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  1. Water is and is not H 2 O.Kevin P. Tobia, George E. Newman & Joshua Knobe - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (2):183-208.
    The Twin Earth thought experiment invites us to consider a liquid that has all of the superficial properties associated with water (clear, potable, etc.) but has entirely different deeper causal properties (composed of “XYZ” rather than of H2O). Although this thought experiment was originally introduced to illuminate questions in the theory of reference, it has also played a crucial role in empirically informed debates within the philosophy of psychology about people’s ordinary natural kind concepts. Those debates have sought to accommodate (...)
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  • Water is and is not H 2 O.Kevin P. Tobia, George E. Newman & Joshua Knobe - 2020 - Mind and Language 35 (2):183-208.
    The Twin Earth thought experiment invites us to consider a liquid that has all of the superficial properties associated with water (clear, potable, etc.) but has entirely different deeper causal properties (composed of “XYZ” rather than of H2O). Debates about natural kind concepts have sought to accommodate an apparent fact about ordinary people's judgments: Intuitively, the Twin Earth liquid is not water. We present results showing that people do not have this intuition. Instead, people tend to judge that there is (...)
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  • Infants’ agent individuation: It’s what’s on the insides that counts.Hernando Taborda-Osorio & Erik W. Cheries - 2018 - Cognition 175 (C):11-19.
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  • Only causation matters: reply to Ahn et al.Michael Strevens - 2001 - Cognition 82 (1):71-76.
    This paper is a reply to a discussion of my paper The Essentialist Aspect of Naive Theories by Ahn, Kalish, Gelman, Medin, Luhmann, Atran, Coley and Shafto; both the discussion and my reply appeared in the November 2001 issue of Cognition.
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  • Essentialism and Folkbiology: Evidence from Brazil.Paulo Sousa, Scott Atran & Douglas Medin - 2002 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 2 (3):195-223.
    Experimental results in reference to Brazilian children and adults are presented in the context of current discussions about essentialism and folkbiology. Using an adoption paradigm, we replicate the basic findings of a previous article in this journal concerning the early emergence in children of a birth-parent bias. This cognitive bias supports the claim that causal essentialism cross-culturally constrains the reasoning about the origin, development and maintenance of the characteristics and identity of living kinds. We also report some intriguing differences with (...)
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  • What matters in scientific explanations: Effects of elaboration and content.Benjamin M. Rottman & Frank C. Keil - 2011 - Cognition 121 (3):324-337.
  • Ontology of Culture and the Study of Human Behavior.Ilkka Pyysiäinen - 2002 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 2 (3):167-182.
    It is here argued that 'culture' is a universal in the philosophical sense of the term: it expresses a general property. It is not a singular term naming an abstract entity, but rather a singular predicate the intension of which is 'cultureness.' Popper's view of the ontology of mathematics is used as an analogous example in the light of which the ontology of culture is analyzed. Cultures do not have an independent existence, they are not mere names, and neither do (...)
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  • Inference and coherence in causal-based artifact categorization.Guillermo Puebla & Sergio E. Chaigneau - 2014 - Cognition 130 (1):50-65.
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  • The essence of mentalistic agents.Shaun Nichols - 2017 - Synthese 194 (3):809-825.
    Over the last several decades, there has been a wealth of illuminating work on processes implicated in social cognition. Much less has been done in articulating how we learn the contours of particular concepts deployed in social cognition, like the concept MENTALISTIC AGENT. Recent developments in learning theory afford new tools for approaching these questions. In this article, I describe some rudimentary ways in which learning theoretic considerations can illuminate philosophically important aspects of the MENTALISTIC AGENT concept. I maintain that (...)
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  • Psychological Essentialism and the Structure of Concepts.Eleonore Neufeld - 2022 - Philosophy Compass 17 (5):e12823.
    Psychological essentialism is the hypothesis that humans represent some categories as having an underlying essence that unifies members of a category and is causally responsible for their typical attributes and behaviors. Throughout the past several decades, psychological essentialism has emerged as an extremely active area of research in cognitive science. More recently, it has also attracted attention from philosophers, who put the empirical results to use in many different philosophical areas, ranging from philosophy of mind and cognitive science to social (...)
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  • Artifact Categorization and the Modal Theory of Artifact Function.Bence Nanay - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (3):515-526.
    Philosophers and psychologists widely hold that artifact categories – just like biological categories – are individuated by their function. But recent empirical findings in psychology question this assumption. My proposal is to suggest a way of squaring these findings with the central role function should play in individuating artifact categories. But in order to do so, we need to give up on the standard account of artifact function, according to which function is fixed by design, and replace it with a (...)
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  • Different Selection Pressures Give Rise to Distinct Ethnic Phenomena.Cristina Moya & Robert Boyd - 2015 - Human Nature 26 (1):1-27.
