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.

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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: