85 found
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  1.  23
    Scott Atran (2005). In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion. OUP Usa.
    This ambitious, interdisciplinary book seeks to explain the origins of religion using our knowledge of the evolution of cognition. A cognitive anthropologist and psychologist, Scott Atran argues that religion is a by-product of human evolution just as the cognitive intervention, cultural selection, and historical survival of religion is an accommodation of certain existential and moral elements that have evolved in the human condition.
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  2.  64
    Scott Atran & Ara Norenzayan (2004). Religion's Evolutionary Landscape: Counterintuition, Commitment, Compassion, Communion. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 27 (6):713-730.
    Religion is not an evolutionary adaptation per se, but a recurring cultural by-product of the complex evolutionary landscape that sets cognitive, emotional, and material conditions for ordinary human interactions. Religion exploits only ordinary cognitive processes to passionately display costly devotion to counterintuitive worlds governed by supernatural agents. The conceptual foundations of religion are intuitively given by task-specific panhuman cognitive domains, including folkmechanics, folkbiology, and folkpsychology. Core religious beliefs minimally violate ordinary notions about how the world is, with all of its (...)
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  3. Scott Atran (1998). Folk Biology and the Anthropology of Science: Cognitive Universals and Cultural Particulars. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (4):547-569.
    This essay in the is about how cognition constrains culture in producing science. The example is folk biology, whose cultural recurrence issues from the very same domain-specific cognitive universals that provide the historical backbone of systematic biology. Humans everywhere think about plants and animals in highly structured ways. People have similar folk-biological taxonomies composed of essence-based, species-like groups and the ranking of species into lower- and higher-order groups. Such taxonomies are not as arbitrary in structure and content, nor as variable (...)
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  4. Scott Atran & Joseph Henrich (2010). The Evolution of Religion: How Cognitive By-Products, Adaptive Learning Heuristics, Ritual Displays, and Group Competition Generate Deep Commitments to Prosocial Religions. Biological Theory 5 (1):18-30.
    Understanding religion requires explaining why supernatural beliefs, devotions, and rituals are both universal and variable across cultures, and why religion is so often associated with both large-scale cooperation and enduring group conflict. Emerging lines of research suggest that these oppositions result from the convergence of three processes. First, the interaction of certain reliably developing cognitive processes, such as our ability to infer the presence of intentional agents, favors—as an evolutionary by-product—the spread of certain kinds of counterintuitive concepts. Second, participation in (...)
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  5.  21
    Woo-Kyoung Ahn, Charles Kalish, Susan A. Gelman, Douglas L. Medin, Christian Luhmann, Scott Atran, John D. Coley & Patrick Shafto (2001). Why Essences Are Essential in the Psychology of Concepts. Cognition 82 (1):59-69.
  6.  10
    Ara Norenzayan, Scott Atran, Jason Faulkner & Mark Schaller (2006). Memory and Mystery: The Cultural Selection of Minimally Counterintuitive Narratives. Cognitive Science 30 (3):531-553.
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  7.  11
    Scott Atran & Robert Axelrod, Reframing Sacred Values.
    Sacred values differ from material or instrumental values in that they incorporate moral beliefs that drive action in ways dissociated from prospects for success. Across the world, people believe that devotion to essential or core values – such as the welfare of their family and country, or their commitment to religion, honor, and justice – are, or ought to be, absolute and inviolable. Counterintuitively, understanding an opponent's sacred values, we believe, offers surprising opportunities for breakthroughs to peace. Because of the (...)
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  8.  11
    Jeremy Ginges, Scott Atran, Douglas Medin & Khalil Shikaki, Sacred Bounds on the Rational Resolution of Violent Political Conflict.
    We report a series of experiments carried out with Palestinian and Israeli participants showing that violent opposition to compromise over issues considered sacred is increased by offering material incentives to compromise but decreased when the adversary makes symbolic compromises over their own sacred values. These results demonstrate some of the unique properties of reasoning and decision-making over sacred values. We show that the use of material incentives to promote the peaceful resolution of political and cultural conflicts may backfire when adversaries (...)
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  9.  10
    Scott Atran, A Cheater-Detection Module? Dubious Interpretations of the Wason Selection Task and Logic.
    People usually fail the Wason selection task, choosing P and Q cases, when attempting to validate descriptive rules having the form “If P, then Q.” Yet they solve it, selecting P and not-Q cases, when validating deontic rules of the form “If P, then must Q.” The field of evolutionary psychology has overwhelmingly interpreted deontic versions of the selection task in terms of a naturally-selected, domain-specific social-contract or cheating algorithm. This work has done much to promote evolutionary psychology as an (...)