  • My Heart Made Me Do It: Children's Essentialist Beliefs About Heart Transplants.Meredith Meyer, Susan A. Gelman, Steven O. Roberts & Sarah‐Jane Leslie - 2017 - Cognitive Science 41 (6):1694-1712.
    Psychological essentialism is a folk theory characterized by the belief that a causal internal essence or force gives rise to the common outward behaviors or attributes of a category's members. In two studies, we investigated whether 4- to 7-year-old children evidenced essentialist reasoning about heart transplants by asking them to predict whether trading hearts with an individual would cause them to take on the donor's attributes. Control conditions asked children to consider the effects of trading money with an individual. Results (...)
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  • Essentialist Beliefs About Bodily Transplants in the United States and India.Meredith Meyer, Sarah-Jane Leslie, Susan A. Gelman & Sarah M. Stilwell - 2013 - Cognitive Science 37 (1):668-710.
    Psychological essentialism is the belief that some internal, unseen essence or force determines the common outward appearances and behaviors of category members. We investigated whether reasoning about transplants of bodily elements showed evidence of essentialist thinking. Both Americans and Indians endorsed the possibility of transplants conferring donors' personality, behavior, and luck on recipients, consistent with essentialism. Respondents also endorsed essentialist effects even when denying that transplants would change a recipient's category membership (e.g., predicting that a recipient of a pig's heart (...)
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  • The Native Mind: Biological Categorization and Reasoning in Development and Across Cultures.Douglas L. Medin & Scott Atran - 2004 - Psychological Review 111 (4):960-983.
    . This paper describes a cross-cultural and developmental research project on naïve or folk biology, that is, the study of how people conceptualize nature. The combination of domain specificity and cross-cultural comparison brings a new perspective to theories of categorization and reasoning and undermines the tendency to focus on “standard populations.” From the standpoint of mainstream cognitive psychology, we find that results gathered from standard populations in industrialized societies often fail to generalize to humanity at large. For example, similarity-driven typicality (...)
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  • Was Race thinking invented in the modern West?Ron Mallon - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (1):77-88.
    The idea that genuinely racial thinking is a modern invention is widespread in the humanities and social sciences. However, it is not always clear exactly what the content of such a conceptual break is supposed to be. One suggestion is that with the scientific revolution emerged a conception of human groups that possessed essences that were thought to explain group-typical features of individuals as well the accumulated products of cultures or civilizations. However, recent work by cognitive and evolutionary psychologists suggests (...)
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  • Natural Kinds, Causal Profile and Multiple Constitution.Max Kistler - 2018 - Metaphysica 19 (1):113-135.
    The identity of a natural kind can be construed in terms of its causal profile. This conception is more appropriate to science than two alternatives. The identity of a natural kind is not determined by one causal role because one natural kind can have many causal roles and several functions and because some functions are shared by different kinds. Furthermore, the microstructuralist thesis is wrong: The identity of certain natural kinds is not determined by their microstructure. It is true that (...)
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  • Innate cognitive capacities.Muhammad ali KhAlidi - 2007 - Mind and Language 22 (1):92-115.
    This paper attempts to articulate a dispositional account of innateness that applies to cognitive capacities. After criticizing an alternative account of innateness proposed by Cowie (1999) and Samuels (2002), the dispositional account of innateness is explicated and defended against a number of objections. The dispositional account states that an innate cognitive capacity (output) is one that has a tendency to be triggered as a result of impoverished environmental conditions (input). Hence, the challenge is to demonstrate how the input can be (...)
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  • Folkscience: coarse interpretations of a complex reality.Frank C. Keil - 2003 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 7 (8):368-373.
    The rise of appeals to intuitive theories in many areas of cognitive science must cope with a powerful fact. People understand the workings of the world around them in far less detail than they think. This illusion of knowledge depth has been uncovered in a series of recent studies and is caused by several distinctive properties of explanatory understanding not found in other forms of knowledge. Other experimental work has shown that people do have skeletal frameworks of expectations that constrain (...)
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  • Essentialism and Folksociology: Ethnicity Again.Martin Kanovsky - 2007 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 7 (3-4):241-281.
    The aim of this article is to show that empirical evidence suggests that no particular causal process of essence acquisition is constitutive for essentialism in folksociology. Innate potential and biological inheritance, however powerful they may be for the human cognitive mind in the domain of folkbiology, are far from necessary in essentialist folksociological classifications. Essentialism in folksociology is not defined by any particular causal process of essence acquisition. Even when we are able to detect the innateness in a particular folksociology, (...)
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  • Pluralism on Artefact Categories: A Philosophical Defence.Wybo Houkes & Pieter E. Vermaas - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (3):543-557.
