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

The Roles of Intuition & Reflection in Skill & Expertise

Some people think that skill and expertise is unreflective and flow-like. Others disagree. They think that skillful and expert actions often accompany (or even require) reflection. In this post, I give you excerpts from well-known proponents of each view and try to clarify their disagreement. Continue reading The Roles of Intuition & Reflection in Skill & Expertise

5 Thoughts About “Liberal Hypocrites”

Liberals prize inclusivity and tolerance. But liberals also criticize certain things — e.g., certain things that conservatives do. So liberals aren’t inclusive after all! Liberal hypocrites! Boo liberals! …or so the story goes.

Should liberals be inclusive and tolerant of everything? Are they hypocritical if they’re not? No. Of course not. For an explanation and context, here are five thoughts about liberals, hypocrisy, and tolerance. (Spoiler: I make multiple concessions to conservatives.)

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The Institute of Art and Ideas Podcast: Europe’s (Superior) Answer to TED

I first learned about the Institute of Art and Ideas (IAI) a few years ago. I was watching one of the IAI’s debates about the limits of logic. The discussion was long form, but structured. And it included perspectives from multiple areas of expertise. For those reasons alone, the IAI had my attention. After all, you don’t typically get all that from American alternatives like TED or Talks at Google. In this post, I want to introduce the uninitiated to the IAI podcast by highlighting two of my favorite episodes. Continue reading The Institute of Art and Ideas Podcast: Europe’s (Superior) Answer to TED

How Arguments Work: The Basics

If you understand how arguments succeed and fail, then you can do some important stuff. You can construct a convincing argument, evaluate an argument, fix a broken argument, and — maybe most importantly — avoid being duped by a bullshit argument. So if any of that sounds interesting to you, then you’ll want to understand the basics of how arguments work. I’ll review those basics in the rest of this post.  Continue reading How Arguments Work: The Basics

Evaluate An Argument With Just ONE Flowchart

I love philosophy and science. I also love flowcharts because they can compress many pages of instruction into a simple chart. And three researchers from George Mason University and the University of Queensland have combined these three loves in a paper about climate change denialism. In their paper, they create a flowchart that shows how to find over a dozen fallacies in over 40 denialist claims! In this post, I’ll explain this argument-checking flowchart. First, we will identify a common denialist claim and then evaluate the argument for it. Continue reading Evaluate An Argument With Just ONE Flowchart

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.

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