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  10.  11
    Jeremy N. Bailenson, Michael S. Shum, Scott Atran, Douglas L. Medin & John D. Coley (2002). A Bird's Eye View: Biological Categorization and Reasoning Within and Across Cultures. Cognition 84 (1):1-53.
    Many psychological studies of categorization and reasoning use undergraduates to make claims about human conceptualization. Generalizability of findings to other populations is often assumed but rarely tested. Even when comparative studies are conducted, it may be challenging to interpret differences. As a partial remedy, in the present studies we adopt a 'triangulation strategy' to evaluate the ways expertise and culturally different belief systems can lead to different ways of conceptualizing the biological world. We use three groups (US bird experts, US (...)
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  11.  9
    Jeremy Ginges & Scott Atran, Humiliation and the Inertia Effect: Implications for Understanding Violence and Compromise in Intractable Intergroup Conflicts.
    We investigated the influence of humiliation on inter-group conflict in three studies of Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. We demonstrate that experienced humiliation produces an inertia effect; a tendency towards inaction that suppresses rebellious or violent action but which paradoxically also suppresses support for acts of inter-group compromise. In Study 1, Palestinians who felt more humiliated by the Israeli occupation were less likely to support suicide attacks against Israelis. In Study 2, priming Palestinians with a humiliating experience (...)
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  12.  7
    Douglas L. Medin, Norbert O. Ross, Scott Atran, Douglas Cox, John Coley, Julia B. Proffitt & Sergey Blok (2006). Folkbiology of Freshwater Fish. Cognition 99 (3):237-273.
  13.  24
    Scott Atran (2001). The Trouble with Memes: Inference Versus Imitation in Cultural Creation. Human Nature 12 (4):351-381.
    Memes are hypothetical cultural units passed on by imitation; although nonbiological, they undergo Darwinian selection like genes. Cognitive study of multimodular human minds undermines memetics: unlike in genetic replication, high-fidelity transmission of cultural information is the exception, not the rule. Constant, rapid 'mutation' of information during communication generates endlessly varied creations that nevertheless adhere to modular input conditions. The sort of cultural information most susceptible to modular processing is that most readily acquired by children, most easily transmitted across individuals, most (...)
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  14.  8
    Morteza Dehghani, Rumen Iliev, Scott Atran, Jeremy Ginges & Douglas Medin, Emerging Sacred Values: The Iranian Nuclear Program.
    Sacred values are different from secular values in that they are often associated with violations of the cost-benefit logic of rational choice models. Previous work on sacred values has been largely limited to religious or territorial conflicts deeply embedded in historical contexts. In this work we find that the Iranian nuclear program, a relatively recent development, is treated as sacred by some Iranians, leading to a greater disapproval of deals which involve monetary incentives to end the program. Our results suggest (...)
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  15.  69
    Scott Atran (2006). The Scientific Landscape of Religion: Evolution, Culture, and Cognition. In Philip Clayton & Zachory Simpson (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science. Oxford University Press 407--429.
    Accession Number: ATLA0001712240; Hosting Book Page Citation: p 407-429.; Physical Description: graphs, tables ; Language(s): English; General Note: Bibliography: p 426-429.; Issued by ATLA: 20130825; Publication Type: Essay.
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  16.  19
    John D. Coley, Douglas L. Medin & Scott Atran (1997). Does Rank Have its Privilege? Inductive Inferences Within Folkbiological Taxonomies. Cognition 64 (1):73-112.
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  17.  7
    Scott Atran, Stones Against the Iron Fist, Terror Within the Nation: Alternating Structures of Violence and Cultural Identity in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
    The framework of the Israel-Palestinian Arab conflict has evolved over the last half century through an instrumentalization of violence by the parties concerned. Two alternating "structures of violence" have emerged to define this instrumentality: the one Israeli, the other Palestinian. I call these structures of violence "alternating" rather than merely "reciprocating" because the one not only feeds off the other and actually practices on the other that which is merely fancied and projected as the other's intention but also because they (...)