    In this paper we use our work in the philosophy of technology to formulate a pluralist view on artefact categories and categorisation principles, as studied in cognitive science. We argue, on the basis of classifications derived by philosophical reconstruction, that artefacts can be clustered in more than one way, and that each clustering may be taken as defining psychological artefact categories. We contrast this pluralism with essentialism and super-minimalism on artefact categories and we argue that pluralism is coherent with experimental (...)
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  • Category Transfer in Sequential Causal Learning: The Unbroken Mechanism Hypothesis.York Hagmayer, Björn Meder, Momme von Sydow & Michael R. Waldmann - 2011 - Cognitive Science 35 (5):842-873.
    The goal of the present set of studies is to explore the boundary conditions of category transfer in causal learning. Previous research has shown that people are capable of inducing categories based on causal learning input, and they often transfer these categories to new causal learning tasks. However, occasionally learners abandon the learned categories and induce new ones. Whereas previously it has been argued that transfer is only observed with essentialist categories in which the hidden properties are causally relevant for (...)
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  • The vernacular concept of innateness.Paul Griffiths, Edouard Machery & Stefan Linquist - 2009 - Mind and Language 24 (5):605-630.
    The proposal that the concept of innateness expresses a 'folk biological' theory of the 'inner natures' of organisms was tested by examining the response of biologically naive participants to a series of realistic scenarios concerning the development of birdsong. Our results explain the intuitive appeal of existing philosophical analyses of the innateness concept. They simultaneously explain why these analyses are subject to compelling counterexamples. We argue that this explanation undermines the appeal of these analyses, whether understood as analyses of the (...)
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  • The Ordinary Conception of Race in the United States and Its Relation to Racial Attitudes: A New Approach.Joshua Glasgow, Julie Shulman & Enrique Covarrubias - 2009 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 9 (1-2):15-38.
    Many hold that ordinary race-thinking in the USA is committed to the 'one-drop rule', that race is ordinarily represented in terms of essences, and that race is ordinarily represented as a biological (phenotype- and/or ancestry-based, non-social) kind. This study investigated the extent to which ordinary race-thinking subscribes to these commitments. It also investigated the relationship between different conceptions of race and racial attitudes. Participants included 449 USA adults who completed an Internet survey. Unlike previous research, conceptions of race were assessed (...)
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  • Artifacts and Essentialism.Susan A. Gelman - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (3):449-463.
    Psychological essentialism is an intuitive folk belief positing that certain categories have a non-obvious inner “essence” that gives rise to observable features. Although this belief most commonly characterizes natural kind categories, I argue that psychological essentialism can also be extended in important ways to artifact concepts. Specifically, concepts of individual artifacts include the non-obvious feature of object history, which is evident when making judgments regarding authenticity and ownership. Classic examples include famous works of art (e.g., the Mona Lisa is authentic (...)
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  • The essence of essentialism.George E. Newman & Joshua Knobe - 2019 - Mind and Language 34 (5):585-605.
    Over the past several decades, psychological essentialism has been an important topic of study, incorporating research from multiple areas of psychology, philosophy and linguistics. At its most basic level, essentialism is the tendency to represent certain concepts in terms of a deeper, unobservable property that is responsible for category membership. Originally, this concept was used to understand people’s reasoning about natural kind concepts, such as TIGER and WATER, but more recently, researchers have identified the emergence of essentialist-like intuitions in a (...)
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  • God’s categories: The effect of religiosity on children’s teleological and essentialist beliefs about categories.Gil Diesendruck & Lital Haber - 2009 - Cognition 110 (1):100-114.
  • Inherence is an aspect of psychological essentialism.Tara C. Dennehy - 2014 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (5):486-487.
    Inherence is not a distinct construct from psychological essentialism; it is one of several underlying beliefs. I propose that inherence is only one entry point to the perception of an essence and posit that context may influence which aspects of essentialist reasoning precede inferring an essence. I also discuss how psychological essentialism can uniquely account for violations of category-based expectancies.
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  • Normative Judgments and Individual Essence.Julian De Freitas, Kevin P. Tobia, George E. Newman & Joshua Knobe - 2017 - Cognitive Science 41 (S3).
    A growing body of research has examined how people judge the persistence of identity over time—that is, how they decide that a particular individual is the same entity from one time to the next. While a great deal of progress has been made in understanding the types of features that people typically consider when making such judgments, to date, existing work has not explored how these judgments may be shaped by normative considerations. The present studies demonstrate that normative beliefs do (...)
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  • Consistent Belief in a Good True Self in Misanthropes and Three Interdependent Cultures.Julian De Freitas, Hagop Sarkissian, George E. Newman, Igor Grossmann, Felipe De Brigard, Andres Luco & Joshua Knobe - 2018 - Cognitive Science 42 (S1):134-160.
