Children learn about the world from the testimony of other people, often coming to accept what they are told about a variety of unobservable and indeed counter-intuitive phenomena. However, research on children’s learning from testimony has paid limited attention to the foundations of that capacity. We ask whether those foundations can be observed in infancy. We review evidence from two areas of research: infants’ sensitivity to the emotional expressions of other people; and their capacity to understand the exchange of information (...) through non-verbal gestures and vocalization. We conclude that a grasp of the bi-directional exchange of information is present early in the second year. We discuss the implications for future research, especially across different cultural settings. (shrink)
(2012). Inviting People to Climate Parties: Differentiating National and Individual Responsibilities for Mitigation. Ethics, Policy & Environment: Vol. 15, No. 3, pp. 309-313. doi: 10.1080/21550085.2012.730242.
For over two decades, international environmental equity - the fair and just sharing of the burdens associated with environmental changes - has been the subject of much debate by philosophers, activists and diplomats concerned about climate change. It has been manifested in many international environmental agreements, notably the Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol. The question arises as to whether it is being put into practice in this context. Are the requirements of international environmental equity merely words (...) and principles in international instruments, or are they having a practical effect on the policies of state governments? This article aims to start answering these questions. It examines whether the European Union (EU) and its member states are sharing the burdens of climate change. The article introduces equity in the context of the climate change agreements and looks at some normative and practical considerations. It suggests that Europe has been a leader on international equity in the climate change negotiations over the last decade, and it points to what European states and the EU have done to take on some of the burdens of climate change. Europe's actions are briefly assessed from practical and normative perspectives. Europe is doing more than any other part of the world to address climate change and to share the burdens associated with it. Nevertheless, Europe is not doing as much to address this problem as it can and should do. Both practical and normative imperatives demand more urgent action by Europe to implement climate equity. (shrink)
Abstract: William James argued that we ordinarily think of the objects that we can observe—things that belong to 'the world of sense'—as having an unquestioned reality. However, young children also assert the existence of entities that they cannot ordinarily observe. For example, they assert the existence of germs and souls. The belief in the existence of such unobservable entities is likely to be based on children's broader trust in other people's testimony about objects and situations that they cannot directly observe (...) for themselves. (shrink)
What is the nature of children's trust in testimony? Is it based primarily on evidential correlations between statements and facts, as stated by Hume, or does it derive from an interest in the trustworthiness of particular speakers? In this essay, we explore these questions in an effort to understand the developmental course and cognitive bases of children's extensive reliance on testimony. Recent work shows that, from an early age, children monitor the reliability of particular informants, differentiate between those who make (...) true and false claims and keep that differential accuracy in mind when evaluating new information from these people. We argue that this selective trust is likely to involve the mentalistic appraisal of speakers rather than surface generalizations of their behavior. Finally, we review the significance of children's deference to adult authority on issues of naming and categorization. In addition to challenging a purely inductive account of trust, these and other findings reflect a potentially rich set of tools brought by children to the task of learning from people's testimony. (shrink)
Bering's argument that human beings are endowed with a cognitive system dedicated to forming illusory representations of psychological immortality relies on the claim that children's beliefs in the afterlife are not the result of religious teaching. We suggest four reasons why this claim is unsatisfactory.
Psychologists have emphasized children's acquisition of information through firsthand observation. However, many beliefs are acquired from others' testimony. In two experiments, most 4yearolds displayed sceptical trust in testimony. Having heard informants' accurate or inaccurate testimony, they anticipated that informants would continue to display such differential accuracy and they trusted the hitherto reliable informant. Yet they ignored the testimony of the reliable informant if it conflicted with what they themselves had seen. By contrast, threeyearolds were less selective in trusting a reliable (...) informant. Thus, young children check testimony against their own experience and increasingly recognise that some informants are more trustworthy than others. (shrink)
Pollution and overuse of resources in China have profound implications for the Chinese people and the world. Globalisation may be partly to blame for this situation, but it is hardly the only explanation. China has been overusing its resources for centuries. Traditional values appear to offer environmentally benign guidance for China's economic development, but they are largely impotent in the face of now-pervasive values manifested in Western-style consumption. Government policies go some way toward addressing this problem, but what may be (...) required is a new set of values that brings self-interest and environmental protection into common cause. (shrink)
Studies of reasoning have often invoked a distinction between a natural or ordinary consideration of the premises, in which they are interpreted, and even distorted, in the light of empirical knowledge, and an analytic or logical consideration of the premises, in which they are analysed in a literal fashion for their logical implications. Two or three years of schooling have been seen as critical for the spontaneous use of analytic reasoning. In two experiments, however, 4-year-olds who were given brief instructions (...) that prompted use of an analytic approach continued to adopt this approach one week later. Thus, when given syllogistic problems in which the major premise was incongruent with their empirical knowledge (e.g. "All snow is black"), instructed children reasoned more accurately from that premise both immediately and a week later as compared to children given only a basic introduction. A third experiment showed that instructions also improved 4-year-olds' performance on hard-to-imagine, abstract material (e.g."All mib is white"). Similarities between the effects of brief instruction and of schooling are discussed. (shrink)
Byrne & Russon suggest that the production of action by primates is hierarchically organised. We assess the evidence for hierarchical structure in the comprehension of action by primates. Focusing on work with human children we evaluate several possible indices of program-level comprehension.
Effective efforts to protect the global environment will require the willing cooperation of the world's poor. Persuading them to join international environmental agreements and to choose environmentally sustainable development requires substantial concessions from the affluent industrialized countries, including additional financial assistance and technology transfers. The affluent countries ought to provide such assistance to the world's poor for ethical reasons. Doing so would promote transnational distributive justice, which is defined here as a fair and equitable distribution among countries of benefits, burdens, (...) and decision-making authority, in this case associated with transnational environmental relations. Conceptions of distributive justice examined include utilitarianism, human rights, causality/responsibility, impartiality, and principles derived from Kantian and Rawlsian ethics. (shrink)