Are routine actions rational?

  In “Actions, Reasons, and Causes” (1963) Donald Davidson famously argued that actions are both ‘rationalized’ and caused by the agent’s reasons. Here is the tritest illustration of this “standard account” of actions: When Brett wants a beer and believes there is beer in the fridge, this gives him a reason to open the fridge and causes him to do so....

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It’s Color Game o’clock!

Most of us prefer to play live, with players who happen to be present on line at the same moment. But not every hour is a green-dots hour. What's a Color-Gamer to do?...

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Reasoning against Faith: When Clerics Intervene in Popular Religion

  In their recent book The Enigma of Reason (2017), Mercier and Sperber debunk the popular view of reason as a source of disinterested, accurate knowledge about the world. The function of reason, they argue, is polemical rather than hermeneutic, as we mostly produce reasons to justify our actions to others and to evaluate the arguments other people use to convince us. This provocative argument opens up interesting avenues for further ethnographic investigations that would flesh out how argumentative reasoning functions across different cultural and socio-historical settings. As an anthropologist of religion, I find the question of how reasoning interacts with belief in the religious context particularly intriguing. ...

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How Color Game pseudonyms work

The posts on this blog explore the digital life of the Color Game, a gaming app launched by our lab. Our goal: inventing a universal language without words, and recording its birth in data. To find out more, visit colorgame.net. Several players told us they were puzzled at the way the Color Game names them — or their friends. They should be! The naming scheme that we set up for the game is quite intricate. It helps us to make the game as anonymous as possible. Here's how it works....

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Post-doc in Cultural Evolution, Text Mining and Social Cognition in Paris

one-year post-doctoral position in Cultural Evolution and Social Cognition is currently open at the Département d’Etudes Cognitives (DEC) of the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. This project will be conducted under the supervision of Nicolas Baumard at the Institut Jean Nicod (IJN) and Julie Grèzes...

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Post-doctoral position in cultural/cognitive evolution

The Centre for Early Sapiens Behaviour (SapienCE) – a recently launched interdisciplinary Centre of Excellence at the University of Bergen (Norway) – invites applications from candidates with a background in a cognitive or cultural science for a position as postdoctoral research fellow in cultural and/or cognitive evolution....

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Beheadings as honest communication devices

People kill others in different ways, but executions are special in that the killer can choose the method. Practices officially used today are hanging, shooting or stoning, lethal injection, electrocution, gas inhalation, and decapitation. The last method is currently confined to Saudi Arabia, but has a bloody and prestigious history. Many cultures and societies have used it across time, with different social interpretations. In Japan, the honorary suicide was followed by beheading by an assistant, but mere beheading carried shame. Before 1789, only French nobles could be beheaded, and the revolution democratised and extended the practice by guillotining. Today, terrorists use it to great shock value. But what explains the historical popularity of beheading?...

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How the best color-gamers got there

The posts on this blog explore the digital life of the Color Game, a gaming app launched by our lab. Its goal: inventing a universal language without words, and recording its birth in data. To find out more, visit colorgame.net. The Color Game's players have been getting better at playing the game. How did they do it? Practice seems an obvious answer. But what kind of practice?...

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Can we (please) have science without the scientific journals?

We had science before the journals. We can have science after their demise.

Science could be organized as efficiently as restaurants.

When enterprising individuals plan to open a restaurant, do they submit their food to a Culinary Editor who sends it for peer-review by gustatory experts, before customers are allowed to enter the place and try the food?

No, restaurateurs just rent premises, recruit staff, open doors, serve the meals they want at the price they choose, and hope for the best.

Then the review process starts. A whole army of self-appointed reviewers make it their job to describe and evaluate what is on offer. They include specialized magazines, special sections of newspapers or websites. More importantly, a vast number of unsolicited, unpaid Internet reviewers create what an establishment needs – a reputation....

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How the Color Game’s players mastered the game

The posts on this blog explore the digital life of the Color Game, a gaming app launched by our lab. Our goal: documenting the evolution of a new language without words, and recording its birth in data. To find out more, visit colorgame.net. ...

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“All options remain open” – or why would one signal a lack of commitment?

Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump seem now set to meet, as planned, on the 12th of June on the island of Singapore. Many of us have watched with bewilderment the verbal jousting that has been taking place between the two figures ahead of this crucial summit. Each political leader, as well as surrounding Korean and American protagonists, provided their due share of grand statements and dramatic turnarounds. ...

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Are human toddlers unable to understand the aspectuality of a puppet’s belief that the bunny is not a carrot?

In an earlier post, I spelled out what philosophers and psychologists of mindreading call “the aspectuality of belief.” To understand the aspectuality of belief is to understand that a person can believe that Cicero was bald without believing that Tully was, if she does not know that Tully was Cicero — in spite of the fact that the state of affairs of Cicero’s being bald is no other than the state of affairs of Tully’s being bald. ...

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