    People sometimes explain behavior by appealing to an essentialist concept of the self, often referred to as the true self. Existing studies suggest that people tend to believe that the true self is morally virtuous; that is deep inside, every person is motivated to behave in morally good ways. Is this belief particular to individuals with optimistic beliefs or people from Western cultures, or does it reflect a widely held cognitive bias in how people understand the self? To address this (...)
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  • The role of intuitive ontologies in scientific understanding – the case of human evolution.Helen De Cruz & Johan De Smedt - 2007 - Biology and Philosophy 22 (3):351-368.
    Psychological evidence suggests that laypeople understand the world around them in terms of intuitive ontologies which describe broad categories of objects in the world, such as ‘person’, ‘artefact’ and ‘animal’. However, because intuitive ontologies are the result of natural selection, they only need to be adaptive; this does not guarantee that the knowledge they provide is a genuine reflection of causal mechanisms in the world. As a result, science has parted ways with intuitive ontologies. Nevertheless, since the brain is evolved (...)
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  • Knowledge, expectations, and inductive reasoning within conceptual hierarchies.John D. Coley, Brett Hayes, Christopher Lawson & Michelle Moloney - 2004 - Cognition 90 (3):217-253.
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  • The Inherence Heuristic: An Intuitive Means of Making Sense of the World, and a Potential Precursor to Psychological Essentialism.Andrei Cimpian & Erika Salomon - 2014 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 37 (5):461-480.
    We propose that human reasoning relies on an inherence heuristic, an implicit cognitive process that leads people to explain observed patterns (e.g., girls wear pink) in terms of the inherent features of their constituents (e.g., pink is an inherently feminine color). We then demonstrate how this proposed heuristic can provide a unified account for a broad set of findings spanning areas of research that might at first appear unrelated (e.g., system justification, nominal realism, is–ought errors in moral reasoning). By revealing (...)
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  • The Proper Function of Artifacts: Intentions, Conventions and Causal Inferences.Sergio E. Chaigneau & Guillermo Puebla - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (3):391-406.
    Designers’ intentions are important for determining an artifact’s proper function (i.e., its perceived real function). However, there are disagreements regarding why. In one view, people reason causally about artifacts’ functional outcomes, and designers’ intended functions become important to the extent that they allow inferring outcomes. In another view, people use knowledge of designers’ intentions to determine proper functions, but this is unrelated to causal reasoning, having perhaps to do with intentional or social forms of reasoning (e.g., authority). Regarding these latter (...)
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  • Creators’ intentions bias judgments of function independently from causal inferences.Sergio E. Chaigneau, Ramón D. Castillo & Luis Martínez - 2008 - Cognition 109 (1):123-132.
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  • Artifact Categorization. Trends and Problems.Massimiliano Carrara & Daria Mingardo - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (3):351-373.
    The general question (G) How do we categorize artifacts? can be subject to three different readings: an ontological, an epistemic and a semantic one. According to the ontological reading, asking (G) is equivalent to asking in virtue of what properties, if any, a certain artifact is an instance of some artifact kind: (O) What is it for an artifact a to belong to kind K? According to the epistemic reading, when we ask (G) we are investigating what properties of the (...)
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  • Development of Conceptual Flexibility in Intuitive Biology: Effects of Environment and Experience.Nicole Betz & John D. Coley - 2020 - Frontiers in Psychology 11.
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  • On the matter of essence.Iris Berent - 2021 - Cognition 213 (C):104701.
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  • Adaptationism for human cognition: Strong, spurious, or weak?Scott Atran - 2005 - 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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  • The Oxford Handbook of Causal Reasoning.Michael Waldmann (ed.) - 2017 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
    Causal reasoning is one of our most central cognitive competencies, enabling us to adapt to our world. Causal knowledge allows us to predict future events, or diagnose the causes of observed facts. We plan actions and solve problems using knowledge about cause-effect relations. Without our ability to discover and empirically test causal theories, we would not have made progress in various empirical sciences. In the past decades, the important role of causal knowledge has been discovered in many areas of cognitive (...)
  • Learning science through inquiry in kindergarten.Ala Samarapungavan, Panayota Mantzicopoulos & Helen Patrick - 2008 - Science Education 92 (5):868-908.
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  • A Theory of Conceptual Advance: Explaining Conceptual Change in Evolutionary, Molecular, and Evolutionary Developmental Biology.Ingo Brigandt - 2006 - Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh
    The theory of concepts advanced in the dissertation aims at accounting for a) how a concept makes successful practice possible, and b) how a scientific concept can be subject to rational change in the course of history. Traditional accounts in the philosophy of science have usually studied concepts in terms only of their reference; their concern is to establish a stability of reference in order to address the incommensurability problem. My discussion, in contrast, suggests that each scientific concept consists of (...)
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  • Evolution and Devolution of Knowledge: A Tale of Two Biologies.Scott Atran, Douglas Medin & Norbert Ross - unknown
    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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