Upon Reflection, Ep. 10: Great Minds Do Not Think Alike

This time I read my 2022 paper in Review of Philosophy and Psychology titled, “Great Minds Do Not Think Alike: Philosophers’ Views Predicted by Reflection, Education, Personality, and Other Demographic Differences“. As the title suggests, various psychological factors predicted variance in philosophers’ answers to classic philosophical questions. This raises questions about how psychological and demographic differences can explain philosophical differences. There are also implications for scientific psychologists as well as academic philosophers.

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Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 9: Bounded Reflectivism & Epistemic Identity

In this episode, I read one of my 2022 articles in Metaphilosophy titled, “Bounded Reflectivism & Epistemic Identity“. Does reflective reasoning help or hinder our judgment? In this paper, I take a middle view between reflectivism and anti-reflectivism that I call bounded reflectivism. The idea is that reflection is a tool that can be used to improve our judgment or for other purposes (such as to defend the beliefs that we consider essential to our identity—a.k.a., our “epistemic identity”).

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Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 7: Unreflective Intentions Are Compatible With Free Will

On this episode of Upon Reflection, I read my 2021 paper in Logoi titled, “On Second Thought, Libet-style Unreflective Intentions May Be Compatible With Free Will“. Imagine if I could predict your behavior before you even became of your conscious of your intention to behave that way. Would this mean that you don’t have free will? I used to think so. In this paper, I explain why I was wrong: my view of free will involved magical thinking.

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Upon Reflection Podcast, Ep. 6: Your Health vs. My Liberty (COVID-19 Research Paper)

Welcome to the latest episode of Upon Reflection. This time, I read my paper with Michał Białek, “Your health vs. my liberty: Philosophical beliefs dominated reflection and identifiable victim effects when predicting public health recommendation compliance during the COVID-19 pandemic” (Total N = 998).

As the title suggests we found that complying with public health recommendations didn’t depend on whether people received messaging about identifiable COVID-19 victims or statistical victims in flatten the curve graphs. Rather compliance increased the more that people endorsed an effective altruist principle about reducing harm and the more that they endorsed the truth of scientific theories, but compliance decreased as people valued liberty more than equality. Importantly, we also found that people were less likely to prevent the spread of disease by wearing masks and staying at home if the pandemic was equally deadly, but labeled as a “flu” pandemic—-mostly because they perceived this as less threatening to society. We think this suggests that people’s life-threatening decisions to flout public health recommendations like mask-wearing and staying at home during the COVID-19 pandemic was not just about ineffective messaging, but also about their prior philosophical commitments.

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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.

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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.

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