I critically examine the semantic view of theories to reveal the following results. First, models in science are not the same as models in mathematics, as holders of the semantic view claim. Second, when several examples of the semantic approach are examined in detail no common thread is found between them, except their close attention to the details of model building in each particular science. These results lead me to propose a deflationary semantic view, which is simply that model construction (...) is an important component of theorizing in science. This deflationary view is consistent with a naturalized approach to the philosophy of science. (shrink)
Arguing About Human Nature covers recent debates--arising from biology, philosophy, psychology, and physical anthropology--that together systematically examine what it means to be human. Thirty-five essays--several of them appearing here for the first time in print--were carefully selected to offer competing perspectives on 12 different topics related to human nature. The context and main threads of the debates are highlighted and explained by the editors in a short, clear introduction to each of the 12 topics. Authors include Louise Anthony, Patrick Bateson, (...) David Buller, John Dupre, Paul Griffiths, Sally Haslanger, Richard Lewontin, Ron Mallon, and E.O. Wilson. Contributors Rachel Cooper, Nancy Holmstrom, Kim Sterelny, and Elizabeth Cashdan provide brand new chapters in these debates. Suggested Reading lists offer curious readers new resources for exploring these debates further. A rguing About Human Nature is the first volume of its kind, designed to introduce to an interdisciplinary student audience some of the most important arguments on the subject generated by scientific research and philosophical reflection. (shrink)
This contribution provides an assessment of the epistemological role of scientific models. The prevalent view that all scientific models are representations of the world is rejected. This view points to a unified way of resolving epistemic issues for scientific models. The emerging consensus in philosophy of science that models have many different epistemic roles in science is presented and defended.
Lucas Matthews and I substantially revised my SEP entry on Heritability. This version includes discussion of the missing heritability problem and other issues that arise from the use of Genome Wide Association Studies by Behavioral Geneticists.
In this paper I briefly introduce work on ancient-DNA and give some examples of the impact this work has had on responses to questions in archaeology. Next, I spell out David Reich’s reasons for his optimism about the contribution aDNA research makes to archaeology. I then use Robert Chapman and Alison Wylie’s framework to offer an alternative to Reich’s view of relations between aDNA research and archaeology. Finally, I develop Steven Mithen’s point about the different questions archaeologists and geneticists ask, (...) arguing that different disciplinary perspectives color researchers’ perceptions of “the most important questions” or the “central topics” in a field. I conclude that evidence from aDNA research cannot solve archaeological disputes without closer, mutually respectful collaboration between aDNA researchers and archaeologists. Ancient DNA data, like radiocarbon data, is not a silver bullet for problems in archaeology. (shrink)
I argue that Evolutionary Psychologists’ notion of adaptationism is closest to what Peter Godfrey-Smith (2001) calls explanatory adaptationism and as a result, is not a good organizing principle for research in the biology of human behavior. I also argue that adopting an alternate notion of adaptationism presents much more explanatory resources to the biology of human behavior. I proceed by introducing Evolutionary Psychology and giving some examples of alternative approaches to the biological explanation of human behavior. Next I characterize adaptation (...) and explain the range of biological phenomena that can count as adaptations. I go onto introduce the range of adaptationist views that have been distinguished by philosophers of biology and lay out explanatory adaptationism in detail. (shrink)
Several prominent philosophers of science, most notably Ron Giere, propose that scientific theories are collections of models and that models represent the objects of scientific study. Some, including Giere, argue that models represent in the same way that pictures represent. Aestheticians have brought the picturing relation under intense scrutiny and presented important arguments against the tenability of particular accounts of picturing. Many of these arguments from aesthetics can be used against accounts of representation in philosophy of science. I rely on (...) Dominic Lopes' recent summary of arguments against various views of picturing and reformulate some of them to fit the philosophy of science context. My specific targets here are Giere and Steven French. I go on to argue that assuming all scientific models and images represent in the same way is not the best guide to understanding scientific practice. (shrink)
Here I outline the argument in Kim Sterelny’s book The Evolved Apprentice. I present some worries for Sterelny from the perspective of modelers in behavioral ecology. I go on to discuss Sterelny’s approach to moral psychology and finally introduce some potential new applications for his evolved apprentice view.
