, introspection is still frequently used in thought experiments. And in the analytic tradition, philosophers have trie…Read more
  •  3219
    Memory and the Sense of Personal Identity
    with Stan Klein
    Mind 121 (483): 677-702. 2012.
    Memory of past episodes provides a sense of personal identity — the sense that I am the same person as someone in the past. We present a neurological case study of a patient who has accurate memories of scenes from his past, but for whom the memories lack the sense of mineness. On the basis of this case study, we propose that the sense of identity derives from two components, one delivering the content of the memory and the other generating the sense of mineness. We argue that this new model of …Read more
  •  33
    Introspection plays a crucial role in Modern philosophy in two different ways. From the beginnings of Modern philosophy, introspection has been used a tool for philosophical exploration in a variety of thought experiments. But Modern philosophers also tried to characterize the nature of introspection as a psychological phenomenon. In contemporary philosophy, introspection is still frequently used in thought experiments. And in the analytic tradition, philosophers have tried to characterize conce…Read more