ONLINE LECTURE Judith Burkart: “The Cooperative Breeding Model of Human Evolution. Insights From Marmoset Monkeys”

October 6 2021, 15:30 – 17:00 (CET)

To understand the primate origins of the human mind, it is worthwhile to focus not only on great apes, but also on the callitrichid monkeys. Like humans, but unlike great apes, callitrichids are cooperative breeders: group members other than the mother cooperate in raising offspring, including proactively offering food. According to the cooperative breeding model, this reproductive system played an important role during human evolution, explaining many of our life-history traits and our demographic success. Here, we focus on the psychological dimension of the cooperative breeding model, and present comparative data that show that across primates, prosociality and social tolerance are associated with cooperative breeding, and can have downstream consequences of increased performance in socio-cognitive contexts and vocal communication. Next, we turn to the perspective of immatures – what are the implications of growing up as a cooperative breeder? Since helpers are not always readily available, and mothers typically already busy with the next offspring, immatures have to work hard to engage them.  Callitrichid immatures use babbling-like behavior to do so; it not only speeds up vocal development, but adults are more likely to approach and interact with babbling immatures. When during evolutionary time, human immatures where first exposed to the challenges of growing up as a cooperative breeder, they already had inherited from their great-ape like ancestors rather strong socio-cognitive skills that they could now use to master these novel challenges. The explicit focus on immatures may thus well explain why many socio-cognitive skills emerge so early during human development.

Judith Burkart is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Zürich. She studies cognitive and psychological consequences of cooperative breeding, primate cognitive evolution, evolution of prosociality, and the cooperative breeding hypothesis. You can find a list of her publications on these topics here.

To register for the Online lecture send an e-mail to

Talk at DGPHIL’s Graduate Conference

Basil will give a talk at the DGPHIL’s graduate conference on the 10th of September 2021, at 14:45 – 15:15. The title of the talk is: “What or whom do we depend on when we acquire cumulative cultural knowledge? Expanding the notion of epistemic dependence.” You can find the abstract below. For more infos, check out the DGPHIL-Website or get in touch:

Abstract: The main aim of this talk is to argue that we need to broaden our notion of epistemic dependence if we’d like to capture how we humans attain arguably our most important epistemic achievement – cumulative cultural knowledge (CCK). Roughly put, CCK is knowledge that is socially learned and the product of several rounds of intergenerational refinement. To be more precise, I argue that we need to broaden our understanding of the relata of the epistemic dependence relation – whom and/or what we depend on.

Present-day social epistemology takes testimonial exchanges to be the most important instances of epistemic dependence. Though I agree that these are of considerable importance, I will show that in attaining CCK we depend on much more than others testimony. I argue that in acquiring CCK, we depend on (at least) three factors that haven’t received sufficient attention in the existing literature: What I call i) non-deliberately informational practices, ii) demographic and structural properties of social groups and iii) a social group’s (selection) history.

Workshop Online Radicalization

Ideology Formation and Online Radicalization

Time: Jun 4, 2021 02:15 PM Zurich

Zoom Meeting


02:15 – 02:30 Welcome and Introduction: Round of introductions

02:30 – 02:50   Aleksandra Urmann (University of Bern): The Largest  Digital Migration

02:50 – 03:10 Jeremy Blackburn (Bingham University): A Primer on Fringe Online Communities

20 min break

03:30 – 03:50 Manoel Ribeiro (EPFL): Auditing Radicalization Pathways on YouTube

03:50 – 04:10 Rebekka Hufendiek (University of Bern): Revival of the Undead: Reactionary Ideology Online

04:10 – 04:30 Elisabeth Hell (Violence Prevention Network, Berlin): What is Deradicalization and How Could it Happen Online?

20 min break

04:50 – 05:10 Andrei Chitu: (Streetwork Online, Berlin): Prevention Through Engagement in Online Communities

05:10 – 05:30 Becca Lewis (Stanford University): TBA

  20 min break
5:50 – 06:30 Roundtable

ONLINE LECTURE Cecilia Heyes: “Cultural Evolutionary Psychology”

May 12 2021, 15:30 – 17:00

ABSTRACT: Cultural evolutionary psychology seeks to explain the origins and effectiveness of distinctively human cognitive mechanisms by combining the resources of cognitive science and evolutionary theory. In contrast with classical evolutionary psychology, it suggests that these mechanisms have been shaped primarily by culture; by Darwinian selection operating on socially rather than genetically inherited variants. In other words, cultural evolutionary psychology casts distinctively human psychological mechanisms as ‘cognitive gadgets’ rather than ‘cognitive instincts’, but it is not a blank slate theory. During human evolution, often via Baldwinisation, genetic selection has tuned motivational, attentional, and learning processes that we share with other animals to make our developing minds more malleable by information from other agents. Using morality, imitation and metacognition as examples, I will sample the evidence from developmental psychology, comparative psychology and cognitive neuroscience that supports cultural evolutionary psychology and discuss the opportunities and challenges it presents for those who want to understand not only how our minds work, but why they work that way.

Cecilia Heyes is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Oxford and a Senior Research Fellow in Theoretical Life Sciences at All Souls College. She studies the evolution of the human mind and is the author of Cognitive Gadgets. The Cultural Evolution of Thinking.

Rebekka Hufendiek’s interview with Simone Miller „Aufstand der Alphamänner“

Legt die Natur unsere Geschlechterrollen fest? Publizisten polemisieren in den USA und Deutschland mit kruden Thesen gegen ein liberales Menschenbild. Das sei fachlich haltlos und politisch gefährlich, warnt die Philosophin Rebekka Hufendiek.

Podcast and Article in German: Rebekka Hufendiek im Gespräch mit Simone Miller.

Ivan Gonzalez-Cabrera (Bern) “Folk Moral Realism, Cooperation, and The Human Adaptive Landscape.” Institute Colloquium, December 3 2020 at 6:15 pm – 8:15 pm

The role of evolutionary theorizing on the potential vindication or debunking of morality has been the focus of recent philosophical debate. In this paper, I argue that if recent evolutionary approaches to the vindication of morality are right, we should expect certain predictions about our metaethical intuitions to be the case. The proposed approach helps us to move forward the debate between vindicationist and debunking approaches to the evolution of morality by drawing the empirical consequences of such a view on folk metaethical cognition in particular and normative cognition in general.

Online event. Access can be requested from the administrations office until 4pm on the day before: