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Profile: Helen De Cruz
Profile: Helen De Cruz (Oxford University)
  1. Helen De Cruz (2014). Cognitive Science of Religion and the Study of Theological Concepts. Topoi 33 (2):487-497.
    The cultural transmission of theological concepts remains an underexplored topic in the cognitive science of religion (CSR). In this paper, I examine whether approaches from CSR, especially the study of content biases in the transmission of beliefs, can help explain the cultural success of some theological concepts. This approach reveals that there is more continuity between theological beliefs and ordinary religious beliefs than CSR authors have hitherto recognized: the cultural transmission of theological concepts is influenced by content biases that also (...)
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  2. Helen De Cruz (2014). The Enduring Appeal of Natural Theological Arguments. Philosophy Compass 9 (2):145-153.
    Natural theology is the branch of theology and philosophy that attempts to gain knowledge of God through non-revealed sources. In a narrower sense, natural theology is the discipline that presents rational arguments for the existence of God. Given that these arguments rarely directly persuade those who are not convinced by their conclusions, why do they enjoy an enduring appeal? This article examines two reasons for the continuing popularity of natural theological arguments: (i) they appeal to intuitions that humans robustly hold (...)
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  3. Helen De Cruz (2014). Where Philosophical Intuitions Come From. Australasian Journal of Philosophy:1-17.
    Intuitions play a central role in analytic philosophy, but their psychological basis is little understood. This paper provides an empirically-informed, psychological char- acterization of philosophical intuitions. Drawing on McCauley’s distinction between maturational and practiced naturalness, I argue that philosophical intuitions originate from several early-developed, specialized domains of core knowledge (maturational naturalness). Eliciting and deploying such intuitions in argumentative contexts is the domain of philosophical expertise, thus philosophical intuitions are also practiced nat- ural. This characterization has implications for the evidential value (...)
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  4. Helen De Cruz & Yves Maeseneer (2014). The Imago Dei: Evolutionary and Theological Perspectives. Zygon 49 (1):95-100.
    This short article provides an introduction to a special section, consisting of six papers on human evolution and the imago Dei. These papers are the result of dialogue between theologians and philosophers of religion at the University of Oxford and the Catholic University of Leuven. All contributors focus on the imago Dei, and consider how this theological notion can be understood from an evolutionary perspective, looking at a variety of disciplines, including the psychology of reasoning, cognitive science of religion, paleoanthropology, (...)
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  5. Johan De Smedt & Helen De Cruz (2014). The Imago Dei as a Work in Progress: A Perspective From Paleoanthropology. Zygon 49 (1):135-156.
    This article considers the imago Dei from the perspective of paleoanthropology. We identify structural, functional, and relational elements of the imago Dei that emerged mosaically during human evolution. Humans are unique in their ability to relate to each other and to God, and in their membership of cultural communities where shared attention, the transmission of moral norms, and symbolic behavior are important elements. We discuss similarities between our approach and the concept of theosis adopted in the Eastern Orthodox Church.
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  6. Helen De Cruz (2013). Is Teaching Children Young Earth Creationism Child Abuse? The Philosophers' Magazine 63:21-23.
    Richard Dawkins has argued on several occasions that bringing up your child religiously is a form of child abuse. According to Dawkins, teaching children about religion is fine (it helps them to understand cultural references, for instance), but indoctrinating children – by which Dawkins means any form of education that teaches religious beliefs as facts – is morally wrong and harmful. Dawkins is not alone: the American theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss, for instance, recently argued that teaching Young Earth Creationism (henceforth (...)
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  7. Helen De Cruz & Johan De Smedt (2013). Mathematical Symbols as Epistemic Actions. Synthese 190 (1):3-19.
    Recent experimental evidence from developmental psychology and cognitive neuroscience indicates that humans are equipped with unlearned elementary mathematical skills. However, formal mathematics has properties that cannot be reduced to these elementary cognitive capacities. The question then arises how human beings cognitively deal with more advanced mathematical ideas. This paper draws on the extended mind thesis to suggest that mathematical symbols enable us to delegate some mathematical operations to the external environment. In this view, mathematical symbols are not only used to (...)
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  8. Helen De Cruz & Johan De Smedt (2013). Reformed and Evolutionary Epistemology and the Noetic Effects of Sin. International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 74 (1):49-66.
    Despite their divergent metaphysical assumptions, Reformed and evolutionary epistemologists have converged on the notion of proper basicality. Where Reformed epistemologists appeal to God, who has designed the mind in such a way that it successfully aims at the truth, evolutionary epistemologists appeal to natural selection as a mechanism that favors truth-preserving cognitive capacities. This paper investigates whether Reformed and evolutionary epistemological accounts of theistic belief are compatible. We will argue that their chief incompatibility lies in the noetic effects of sin (...)