I propose an approach to naturalized philosophy of science that takes the social nature of scientific practice seriously. I criticize several prominent naturalistic approaches for adopting "cognitive individualism", which limits the study of science to an examination of the internal psychological mechanisms of scientists. I argue that this limits the explanatory capacity of these approaches. I then propose a three-level model of the social nature of scientific practice, and use the model to defend the claim that scientific knowledge is socially (...) produced. (shrink)
In this paper I review some theoretical exchanges and empiricalresults from recent work on human behavior and cognition in thehope of indicating some productive avenues for critical engagement.I focus particular attention on methodological debates between Evolutionary Psychologists and behavioral ecologists. I argue for a broader and more encompassing approach to the evolutionarily based study of human behavior and cognition than either of these two rivals present.
I pose problems for the views that human nature should be the object of study in the social and behavioral sciences and that a concept of human nature is needed to guide research in these sciences. I proceed by outlining three research programs in the social sciences, each of which confronts aspects of human variation. Next, I present Elizabeth Cashdan and Grant Ramsey’s related characterizations of human nature. I go on to argue that the research methodologies they each draw on (...) are more productive resources for social scientists than their competing characterizations of human nature. (shrink)
This is an updated version of my Stanford Encyclopedia entry on Evolutionary Psychology. The 2018 version contains a new section on Human Nature as well as some new material on recent developments in Evolutionary Psychology.
There are a number of competing hypotheses about human evolution. For example, Homo habilis and Homo erectus could have existed together, or one could have evolved from the other, and paleontological evidence may allow us to decide between these two hypotheses (see, e.g., Spoor et al., 2007). For most who work on the biology of human behavior, there is no question that human behavior is in some large part a product of evolution. But, there are competing hypotheses in this area (...) as well. Some claim that human behavior is produced by a collection of psychological mechanisms, for the most part, and that these mechanisms are adaptations that arose in the Pleistocene Epoch (e.g., Tooby & Cosmides, 1992; Buss, 2007). The claim is important and testable (although, more difficult to test than the above mentioned hypotheses about origins); but importantly, it is only one among many hypotheses about the evolutionary origins of human behavior. While I think that there may be components of our behavior that are best explained by appealing to processes or mechanisms that arose in the Pleistocene, I think that human behavior is a result of evolutionary processes both much older and more recent than the Pleistocene. I also maintain that much of human behavior, and the mechanisms underlying it, could still be subject to evolutionary.. (shrink)
I introduce a range of examples of different causal hypotheses about human mate selection. The hypotheses I focus on come from evolutionary psychology, fluctuating asymmetry research and chemical signaling research. I argue that a major obstacle facing an integrated biology of human behavior is the lack of a causal framework that shows how multiple proximate causal mechanisms can act together to produce components of our behavior.
In this paper I assess Gopnik and Meltzoff's developmental psychology of science as a contribution to the understanding of scientific development. I focus on two specific aspects of Gopnik and Meltzoff's approach: the relation between their views and recapitulationist views of ontogeny and phylogeny in biology, and their overall conception of cognition as a set of veridical processes. First, I discuss several issues that arise from their appeal to evolutionary biology, focusing specifically on the role of distinctions between ontogeny and (...) phylogeny when appealing to biology for theoretical support. Second, I argue that to presuppose that cognition is veridical or "truth-tropic" can compromise attempts to understand scientific cognition both throughout history and in the present. Finally, I briefly sketch an evolutionary approach to understanding scientific development that contrasts with Gopnik and Meltzoff's. (shrink)
In this paper I examine various ways in whichphilosophers have made connections between truth andnatural selection. I introduce several versions ofthe view that mechanisms of true belief generationarise as a result of natural selection and argue thatthey fail to establish a connection between truth andnatural selection. I then turn to scientific truthsand argue that evolutionary accounts of the origin ofscientific truth generation mechanisms also fail. Iintroduce David Hull's selectionist model ofscientific development and argue that his account ofscientific success does not (...) rely on connecting truthand natural selection. I argue that Hull's model,which severs the connection between truth andselection, can account for some aspects of scientificchange, but it still leaves us plenty of questionsabout what aspects of our individual cognitive make-upcontribute to scientific change and how they do so. I introduce an evolutionary approach to scientificcognition that shows how some of these questions canbe answered without making an explanatory appeal toselection for true belief generating mechanisms. (shrink)