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  18.  7
    Scott Atran, Robert Axelrod, Richard Davis & Marc Sageman, Terror Networks and Sacred Values Synopsis of Report From Madrid – Morocco – Hamburg – Palestine – Israel – Syria Delivered to Nsc Staff, White House, Wednesday, March 28, 2007, 4 Pm by Scott Atran, Robert Axelrod and Richard Davis. [REVIEW]
    A Scientific Approach The facts detailed in this briefing are the results of scientific exploration of terror networks and sacred values and their association to political violence. The research is sponsored by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the National Science Foundation.
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  19.  6
    Scott Atran, Folkbiology.
    The entry provides a short history and description of the concepts "folkbiology" and "naive biology" as used in cognitive science and anthropology.
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  20.  6
    Scott Atran & Jeremy Ginges, How Words Could End a War.
    AS diplomats stitch together a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel, the most depressing feature of the conflict is the sense that future fighting is inevitable. Rational calculation suggests that neither side can win these wars. The thousands of lives and billions of dollars sacrificed in fighting demonstrate the advantages of peace and coexistence; yet still both sides opt to fight. This small territory is the world's great symbolic knot. “Palestine is the mother of all problems” is a common refrain among (...)
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  21.  6
    Scott Atran, Pathways to and From Violent Extremism: The Case for Science-Based Field Research Statement Before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats & Capabilities, March 10, 2010.
    We are fixated on technology and technological success, and we have no sustained or systematic approach to field-based social understanding of our adversaries' motivation, intent, will, and the dreams that drive their strategic vision, however strange those dreams and vision may seem to us.
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  22.  7
    Nicola Knight, Paulo Sousa, Justin L. Barrett & Scott Atran (2004). Children's Attributions of Beliefs to Humans and God: Cross‐Cultural Evidence. Cognitive Science 28 (1):117-126.
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  23. Scott Atran (2005). Adaptationism for Human Cognition: Strong, Spurious, or Weak? Mind and Language 20 (1):39-67.
    Strong adaptationists explore complex organic design as taskspecific adaptations to ancestral environments. This strategy seems best when there is evidence of homology. Weak adaptationists don't assume that complex organic (including cognitive and linguistic) functioning necessarily or primarily represents taskspecific adaptation. This approach to cognition resembles physicists' attempts to deductively explain the most facts with fewest hypotheses. For certain domainspecific competencies (folkbiology) strong adaptationism is useful but not necessary to research. With grouplevel belief systems (religion) strong adaptationism degenerates into spurious notions (...)
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  24. Scott Atran (1991). Cognitive Foundations of Natural History: Towards an Anthropology of Science. Journal of the History of Biology 24 (3):537-540.
     
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  25.  2
    John D. Coley, Douglas L. Medin, Julia Beth Proffitt, Elizabeth Lynch & Scott Atran (1999). Inductive Reasoning in Folkbiological Thought. In D. Medin & S. Atran (eds.), Folkbiology. MIT Press 211-12.
  26.  5
    Scott Atran, Robert Axelrod & Richard Davis, Sacred Barriers to Conflict Resolution.
    Resolution of quarrels arising from conflicting sacred values, as in the Middle East, may require concessions that acknowledge the opposition's core concerns.
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  27.  4
    Scott Atran & Ximena Lois, Anti-Anti-Cartesianism: Reply to Suart Shanker.
    There have been many criticisms of “nativism” in “Cartesian linguistics,” attacking positions that neither Chomsky nor any well-known generative grammarian has ever thought to defend. Shanker's polemic is no exception. It involves two spurious claims: Cartesian linguistics vitiates understanding language structure and use; nativism permits linguistic anthropology only to “validate” and “apply” generative principles. Briefly, Chomsky's outlines a language system, LS, of the human brain. LS reflexively discriminates and categorizes parts of the flux of human experience as “language,” and develops (...)
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  28.  4
    Scott Atran, The Surrogate Colonization of Palestine, 1917-1939.
    The "surrogate colonization" of Palestine had a foreign power giving to a nonnative group rights over land occupied by an indigenous people. It thus brought into play the complementary and conflicting agendas of three culturally distinguishable parties: British, Jews and Arabs. Each party had both "externalist" [those with no sustained practical experience of day to day life in Palestine] and "internalist" representatives. The surrogate idea was based on a "strategic consensus" involving each party's externalist camp: the British ruling elite, the (...)
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  29.  4
    Jeremy Ginges & Scott Atran, What Motivates Participation in Violent Political Action: Selective Incentives or Parochial Altruism?
