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Nathan Cofnas
Oxford University
  1. Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy.Nathan Cofnas - 2018 - Human Nature 29 (2):134-156.
    MacDonald argues that a suite of genetic and cultural adaptations among Jews constitutes a “group evolutionary strategy.” Their supposed genetic adaptations include, most notably, high intelligence, conscientiousness, and ethnocentrism. According to this thesis, several major intellectual and political movements, such as Boasian anthropology, Freudian psychoanalysis, and multiculturalism, were consciously or unconsciously designed by Jews to promote collectivism and group continuity among themselves in Israel and the diaspora and undermine the cohesion of gentile populations, thus increasing the competitive advantage of Jews (...)
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  2. Coercive Paternalism and the Intelligence Continuum.Nathan Cofnas - forthcoming - Behavioural Public Policy:1-20.
    Thaler and Sunstein advocate 'libertarian paternalism'. A libertarian paternalist changes the conditions under which people act so that their cognitive biases lead them to choose what is best for themselves. Although libertarian paternalism manipulates people, Thaler and Sunstein say that it respects their autonomy by preserving the possibility of choice. Conly argues that libertarian paternalism does not go far enough, since there is no compelling reason why we should allow people the opportunity to choose to bring disaster upon themselves if (...)
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  3. Science is Not Always “Self-Correcting” : Fact–Value Conflation and the Study of Intelligence.Nathan Cofnas - 2016 - Foundations of Science 21 (3):477-492.
    Some prominent scientists and philosophers have stated openly that moral and political considerations should influence whether we accept or promulgate scientific theories. This widespread view has significantly influenced the development, and public perception, of intelligence research. Theories related to group differences in intelligence are often rejected a priori on explicitly moral grounds. Thus the idea, frequently expressed by commentators on science, that science is “self-correcting”—that hypotheses are simply abandoned when they are undermined by empirical evidence—may not be correct in all (...)
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    Is Vegetarianism Healthy for Children?Nathan Cofnas - forthcoming - Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition.
    According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ influential position statement on vegetarianism, meat and seafood can be replaced with milk, soy/legumes, and eggs without any negative effects in children. The United States Department of Agriculture endorses a similar view. The present paper argues that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ignores or gives short shrift to direct and indirect evidence that vegetarianism may be associated with serious risks for brain and body development in fetuses and children. Regular supplementation with (...)
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    Innateness as Genetic Adaptation: Lorenz Redivivus (and Revised).Nathan Cofnas - 2017 - Biology and Philosophy 32 (4):559-580.
    In 1965, Konrad Lorenz grounded the innate–acquired distinction in what he believed were the only two possible sources of information that can underlie adaptedness: phylogenetic and individual experience. Phylogenetic experience accumulates in the genome by the process of natural selection. Individual experience is acquired ontogenetically through interacting with the environment during the organism’s lifetime. According to Lorenz, the adaptive information underlying innate traits is stored in the genome. Lorenz erred in arguing that genetic adaptation is the only means of accumulating (...)
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    Religious Authority and the Transmission of Abstract God Concepts.Nathan Cofnas - 2018 - Philosophical Psychology 31 (4):609-628.
    According to the Standard Model account of religion, religious concepts tend to conform to “minimally counterintuitive” schemas. Laypeople may, to varying degrees, verbally endorse the abstract doctrines taught by professional theologians. But, outside the Sunday school exam room, the implicit representations that tend to guide people’s everyday thinking, feeling, and behavior are about minimally counterintuitive entities. According to the Standard Model, these implicit representations are the essential thing to be explained by the cognitive science of religion. It is argued here (...)
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    A Teleofunctional Account of Evolutionary Mismatch.Nathan Cofnas - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (4):507-525.
    When the environment in which an organism lives deviates in some essential way from that to which it is adapted, this is described as “evolutionary mismatch,” or “evolutionary novelty.” The notion of mismatch plays an important role, explicitly or implicitly, in evolution-informed cognitive psychology, clinical psychology, and medicine. The evolutionary novelty of our contemporary environment is thought to have significant implications for our health and well-being. However, scientists have generally been working without a clear definition of mismatch. This paper defines (...)
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