Decades of research conducted in Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, & Democratic (WEIRD) societies have led many scholars to conclude that the use of mental states in moral judgment is a human cognitive universal, perhaps an adaptive strategy for selecting optimal social partners from a large pool of candidates. However, recent work from a more diverse array of societies suggests there may be important variation in how much people rely on mental states, with people in some societies judging accidental harms just (...) as harshly as intentional ones. To explain this variation, we develop and test a novel cultural evolutionary theory proposing that the intensity of kin-based institutions will favor less attention to mental states when judging moral violations. First, to better illuminate the historical distribution of the use of intentions in moral judgment, we code and analyze anthropological observations from the Human Area Relations Files. This analysis shows that notions of strict liability—wherein the role for mental states is reduced—were common across diverse societies around the globe. Then, by expanding an existing vignette-based experimental dataset containing observations from 321 people in a diverse sample of 10 societies, we show that the intensity of a society's kin-based institutions can explain a substantial portion of the population-level variation in people's reliance on intentions in three different kinds of moral judgments. Together, these lines of evidence suggest that people's use of mental states has coevolved culturally to fit their local kin-based institutions. We suggest that although reliance on mental states has likely been a feature of moral judgment in human communities over historical and evolutionary time, the relational fluidity and weak kin ties of today's WEIRD societies position these populations' psychology at the extreme end of the global and historical spectrum. (shrink)
After introducing the new field of cultural evolution, we review a growing body of empirical evidence suggesting that culture shapes what people attend to, perceive and remember as well as how they think, feel and reason. Focusing on perception, spatial navigation, mentalizing, thinking styles, reasoning (epistemic norms) and language, we discuss not only important variation in these domains, but emphasize that most researchers (including philosophers) and research participants are psychologically peculiar within a global and historical context. This rising tide of (...) evidence recommends caution in relying on one’s intuitions or even in generalizing from reliable psychological findings to the species, Homo sapiens. Our evolutionary approach suggests that humans have evolved a suite of reliably developing cognitive abilities that adapt our minds, information-processing abilities and emotions ontogenetically to the diverse culturally-constructed worlds we confront. (shrink)
The argument that cumulative technological culture originates in technical-reasoning skills is not the only alternative to social accounts; another possibility is that accumulation of both technical-reasoning skills and enhanced social skills stemmed from the onset of a more basic cognitive ability such as recursive representational redescription. The paper confuses individual learning of pre-existing information with creative generation of new information.
Written in the anthropological tradition of ethnography, this is a comprehensive account of the radical American musical called experimentalism that arose early in the century and peaked in the 1950s and 1960s.
BackgroundResponsive neurostimulation has been utilized as a treatment for intractable epilepsy. The RNS System delivers stimulation in response to detected abnormal activity, via leads covering the seizure foci, in response to detections of predefined epileptiform activity with the goal of decreasing seizure frequency and severity. While thalamic leads are often implanted in combination with cortical strip leads, implantation and stimulation with bilateral thalamic leads alone is less common, and the ability to detect electrographic seizures using RNS System thalamic leads is (...) uncertain.ObjectiveThe present study retrospectively evaluated fourteen patients with RNS System depth leads implanted in the thalamus, with or without concomitant implantation of cortical strip leads, to determine the ability to detect electrographic seizures in the thalamus. Detailed patient presentations and lead trajectories were reviewed alongside electroencephalographic analyses.ResultsAnterior nucleus thalamic leads, whether bilateral or unilateral and combined with a cortical strip lead, successfully detected and terminated epileptiform activity, as demonstrated by Cases 2 and 3. Similarly, bilateral centromedian thalamic leads or a combination of one centromedian thalamic alongside a cortical strip lead also demonstrated the ability to detect electrographic seizures as seen in Cases 6 and 9. Bilateral pulvinar leads likewise produced reliable seizure detection in Patient 14. Detections of electrographic seizures in thalamic nuclei did not appear to be affected by whether the patient was pediatric or adult at the time of RNS System implantation. Sole thalamic leads paralleled the combination of thalamic and cortical strip leads in terms of preventing the propagation of electrographic seizures.ConclusionThalamic nuclei present a promising target for detection and stimulation via the RNS System for seizures with multifocal or generalized onsets. These areas provide a modifiable, reversible therapeutic option for patients who are not candidates for surgical resection or ablation. (shrink)
