New paper: “Your Health vs. My Liberty”

Why did otherwise life affirming people flout public health recommendations during the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • Was it leaders’ messaging? For example, are “flatten the curve” graphs about statistical victims less effective than information about identifiable victims?
  • Was it people’s reasoning? Do some people not think carefully enough about public health? Might people who better at math better understand public health information involving concepts like exponential growth and probability?
  • Was it people’s philosophical preferences? Do some people just care more about preventing harm? Do others prioritize personal liberty over pubic health? Do people’s beliefs about science matter? Religion?

Michał Białek and I investigated. In short, we found that flouting public health recommendations was less about messaging or reasoning than philosophical beliefs, especially beliefs about our duties to others, liberty, and science. The paper is under review now published in Cognition. As always, you can find a free copy of the paper on my CV at More details below.

Continue reading New paper: “Your Health vs. My Liberty”

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 in just three stories.

Continue reading Anders Ericsson (1947-2020)

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 those with a Ph.D. in philosophy are more reflective, that less reflective philosophers tended towards certain philosophical views, and that some of these reflection-philosophy correlations are partly confoudned with culture, education, gender, or personality.

March 2022 update: these data are in a paper that was accepted by Review of Philosophy & Psychology.

Related posts

Upon Reflection, Ep. 2: Not All Who Ponder Count Costs – Reflection & Moral Dilemmas

In this podcast episode , I’ll be reading Paul Conway’s and my recent 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 under “Publications“.

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

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.


A Dissertation About Reflective Reasoning in Philosophy, Morality, & Bias

One of the things that I worked on in 2018 was a dissertation about the roles of reflective reasoning in philosophy, morality, and bias. Pending a follow-up study for one chapter, every chapter is written and has enjoyed at least one round of comments—and some of the chapters are under review. As the chapters find homes in journals, I will be sure to post preprints and links to the online publication on my blog and in my social media feeds. So, ya know, follow those if you want more updates. In this post, I’ll give you drafts of the abstracts for each chapter, so that you can get a birds-eye view of the dissertation project.†

[Update: audio and video of the introduction to the dissertation defense is now available.]

Continue reading A Dissertation About Reflective Reasoning in Philosophy, Morality, & Bias

50+ Philosophy Podcasts

Philosophy takes many forms. So do its podcasts. Here are some of the most popular philosophy podcasts that I have found. I listen to almost all of them, so feel free to contact me if you have questions that are not answered in each podcast’s description below.

Continue reading 50+ Philosophy Podcasts

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