What good is reflective reasoning?


Philosophers and cognitive scientists tend to think that reflective reasoning will improve our judgments and decisions. The idea reflection will lead us to test our judgments by “looking for their coherence with our beliefs about similar cases and our beliefs about a broader range of …issues” a la reflective equilibrium. This sounds intuitively plausible. But is it true? In this post I briefly present some research suggesting that reflective reasoning often, but does not always improve our judgments and decisions.  Continue reading What good is reflective reasoning?

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.

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

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 byrdnick.com/cv. More details below.

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

Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 4: Online Conferences’ History, Methods, and Benefits

In this episode of Upon Reflection, I explain how academics should conference better. More accurately, I read my chapter, “Online Conferences: Some History, Methods, and Benefits” from Right Research: Modelling Sustainable Research Practices in the Anthropocene. This chapter reviews some history of online academic conferencing going back to the 1970s, explain the potential advantages of online conferences, report quantitative and qualitative results from three online conferences, and urge scholars to consider how they can contribute to a more sustainable, inclusive, and emergency resilient academy by replicating these online conferences.

Continue reading Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 4: Online Conferences’ History, Methods, and Benefits

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

Online Conferences: Some history, methods & data

In the wake of virus outbreaks in multiple countries, many scholars are reconsidering conference plans. As someone that has organized multiple online conferences—sometimes during states of emergencies—I have thought a lot about how online conferences can be more resilient to such emergencies. I have also found online conferences to be preferable in many other ways, which I explain in a paper about the history, methods, and findings of online conferences. The paper is currently under review for forthcoming in a collected volume about sustainable academic practices (see my CV). The accepted version of the manuscript is available for free below.

Continue reading Online Conferences: Some history, methods & data

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 explained or mediated by culture, education, gender, and personality. Here’s a handout from some presentations that I’ll be giving in 2020.

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