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  9. Helen De Cruz & Johan De Smedt (2013). The Value of Epistemic Disagreement in Scientific Practice. The Case of Homo Floresiensis. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (2):169–177.
    Epistemic peer disagreement raises interesting questions, both in epistemology and in philosophy of science. When is it reasonable to defer to the opinion of others, and when should we hold fast to our original beliefs? What can we learn from the fact that an epistemic peer disagrees with us? A question that has received relatively little attention in these debates is the value of epistemic peer disagreement—can it help us to further epistemic goals, and, if so, how? We investigate this (...)
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  10. Johan De Smedt & Helen De Cruz (2013). Delighting in Natural Beauty: Joint Attention and the Phenomenology of Nature Aesthetics. European Journal for Philosophy of Religion 5 (4):167-186.
    Empirical research in the psychology of nature appreciation suggests that humans across cultures tend to evaluate nature in positive aesthetic terms, including a sense of beauty and awe. They also frequently engage in joint attention with other persons, whereby they are jointly aware of sharing attention to the same event or object. This paper examines how, from a natural theological perspective, delight in natural beauty can be conceptualized as a way of joining attention to creation. Drawing on an analogy between (...)
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  11. Johan De Smedt & Helen De Cruz (2013). The Artistic Design Stance and the Interpretation of Paleolithic Art. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (2):139-140.
    The artistic design stance is an important part of art appreciation, but it remains unclear how it can be applied to artworks for which art historical context is no longer available, such as Ice Age art. We propose that some of the designer's intentions can be gathered noninferentially through direct experience with prehistoric artworks.
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  12. Helen de Cruz & Johan de Smedt (2012). Evolved Cognitive Biases and the Epistemic Status of Scientific Beliefs. Philosophical Studies 157 (3):411-429.
    Our ability for scientific reasoning is a byproduct of cognitive faculties that evolved in response to problems related to survival and reproduction. Does this observation increase the epistemic standing of science, or should we treat scientific knowledge with suspicion? The conclusions one draws from applying evolutionary theory to scientific beliefs depend to an important extent on the validity of evolutionary arguments (EAs) or evolutionary debunking arguments (EDAs). In this paper we show through an analytical model that cultural transmission of scientific (...)
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  13. Maarten Boudry, Helen De Cruz, Stefaan Blancke & Johan De Smedt (2011). Het 'Universele Zuur' van de Evolutionaire Psychologie? Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 73 (2):287-305.
    In a previous issue of Tijdschrift voor Filosofie, Filip Buekens argues that evolutionary psychology (EP), or some interpretations thereof, have a corrosive impact on our ‘manifest self-image’. Buekens wants to defend and protect the global adequacy of this manifest self-image in the face of what he calls evolutionary revisionism. Although we largely agree with Buekens’ central argument, we criticize his analysis on several accounts, making some constructive proposals to strengthen his case. First, Buekens’ argument fails to target EP, because his (...)
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  14. Helen de Cruz, Maarten Boudry, Johan de Smedt & Stefaan Blancke (2011). Evolutionary Approaches to Epistemic Justification. Dialectica 65 (4):517-535.
    What are the consequences of evolutionary theory for the epistemic standing of our beliefs? Evolutionary considerations can be used to either justify or debunk a variety of beliefs. This paper argues that evolutionary approaches to human cognition must at least allow for approximately reliable cognitive capacities. Approaches that portray human cognition as so deeply biased and deficient that no knowledge is possible are internally incoherent and self-defeating. As evolutionary theory offers the current best hope for a naturalistic epistemology, evolutionary approaches (...)
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  15. Johan de Smedt & Helen de Cruz (2011). A Cognitive Approach to the Earliest Art. Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 69 (4):379-389.
    This paper takes a cognitive perspective to assess the significance of some Late Palaeolithic artefacts (sculptures and engraved objects) for philosophicalconcepts of art. We examine cognitive capacities that are necessary to produceand recognize objects that are denoted as art. These include the ability toattribute and infer design (design stance), the ability to distinguish between themateriality of an object and its meaning (symbol-mindedness), and an aesthetic sensitivity to some perceptual stimuli. We investigate to what extent thesecognitive processes played a role in (...)
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  16. Johan De Smedt & Helen De Cruz, The Cognitive Appeal of the Cosmological Argument.
    The cosmological argument has enjoyed and still enjoys substantial popularity in various traditions of natural theology. We propose that its enduring appeal is due at least in part to its concurrence with human cognitive predispositions, in particular intuitions about causality and agency. These intuitions seem to be a stable part of human cognition. We will consider implications for the justification of the cosmological argument from externalist and internalist perspectives.
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  17. Christian Ferencz-Flatz, Maarten Boudry, Helen de Cruz, Johan Smedt, Zwarte Doos Ban Pandora, Katrien Schaubroeck, Jens de Vleminck, Ignace Verhack, Nicolas de Warren & Steven Spileers (2011). Das Beispiel bei Husserl. Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 73 (2):261.
