Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 3: Not All Who Ponder Count Costs – Reflection & Moral Dilemmas

Welcome to the third episode of Upon Reflection, a podcast about what we think as well as how and why we think it.

A screen shot of Nick Byrd and Paul Conway's 2019 paper "Not All Who Ponder Count Costs"

In this podcast, I’ll be reading my paper about moral dilemmas entitled, “Not all who ponder count costs: Arithmetic reflection predicts utilitarian tendencies, but logical reflection predicts both deontological and utilitarian tendencies“. In this paper we find that—contrary to some dual process theories’ claims—consequentialist responses to moral dilemmas may not be more reflective per se, but rather more influenced by mathematical information. As with all of my papers, the free preprint of the paper can be found on my CV at byrdnick.com/cv under “Publications“.

If this sounds like the kind of research that you want to hear more about, you can subscribe to Upon Reflection wherever you find podcasts. You can also find out more about me and my research on Twitter via @byrd_nick, or on Facebook via @byrdnick. If you end up enjoying the Upon Reflection podcast, then feel free to tell people about it, online, in person, or in your ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review.

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New Paper: What We Can (And Can’t) Infer About Implicit Bias From Debiasing Experiments


Synthese has just published one of my papers on implicit bias. As with all of my papers, you can find a link to the free preprint on my CV: byrdnick.com/cv. The final, corrected, and typeset version is on Synthese’s website and the audio version is on my podcast. In this post, you will find a non-technical overview of the paper’s main point and then the TLDR explainer.

Continue reading New Paper: What We Can (And Can’t) Infer About Implicit Bias From Debiasing Experiments

On Inferring Mechanisms In Cognitive Science


One of the things that cognitive scientists do is look for, identify, and describe mechanisms. For example, cognitive scientists are interested in our ability (or proclivity) to ascribe mental states to others things and creatures. So, some posit a “theory of mind” mechanism. But, intuitively, there will not be a mechanism for every one of our abilities or behaviors. For example, it would be surprising if there were mechanism for driving a car. But if that is right, then we need principled reasons to think so. Or, at the very least, we need a story about why some of our abilities have mechanisms and others don’t. In this post, I’ll briefly consider four such stories. One of the take-aways will be that it is not obvious why some abilities (like driving a car) do not have mechanisms. Another take-away will be that it is not obvious what scientists mean by ‘mechanism’. Continue reading On Inferring Mechanisms In Cognitive Science

Philosophy As Proto-Psychology


Philosophers are often trying to understand their intuitions about thought experiments. Traditionally, philosophers do this via introspection. But these days, some philosophers do it more scientifically: they survey people’s’ intuitions and use quantitative arguments for theories about the intuitions. In this post, I want to point out that one of philosophers’ traditional methods might be a kind of proto-psychology. And if that is right, you might wonder, “Is one method better than the other?” By the end of the post, you’ll know of at least one philosopher who argues that the more scientific approach is better. Continue reading Philosophy As Proto-Psychology

3 Obstacles For Research About Cheating & Morality


What if traveling abroad were somehow bad for you? Well, a series of studies seem to find that “[traveling abroad] can lead to [lying and cheating] by increasing moral relativism” (Lu et al 2017, 1, 3). This finding has just the right combination of intuitive plausibility and surprise for us to want to share it uncritically. So, instead, let’s take a look at the methods, measures, and philosophical nuances of the topic. As usual, a bit of reflection makes the finding a bit less exciting and it reveals a need for follow-up research.

Continue reading 3 Obstacles For Research About Cheating & Morality

Domain-familiarity & The Cognitive Reflection Test


This week I’m commenting on Nicholas Shea and Chris Frith’s “Dual-process theories and consciousness: the case for ‘Type Zero’ cognition” (2016) (open access) over at  the Brains blog. My abstract is below. Head over to Brains for the full comments and subsequent discussion.

Abstract

Type 1 and type 2 cognition are standard fare in psychology. Now Shea and Frith (2016) introduce type 0 cognition. This new category of cognition manifests from existing distinctions — (a) conscious vs. unconscious and (b) deliberate vs. automatic. Why do existing distinctions result in a new category? Because Shea and Frith (henceforth SF) apply each distinction to a different concept: one to representation and the other to processing. The result is a 2-by-2 taxonomy like the one below. This taxonomy classifies automatic processing over unconscious representations as type 0 cognition. And, deviating from convention, this taxonomy classified automatic processing over conscious representation(s) as type 1 cognition.

PROCESSING
AutomaticDeliberate
REPRESENTATIONUnconsciousType 0?
ConsciousType 1Type 2

According to SF, we deploy each type of cognition more or less successfully depending on our familiarity with the domain. When we’re familiar with the domain, we may not need to integrate information from other domains (via conscious representation) and/or deliberately attend to each step of our reasoning. So in a familiar domain, type 0 cognition might suffice.

SF briefly mention how this relates to the cognitive reflection test (CRT) (Frederick 2005). There is a puzzle about how to interpret CRT responses that do not fit a common dual-process interpretation of the CRT. In what follows, I will show how SF’s notion of domain-familiarity can make sense of these otherwise puzzling CRT responses.

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Image: “Wiffel ball” from Andrew Malone as modified by Nick ByrdCC BY 2.0

 

Why Critical Reasoning Might Not Require Self-knowledge


I recently reread Tyler Burge’s “Our Entitlement to Self-knowledge” (1996). Burge argues that our capacity for critical reasoning entails a capacity for self-knowledge.

Like a lot of philosophy, this paper is barely connected to the relevant science. So when I find myself disagreeing with the authors’ assumptions, I’m not sure whether the disagreement matters. After all, we might disagree because we have different, unfalsifiable intuitions. But if we disagree about facts, then it matters: one of us is demonstrably wrong. In this post I will articulate my disagreement. I will also try to figure out whether it matters. Continue reading Why Critical Reasoning Might Not Require Self-knowledge