Alison Gopnik and Andrew Meltzoff have argued for a view they call the ‘theory theory’: theory change in science and children are similar. While their version of the theory theory has been criticized for depending on a number of disputed claims, we argue that there is a fundamental problem which is much more basic: the theory theory is multiply ambiguous. We show that it might be claiming that a similarity holds between theory change in children and (i) individual scientists, (ii) (...) a rational reconstruction of a Superscientist, or (iii) the scientiﬁc community. We argue that (i) is false, (ii) is non-empirical (which is problematic since the theory theory is supposed to be a bold empirical hypothesis), and (iii) is either false or doesn’t make enough sense to have a truth-value. We conclude that the theory theory is an interesting failure. Its failure points the way to a full, empirical picture of scientiﬁc development, one that marries a concern with the social dynamics of science to a psychological theory of scientiﬁc cognition. (shrink)
I respond to Vladas Griskevicius and Douglas T. Kendrick (G&K) and Gad Saad's (S) defenses of the view that Consumer Studies would benefit from the appeal to evolution in all work aimed at understanding consumer behavior. I argue that G&K and S's reliance on one theoretical perspective, that of evolutionary psychology, limits their options. Further, I point out some specific problems with the theoretical perspective of evolutionary psychology. Finally, I introduce some alternative evolutionary approaches to studying human behavior that could (...) profitably be adopted in consumer research. -/- . (shrink)
In this article, the author focuses on Philip Kitcher's and Alvin Goldman's economic models of the social character of scientific knowledge production. After introducing some relevant methodological issues in the social sciences and characterizing Kitcher's and Goldman's models, the author goes on to show that special problems arise directly from the concept of an agent invoked in the models. The author argues that the two distinct concepts of agents, borrowed from economics and cognitive psychology, are inconsistent. Finally, the author discusses (...) some of the normative implications that arise from adopting economic concepts of agents in the study of science. (shrink)
In this paper I examine Paul Thagard's computational approach to studying science, which is a contribution to the cognitive science of science. I present several criticisms of Thagard's approach and use them to motivate some suggestions for alternative approaches in cognitive science of science. I first argue that Thagard does not clearly establish the units of analysis of his study. Second, I argue that Thagard mistakenly applies the same model to both individual and group decision making. Finally, I argue that (...) in attempting to account for psychological and social processes as well as providing a philosophical model of successful reasoning Thagard attempts to explain too much with one model, thus straining the plausibility of his model. (shrink)
The papers in this volume present varying approaches to human aggression, each from an evolutionary perspective. The evolutionary studies of aggression collected here all pursue aspects of patterns of response to environmental circumstances and consider explicitly how those circumstances shape the costs and benefits of behaving aggressively. All the authors understand various aspects of aggression as evolved adaptations but none believe that this implies we are doomed to continued violence, but rather that variation in aggression has evolutionary roots. These papers (...) reveal several similarities between human and nonhuman aggression, including our response to physical strength as an indicator of fighting ability, testosterone response to competition, a sensitivity to paternity, and baseline features of intergroup aggression in foragers and chimps. There is also one paper tackling the phylogeny of these traits. The many differences between human and nonhuman aggression are also pursued here. Topics here include the impact of modern weapons and extremes of wealth and power on both the costs and benefits of fighting, and the scale to which coercion can promote aggression that acts against a fighter’s own interests. Also the implications of large-scale human sociality are discussed. (shrink)
Debates about human nature inform every philosophical tradition from their inception (see Stevenson 2000 for many examples). Evolutionarily based criticisms of human nature are of much more recent origin. Ironically, most evolutionarily based criticisms of human nature are directed at work whose avowed goal is to biologicize human nature and even to place human nature within an evolutionary frame. Here I will focus on accounts of human nature that begin with and come after E.O. Wilson’s sociobiology. I will also focus (...) on criticisms of human nature that arose first as responses to sociobiology. There are some more recent approaches to human nature that have much in common with the sociobiological approach and I will show that critical arguments developed to target sociobiology have purchase on related recent approaches to human nature. In what follows I will briefly outline some well-known accounts of human nature. Next I will briefly outline some key evolutionarily based arguments against such accounts of human nature. I conclude by summarizing the evolutionary case against biological accounts of human nature and endorsing it. (shrink)
Biologists, climate scientists, and economists all rely on models to move their work forward. In this book, I explore the use of models in these and other fields to introduce readers to the various philosophical issues that arise in scientific modeling. I show that paying attention to models plays a crucial role in appraising scientific work. -/- After surveying a wide range of models from a number of different scientific disciplines, I demonstrate how focusing on models sheds light on many (...) perennial issues in philosophy of science and in philosophy in general. For example, reviewing the range of views on how models represent their targets introduces readers to the key issues in debates on representation, not only in science but in the arts as well. Also, standard epistemological questions are cast in new and interesting ways when we confront the question, "What makes for a good (or bad) model?". (shrink)