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. 3: Causal Network Accounts of Ill-being: Depression & Digital Well-being

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

In this podcast, I read my chapter, “Causal Network Accounts of Ill-being: Depression & Digital Well-being” from Ethics of Digital Well-being: A Multidisciplinary Approach. In this chapter, I review how well-being and ill-being can be understood in terms of the causal networks studied by economists, neuroscientists, psychologists, and other scientists. As with all of my writing, the free preprint can be found on my CV at byrdnick.com/cv under “Publications“.

If you want to hear more, you can subscribe 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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The meaning of ‘statistical significance’ and of p-values

A 2019 paper in the Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science found that most psychology textbooks, instructors, and students misinterpret ‘statistical significance’ and p values. Talk about a headline! More important than the headline, however, are the right interpretations and what we can do to correct widespread misinterpretations. In this post, I explain the authors’ findings and the three solutions they propose.

Continue reading The meaning of ‘statistical significance’ and of p-values

Upon Reflection Podcast Ep. 1: What We Can Infer About Implicit Bias

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

A screenshot of the first page of the paper "What We Can (And Can't) Infer About Implicit Bias From Debiasing Experiments".

In this podcast, I’ll be reading my paper entitled, “What We Can (And Can’t) Infer About Implicit Bias From Debiasing Experiments“. I argue that implicit bias is not entirely unconscious or involuntary, but it probably is associative. 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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Introduction to Philosophy: A Free Course


Below are the syllabus and materials for my Introduction to Philosophy course. You are welcome to use any of the material as a student or as an instructor. The usual creative commons license applies to my portion of this—i.e., only the stuff to which I would have a copyright. (If you are my student, remember that you can be quizzed on the contents of the syllabus.)

I. Introduction to Philosophy

Did you know that people who study philosophy make significantly fewer reasoning errors than others? (See Livengood et al 2010 and Byrd 2014). And did you know that philosophy majors outperform basically everyone else on the GRE? And did you know that the median mid-career salary for people who major in philosophy is $81,000? And did you know that philosophy majors were projected to be the top-paid humanities major in 2016? Find out more about philosophy majors here. And if you’ve never taken a philosophy class, you might want to read this 3-4 page intro. Continue reading Introduction to Philosophy: A Free Course