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  18. Helen De Cruz & Johan De Smedt (2010). The Innateness Hypothesis and Mathematical Concepts. Topoi 29 (1):3-13.
    In historical claims for nativism, mathematics is a paradigmatic example of innate knowledge. Claims by contemporary developmental psychologists of elementary mathematical skills in human infants are a legacy of this. However, the connection between these skills and more formal mathematical concepts and methods remains unclear. This paper assesses the current debates surrounding nativism and mathematical knowledge by teasing them apart into two distinct claims. First, in what way does the experimental evidence from infants, nonhuman animals and neuropsychology support the nativist (...)
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  19. Helen de Cruz & Johan de Smedt (2010). Paley's Ipod: The Cognitive Basis of the Design Argument Within Natural Theology. Zygon 45 (3):665-684.
    The argument from design stands as one of the most intuitively compelling arguments for the existence of a divine Creator. Yet, for many scientists and philosophers, Hume's critique and Darwin's theory of natural selection have definitely undermined the idea that we can draw any analogy from design in artifacts to design in nature. Here, we examine empirical studies from developmental and experimental psychology to investigate the cognitive basis of the design argument. From this it becomes clear that humans spontaneously discern (...)
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  20. Helen De Cruz (2009). Is Linguistic Determinism an Empirically Testable Hypothesis? Logique Et Analyse 208 (208):327-341.
  21. Helen De Cruz (2008). An Extended Mind Perspective on Natural Number Representation. Philosophical Psychology 21 (4):475 – 490.
    Experimental studies indicate that nonhuman animals and infants represent numerosities above three or four approximately and that their mental number line is logarithmic rather than linear. In contrast, human children from most cultures gradually acquire the capacity to denote exact cardinal values. To explain this difference, I take an extended mind perspective, arguing that the distinctly human ability to use external representations as a complement for internal cognitive operations enables us to represent natural numbers. Reviewing neuroscientific, developmental, and anthropological evidence, (...)
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  22. Helen De Cruz (2008). Bridging the Gap Between Intuitive and Formal Number Concepts: An Epidemiological Perspective. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 31 (6):649-650.
    The failure of current bootstrapping accounts to explain the emergence of the concept of natural numbers does not entail that no link exists between intuitive and formal number concepts. The epidemiology of representations allows us to explain similarities between intuitive and formal number concepts without requiring that the latter are directly constructed from the former.
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  23. Helen De Cruz & Pierre Pica (2008). Knowledge of Number and Knowledge of Language: Number as a Test Case for the Role of Language in Cognition. Philosophical Psychology 21 (4):437 – 441.
    The relationship between language and conceptual thought is an unresolved problem in both philosophy and psychology. It remains unclear whether linguistic structure plays a role in our cognitive processes. This special issue brings together cognitive scientists and philosophers to focus on the role of language in numerical cognition: because of their universality and variability across languages, number words can serve as a fruitful test case to investigate claims of linguistic relativism.
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  24. Helen De Cruz (2007). How Does Complex Mathematical Theory Arise? Phylogenetic and Cultural Origins of Algebra. In Carlos Gershenson, Diederik Aerts & Bruce Edmonds (eds.), Worldviews, Science, and Us: Philosophy and Complexity. World Scientific.
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  25. Helen De Cruz (2007). An Enhanced Argument for Innate Elementary Geometric Knowledge and its Philosophical Implications. In Bart Van Kerkhove (ed.), New perspectives on mathematical practices. Essays in philosophy and history of mathematics. World Scientific.
    The idea that formal geometry derives from intuitive notions of space has appeared in many guises, most notably in Kant’s argument from geometry. Kant claimed that an a priori knowledge of spatial relationships both allows and constrains formal geometry: it serves as the actual source of our cognition of principles of geometry and as a basis for its further cultural development. The development of non-Euclidean geometries, however, seemed to definitely undermine the idea that there is some privileged relationship between our (...)
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  26. Helen De Cruz & Johan De Smedt (2007). The Role of Intuitive Ontologies in Scientific Understanding – the Case of Human Evolution. Biology and Philosophy 22 (3):351-368.
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  27. Helen De Cruz (2006). Towards a Darwinian Approach to Mathematics. Foundations of Science 11 (1-2):157-196.
    In the past decades, recent paradigm shifts in ethology, psychology, and the social sciences have given rise to various new disciplines like cognitive ethology and evolutionary psychology. These disciplines use concepts and theories of evolutionary biology to understand and explain the design, function and origin of the brain. I shall argue that there are several good reasons why this approach could also apply to human mathematical abilities. I will review evidence from various disciplines (cognitive ethology, cognitive psychology, cognitive archaeology and (...)
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  28. Helen De Cruz (2004). Why Humans Can Count Large Quantities Accurately. Philosophica 74.
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