Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 5: Reflective Reasoning For Real People (Dissertation Overview)

Welcome to Upon Reflection. In this episode, I review the major take-aways and findings from my dissertation titled, “Reflective Reasoning For Real People”. I explain what cognitive scientists mean by terms like “reflective reasoning”, how reflection is measured empirically, how reflection can either help or hinder our reasoning, how more reflective philosophers tend toward certain philosophical beliefs, and how reflection may help us retrain our implicit biases.

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New paper: “Your Health vs. My Liberty”

How might messaging, reasoning, and philosophical beliefs predict people’s responses to pandemics? Michał Białek and I started wondering about this a few months ago. So we ran some experiments to find out. Our pre-registered hypothesis was wrong, but the other findings were really interesting. Before I get to the findings, consider making some predictions: ask yourself how you expect the following variables to correlate with compliance (or non-compliance) with public health officials’ recommendations such as mask-wearing and sheltering in place:

  • Flatten the curve graphs: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Reflective reasoning: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Mathematical competence: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Economic conservatism: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Social conservatism: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Libertarianism: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Effective altruism: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Utilitarian sacrificial harm: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Belief in God: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Religiosity: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Compatibism about free will: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Identifying as White: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
  • Identifying as a man: Related to compliance? More or less compliance?
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Anders Ericsson (1947-2020)

My colleagues and I are deeply saddened about the unexpected passing of Anders Ericsson on June 17. Dr. Ericsson was not only a massive figure in psychology, philosophy, performance, and beyond but—in my experience—an outstanding person.

Standout Memories

There is much to say about Anders. I can speak only to the past few years—and only a slice of it. Nonetheless, that slice of Anders is rich. Indulge me just three stories.

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On Whether Reflection Is A Skill

In my last post, I considered whether reflective reasoning is a virtue. One possibility was that reflection cannot be a virtue. However, if reflection is not a virtue, then we need another account of why many people value reflection. One such account might be that reflection is a skill. In this post, I’ll briefly consider some reasons for and against thinking that reflection is a skill.

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On Whether Reflection Is A Virtue


Some philosophers think of rationality in terms of virtue. For them, the rational thing to do is what the epistemically virtuous person would do. One type of reasoning that I study is reflective reasoning in which we step back and reconsider a gut reaction. So I have found myself asking, “Is reflective reasoning a virtue?” In this post, I’ll briefly consider reasons for answering “yes” and reasons for answering “no.” Continue reading On Whether Reflection Is A Virtue

How Questions Can Enhance Teaching & Learning

I’m rereading James Lang’s Small Teaching (2016). The first time I read it, I found it to be outstandingly helpful for thinking about course design, lesson planning, assignments, and more. In this post, I want to share my notes from Lang’s chapter on “The Retrieval Effect” (Chapter 1).

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New Talk: Great Minds Do Not Think Alike

I’ll be presenting new data from a pre-registered replication at some conferences in the next few months. The study replicated findings that less reflective philosophers tended towards certain philosophical views. It also finds that philosophical views are somewhat predicted by culture, education, gender, and personality. Here’s my handout.

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