Discovery and confirmation in evolutionary psychology

In Jesse J. Prinz (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Psychology. Oxford University Press (web)
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The defining insight of evolutionary psychology consists of bringing considerations drawn from evolutionary biology to bear on the study of human psychology. So characterized, evolutionary psychology encompasses a large range of views about the nature and evolution of human psychology as well as diverging opinions about the proper method for studying them.1 In this article, I propose to clarify and evaluate various aspects of evolutionary psychologists’ methodology, with a special focus on their heuristics of discovery—i.e., their methods for developing plausible hypotheses—and their strategies of confirmation—i.e., their methods for providing empirical support for these hypotheses.2 I will also evaluate several well-known objections raised against evolutionary psychology. Note that because views about psychology and evolution differ among evolutionary psychologists, I do not pretend to cover every method used in evolutionary psychology.3



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Edouard Machery
University of Pittsburgh

Citations of this work

An Evidence-Based Study of the Evolutionary Behavioral Sciences.Edouard Machery & Kara Cohen - 2012 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 63 (1):177-226.
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Nativism and the Evolutionary Debunking of Morality.Brendan Cline - 2015 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 6 (2):231-253.
How (not) to bring psychology and biology together.Mark Fedyk - 2015 - Philosophical Studies 172 (4):949-967.

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