    In standard models of decision making, participation in violent political action is understood as the product of instrumentally rational reasoning. According to this line of thinking, instrumentally rational individuals will participate in violent political action only if there are selective incentives that are limited to participants. We argue in favor of an alternate model of political violence where participants are motivated by moral commitments to collective sacred values. Correlative and experimental empirical evidence in the context of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict strongly (...)
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  30. Douglas L. Medin & Scott Atran (2004). The Native Mind: Biological Categorization and Reasoning in Development and Across Cultures. Psychological Review 111 (4):960-983.
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  31.  10
    Scott Atran (2002). Modular and Cultural Factors in Biological Understanding: An Experimental Approach to the Cognitive Basis of Science. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen P. Stich & Michael Siegal (eds.), The Cognitive Basis of Science. Cambridge University Press 41--72.
  32.  3
    Scott Atran, Devoted Actor Versus Rational Actor Models for Understanding World Conflict Presented to the National Security Council at the White House, September 14, 2006.
    Ever since the end of the Second World War, Rational Actor models have dominated strategic thinking at all levels of government policy and military planning. In the confrontation between states, and especially during the Cold War, these models were insightful and useful in anticipating a wide array of challenges and in stabilizing the world peace enough to prevent nuclear war. But now our society faces a whole new range of challenges from non-state actors who are committed to die in order (...)
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  33.  3
    Scott Atran, Understanding How the Privileged Become Violent Fanatics.
    The great British biologist J.B.S Haldane counted monotheism's creation of fanaticism as one of the most important inventions of the last 5,000 years. Call it love of God or love of group, it matters little in the end. Modern civilizations spin the potter's wheel of monotheism to manufacture the greatest cause of all, humanity. Before missionary monotheism, people did not consider that all others could be pigeonholed into one kind. The salvation of humanity is a cause as stimulating as it (...)
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  34.  28
    Scott Atran (1998). Taxonomic Ranks, Generic Species, and Core Memes. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (4):593-604.
    The target article contains a number of distinct but interrelated claims about the cognitive nature of folk biology based in part on cross-cultural work with urbanized Americans and forest-dwelling Maya Indians. Folk biology consists universally of a ranked taxonomy centered on essence-based generic species. This taxonomy is domain-specific, perhaps an innately determined evolutionary adaptation. Folk biology also plays a special role in cultural evolution in general, and in the development of Western biological science in particular. Even in our culture, however, (...)
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  35.  2
    Scott Atran, Combating Al Qaeda's Splinters: Mishandling Suicide Terrorism.
    The past three years saw more suicide attacks than the last quarter century. Most of these were religiously motivated. While most Westerners have imagined a tightly coordinated transnational terrorist organization headed by Al Qaeda, it seems more likely that nations under attack face a set of largely autonomous groups and cells pursuing their own regional aims. Repeated suicide actions show that massive counterforce alone does not diminish the frequency or intensity of suicide attack. Like pounding mercury with a hammer, this (...)
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  36.  2
    Scott Atran, Douglas Medin & Norbert Ross, Evolution and Devolution of Knowledge: A Tale of Two Biologies.
    Anthropological inquiry suggests that all societies classify animals and plants in similar ways. Paradoxically, in the same cultures that have seen large advances in biological science, citizenry's practical knowledge of nature has dramatically diminished. Here we describe historical, cross-cultural and developmental research on how people ordinarily conceptualize organic nature, concentrating on cognitive consequences associated with knowledge devolution. We show that results on psychological studies of categorization and reasoning from “standard populations” fail to generalize to humanity at large. Usual populations have (...)
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  37.  2
    Scott Atran, Facing Catastrophe - Risk and Response: The 9-11 and 11-M Commissions' Blind Sides.
    Paper originally prepared for the International Summit on "Deomcracy, Terrorism and Security," Madrid, 8-11 March 2005.
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  38.  2
    Scott Atran, Genesis of Suicide Terrorism.
    Contemporary suicide terrorists from the Middle East are publicly deemed crazed cowards bent on senseless destruction who thrive in poverty and ignorance. Recent research indicates they have no appreciable psychopathology and are as educated and economically well-off as surrounding populations. A first line of defense is to get the communities from which suicide attackers stem to stop the attacks by learning how to minimize the receptivity of mostly ordinary people to recruiting organizations.
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  39.  2
    Scott Atran, Religion in America: Why Many Democrats and Europeans DOn't Get It.
