Nick Byrd’s Blog

On Inferring Mechanisms In Cognitive Science

One of the things that cognitive scientists do is look for, identify, and describe mechanisms. For example, cognitive scientists are interested in our ability (or proclivity) to ascribe mental states to others things and creatures. So, some posit a “theory of mind” mechanism. But, intuitively, there will not be a mechanism for every one of our abilities or behaviors. For example, it would be surprising if there were mechanism for driving a car. But if that is right, then we need principled reasons to think so. Or, at the very least, we need a story about why some of our abilities have mechanisms and others don’t. In this post, I’ll briefly consider four such stories. One of the take-aways will be that it is not obvious why some abilities (like driving a car) do not have mechanisms. Another take-away will be that it is not obvious what scientists mean by ‘mechanism’. Continue reading On Inferring Mechanisms In Cognitive Science

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

4 Steps Toward A 40-50 Hour Work Week

A handful of people have asked me about my daily and weekly work routine. Some people just want to know what philosophers do all day. Others are looking for ways to impose structure on their work week. In this post, I will share four (probably predictable) steps that have increased my productivity and lowered my stress.

Continue reading 4 Steps Toward A 40-50 Hour Work Week

Philosophy As Proto-Psychology

Philosophers are often trying to understand their intuitions about thought experiments. Traditionally, philosophers do this via introspection. But these days, some philosophers do it more scientifically: they survey people’s’ intuitions and use quantitative arguments for theories about the intuitions. In this post, I want to point out that one of philosophers’ traditional methods might be a kind of proto-psychology. And if that is right, you might wonder, “Is one method better than the other?” By the end of the post, you’ll know of at least one philosopher who argues that the more scientific approach is better. Continue reading Philosophy As Proto-Psychology

5 Thoughts About “Liberal Hypocrites”

Liberals prize inclusivity and tolerance. But liberals also criticize certain things — e.g., certain things that conservatives do. So liberals aren’t inclusive after all! Liberal hypocrites! Boo liberals! …or so the story goes.

Should liberals be inclusive and tolerant of everything? Are they hypocritical if they’re not? No. Of course not. For an explanation and context, here are five thoughts about liberals, hypocrisy, and tolerance. (Spoiler: I make multiple concessions to conservatives.)

Continue reading 5 Thoughts About “Liberal Hypocrites”

The Potential Benefits Of Not Believing In A Resurrection Of Jesus

Unsurprisingly, some Christians think it is important to believe that Jesus was resurrected. That seems intuitively plausible — for a Christian, at least. But in this post, I want to reflect on that intuition a bit. I will consider the possibility that everyone believed that Jesus never resurrected. Would that prevent the Christian religious, political, or social movement(s)? Would it undermine Christian faith? I don’t think that it’s obvious that it would. I explain why below. Continue reading The Potential Benefits Of Not Believing In A Resurrection Of Jesus

I Bought An Electric Height-adjustable Desk …and I love it.

I do not want to sit at a desk all day. Sometimes I want to stand. But for a long time, I was too cheap to buy an electric standing desk. Well, I finally bought one for around $200. I have used it for almost 9 months. And I love it. It has become one of the reasons that I look forward to going to the office: working at an electric height-adjustable desk is just really, really enjoyable. In this post, I will explain what I bought and why I like it. Continue reading I Bought An Electric Height-adjustable Desk …and I love it.