Max Picard (1888-1965) was a Swiss-German writer, who converted to Catholicism from Judaism. A doctor and psychologist, Picard worked in Berlin but retired in the 1920s to Switzerland. He is often regarded as a "wisdom thinker," and his rich and penetrating writings continue to speak to us in the twenty-first century. The Flight from God is an incisive, profound description of many of the problems facing modern culture, and its analysis resonates with us more today than when first published in (...) 1934. Picard illustrates that modern culture is essentially in Flight, and so the individual is under pressure to make a choice; in earlier generations only an individual could be in flight because the culture itself was not in flight but in Faith. The flight does not require courage or guilt; yet it is to be found in, and is often destructive of, many facets of life including human relationships, art, economics, science, entertainment, even religion. Because of this it leaves many in anguish, from which we seek alternative avenues of structure and meaning. Yet, in every person there is a residue that will not yield itself to the flight, and this is bound up with love, which reminds us of God. Picard shows how God is always somehow present in the flight--just when we think we are arriving from the flight, we find that God is already there. Picard's identification and discussion of the roots of the distresses of modern culture, and its attempts to grapple with the spiritual dimension of human experience, along with tensions created by freedom and individuality, are clearly still of the greatest relevance for us today. (shrink)
Recent experimental philosophy arguments have raised trouble for philosophers' reliance on armchair intuitions. One popular line of response has been the expertise defense: philosophers are highly-trained experts, whereas the subjects in the experimental philosophy studies have generally been ordinary undergraduates, and so there's no reason to think philosophers will make the same mistakes. But this deploys a substantive empirical claim, that philosophers' training indeed inculcates sufficient protection from such mistakes. We canvass the psychological literature on expertise, which indicates that people (...) are not generally very good at reckoning who will develop expertise under what circumstances. We consider three promising hypotheses concerning what philosophical expertise might consist in: (i) better conceptual schemata; (ii) mastery of entrenched theories; and (iii) general practical know-how with the entertaining of hypotheticals. On inspection, none seem to provide us with good reason to endorse this key empirical premise of the expertise defense. (shrink)
One hypothesis concerning the human dorsal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) is that it functions, in part, to signal the occurrence of conflicts in information processing, thereby triggering compensatory adjustments in cognitive control. Since this idea was first proposed, a great deal of relevant empirical evidence has accrued. This evidence has largely corroborated the conflict-monitoring hypothesis, and some very recent work has provided striking new support for the theory. At the same time, other findings have posed specific challenges, especially concerning the (...) way the theory addresses the processing of errors. Recent research has also begun to shed light on the larger function of the ACC, suggesting some new possibilities concerning how conflict monitoring might fit into the cingulate's overall role in cognition and action. (shrink)
This paper highlights the complex and fractured nature of EU governance, before examining various ways of introducing more light into the various dark recesses of current governance structures. The debate on transparency at the EU level is viewed through the prism of deliberative democracy and enabling more effective citizen participation in the governing processes. This model of democracy considers political participation by citizens in a broad sense which is not limited to participation in strictly political institutions (voting). From this perspective (...) the ability of citizens to effectively participate in social dialogue, in the broad sense of the term, is a definite attribute of democracy. The ability to participate in social dialogue depends to a large extent on accessibility of information and accessibility of the dialogue itself. The role of advanced information technology is obvious. It not only facilitates access to relevant information crucial for will formation processes but also facilitates social dialogue among citizens. Some form of organized and networked ‘active’ citizenry is moreover required‐ aware, committed and potent. This paper will thus further argue that ‘civil society’ (defined as in any event embracing the not for profit, public interest sector) at the EU level has a special role to play in this regard and will explore in outline some possible means of institutionalising this role in the highly specific EU context. (shrink)