    If people vote rationally for their economic interests, one would expect Democrats to be perennial favorites among working poor and middle class, and especially so in this year of economic downturn. Why then does polling show the election a tossup? A culture's moral compass is not an innate or logical determination, but an underdetermined product of historical contingency and willful choice. Belief in moral "rightness" or "truth" is always a matter of faith rather than reason. Only some professional philosophers, jurists, (...)
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  40.  2
    Scott Atran, The Emir: An Interview with Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, Alleged Leader of the Southeast Asian Jemaah Islamiyah Organization.
    Press Release: Terrorism in Southeast Asia: An Interview with Abu Bakar Ba'asyir 10/03/2005 - In August, Dr. Scott Atran travelled to Southeast Asia and conducted extensive research on terrorist groups operating in the region. This interview with Abu Bakar Ba'asyir, alleged leader of the Jemaah Islamiyah organization, was conducted on August 13 and 15, 2005 from Cipinang Prison in Jakarta. Questions were formulated by Dr. Atran and posed for him in Behasa Indonesian by Taufiq Andrie. The interview took place in (...)
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  41.  2
    Scott Atran, To Jihad and Back.
    Interview with former Jemaah Islamiyah regional leader Nasir Abas and review of his book "Unveiling Jemaah Islamiyah".
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  42.  2
    Scott Atran, The Moral Measure of a Civilization is in its Treatment of Enemies.
    In the heat of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln made a speech in which he referred sympathetically to the Southern rebels. A member of the audience lambasted him for wanting to treat his enemies kindly when he ought to be thinking of destroying them. Lincoln's answer: "Why, madam, do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?" Harshness and cruelty were to be banished from the moral imagination of the nation he was trying to save. The late (...)
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  43.  2
    Scott Atran, The Making of a Terrorist: A Need for Understanding From the Field Testimony Before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security, Washington, DC, March 12, 2008.
    Soccer, paintball, camping, hiking, rafting, body building, martial arts training and other forms of physically stimulating and intimate group action create a bunch of buddies, which becomes a “band of brothers” in a simple heroic cause. It's usually enough that a few of these action buddies identify with a cause, and its heroic path to glory and esteem in the eyes of peers, for the rest to follow even unto death. Humans need to socially organize, to lead and be led; (...)
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  44.  2
    Scott Atran, The Nature of Belief.
    If religion is a special form of causal belief—immune to logic and evidence—about how things are in the world, then it is true that “science is basically in conflict with religion.” But if religion is primarily about what ought to be, including moral framing that convinces people to commit to others beyond the logic and evidence for advancing self-interest, then conflict is not inevitable. Understanding and manipulating causality, though key to science, is only one integral component of religion and other (...)
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  45.  2
    Scott Atran, The 'Virtual Hand' of Jihad.
    The presidential commission on WMDs and the 9/11 commission have condemned the status quo mentality of the intelligence community, which they see as being preoccupied with today's "current operations" and tactical requirements, and inattentive to tomorrow's far-ranging problems and strategic solutions. Both commissions call for steps to improve analysis and encourage diversity, including routine critiques of finished intelligence and alternative assessments by outside experts. But the overriding emphasis in both commissions' reports is on further vertically integrating intelligence collection, analysis, and (...)
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  46.  2
    Scott Atran, Unintelligent Design.
    Science, then, may never replace religion in the lives of most people and in any society that hopes to survive for very long. But neither can religion replace science if humankind hopes to unlock nature's material secrets. And parodies of science, like the so-called "theory" of intelligent design, only cripple science education.
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  47.  32
    Scott Atran (1989). Basic Conceptual Domains. Mind and Language 4 (1-2):7-16.
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  48.  16
    Scott Atran (1987). Ordinary Constraints on the Semantics of Living Kinds: A Commonsense Alternative to Recent Treatments of Natural-Object Terms. Mind and Language 2 (1):27-63.
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  49.  5
    Scott Atran (1987). Origin of the Species and Genus Concepts: An Anthropological Perspective. [REVIEW] Journal of the History of Biology 20 (2):195 - 279.
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  50.  17
    Scott Atran (2002). Modest Adaptationism: Muddling Through Cognition and Language. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 25 (4):504-506.
    Strong adaptationists would explain complex organic designs as specific adaptations to particular ancestral environments. Weak adaptationists don't assume that complex organic functioning represents evolutionary design in the sense of niche-specific adaptation. For some domain-specific competencies (folkbiology) strong adaptationism is useful, not necessary. With group-level belief systems (religion), strong adaptationism can become spurious pseudo-adaptationism. In other cases (language), weak adaptationism proves productive.
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