Responding to recent concerns about the reliability of the published literature in psychology and other disciplines, we formed the X-Phi Replicability Project to estimate the reproducibility of experimental philosophy. Drawing on a representative sample of 40 x-phi studies published between 2003 and 2015, we enlisted 20 research teams across 8 countries to conduct a high-quality replication of each study in order to compare the results to the original published findings. We found that x-phi studies – as represented in our sample (...) – successfully replicated about 70% of the time. We discuss possible reasons for this relatively high replication rate in the field of experimental philosophy and offer suggestions for best research practices going forward. (shrink)
Bernard Williams proposed his relativism of distance based on the recognition “that others are at varying distances from us”. Recent work in moral psychology and experimental philosophy highlights the prevalence of folk relativism in relation to spatial and temporal distance. However, Williams’ relativism of distance as well as recent empirical findings which seem to support some of Williams’ main ideas on this issue have received scant attention. In this article, we would like to focus on the phenomenon of moral relativism (...) regarding spatiotemporal distance as an entry point to the nature of folk moral relativism and the methodology of meta-ethics. To do so, we first introduce Williams’ relativism of distance. Then we compare Williams’ approach on this matter to recent experimental approaches on folk relativism. On this score the main result is that Williams’ proposal is consistent with several well-established insights on the experimental study of folk relativism. Williams’ relativism of distance is not only empirically plausible, but it is also of relevance for shaping the methodology of an empirically informed meta-ethics. We close this paper by stressing this methodological contribution. (shrink)
Active cultural transmission of fitness-enhancing behavior can be seen as a costly strategy: one for which its evolutionary stability poses a Darwinian puzzle. In this article, we offer a biological market model of cultural transmission that substitutes or complements existing kin selection-based proposals for the evolution of cultural capacities. We demonstrate how a biological market can account for the evolution of teaching when individual learners are the exclusive focus of social learning. We also show how this biological market can affect (...) the dynamics of cumulative culture. The model works best when it is difficult to have access to the observation of the behavior without the help of the actor. However, in contrast to previous non-mathematical hypotheses for the evolution of teaching, we show how teaching evolves, even when innovations are insufficiently opaque and therefore vulnerable to acquisition by emulators via inadvertent transmission. Furthermore, teaching in a biological market is an important precondition for enhancing individual learning abilities. (shrink)
In this critical notice to Robert Wright’s The Evolution of God, we focus on the question of whether Wright’s God is one which can be said to be an adaptation in a well defined sense. Thus we evaluate the likelihood of different models of adaptive evolution of cultural ideas in their different levels of selection. Our result is an emphasis on the plurality of mechanisms that may lead to adaptation. By way of conclusion we assess epistemologically some of Wright’s more (...) controversial claims concerning the directionality of evolution and moral progress. (shrink)
Experimental research has studied the emergence of fairness criteria such as merit and equality at increasingly younger ages. How much does the recognition and practice of these principles depend on the influence of central aspects of Western educated and industrialized societies? In an attempt to answer these questions, this article provides evidence regarding the choices of children in the Kogi indigenous community of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a traditional society living in the mountains of Northern Colombia that practices (...) swidden agriculture, cattle-raising, and enjoys a special cultural status granted by the Colombian Constitution. Two groups of 6–7 and 10–11 year olds were tested on a modified dictator game and several scenarios from a resource distribution task including different fairness criteria. Our results point to the lack of focality of the idea of merit among Kogi children at these ages when deciding on third-party allocation tasks, even when the design prevented equal distribution. (shrink)
A theoretical divide exists on the study of the adapted psychological mechanisms underlying human culture. It has been said for instance that we evolved a brain for all seasons and that this is opposed to the framework of the modularity of mind. We approach the nature of these explanatory differences based on what we judge to be a misunderstanding with respect to the evolution of domain-specific modules. We underline the fact that the input-domain of a module and its ecological function (...) should not be conflated. We propose a more generous way of considering how evolutionary functions in mental architecture account for the possibility of general adaptations for cultural cognition. We show that modularity happens to be a good tool to research and decompose mechanisms with plastic functions such as in some forms of social learning. The idea of "modules for all seasons" is so vindicated. Existe una divisoria teórica en el estudio de los mecanismos psicológicos biológicamente adaptados que subyacen a la cultura humana. Se ha dicho, por un lado, que hemos evolucionado un cerebro para todas las estaciones, lo que se opone, por el otro, al marco de la modularidad de la mente. Consideramos la naturaleza de estas diferencias explicativas sobre la base de lo que nos parece un error de comprensión acerca de la evolución de módulos específicos de dominio. Subrayamos el hecho de que el dominio de entrada de un módulo y su función ecológica no deben ser confundidos. Proponemos una manera más generosa de considerar cómo las funciones evolutivas de la arquitectura mental pueden dar cuenta de la posibilidad de adaptaciones generales a la cognición cultural. Mostramos que la modularidad resulta ser un buen instrumento para investigar y descomponer mecanismos con funciones plásticas, como las que encontramos en algunas formas de aprendizaje social. De este modo, se defiende la idea de "módulos para todas las estaciones". (shrink)
We contend that Ramsey et al.'s definition of animal innovation sensu process may be partially misleading when investigating mechanisms underlying animal innovation. By excluding social learning from the of innovation, they may be reproducing a dichotomous schema that does not accurately correspond to our knowledge of the acquisition of novel behavioral variants. This gives us some reason to doubt the functional specification of the defined process of innovation.