Dr. Ivan Gonzalez-Cabrera

Postal Address:

University of Bern
Institute of Philosophy
Länggassstrasse 49
3012 Bern

Office Unitobler, D222

E-Mail: ivan.gonzalezcabrera@philo.unibe.ch

I’m a philosophically-oriented cognitive anthropologist interested in questions concerning human social behavior, cooperation, morality, and culture. I am currently a Postdoc at Rebekka Hufendiek’s SNF project Explaining Human Nature: Empirical and Ideological Dimensions. My primary focus within this project lies on investigating the ideological assumptions of evolutionary explanations of morality and how to test them. Before joining the SNF project…I was a Postdoc at the KLI, I completed my Ph.D. at the Australian National University (ANU), under Kim Sterelny’s supervision. I have been a Research Student at Yoshiyuki Hirono’s lab (University of Tokyo), where I worked on biological models of cooperation in both ultrasocial insects and sizable human groups, as well as Ph.D. Research Fellow in the Department of Comparative and Developmental Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA), under the supervision of Michael Tomasello.

My Ph.D. thesis develops a framework to understand the motivational and cognitive underpinnings of human moral psychology as well as their emergence in evolution and development. My dissertation was nominated by the College of Arts & Social Sciences for the 2018 J. G. Crawford Prize for the best graduate dissertation at ANU. The first stages of this evolutionary narrative are systematically discussed in a paper published in the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. In a paper co-authored with Prof. Michael Tomasello, and published in the journal Human Nature, I further developed the ontogenetic account put forward in my dissertation by examining the role of development in the evolution of human social cognition and cooperation. This article was awarded by the Editors-in-Chief among all the Springer and Nature journals with the Springer-Nature’s Change the World, One Article at a Time Award in the Life Sciences and Biomedicine, as one of the scientific findings published in 2017 with the greatest potential to have an impact on society’s most pressing problems.


Papers and Book Chapters

  • (2020) Diego D. Herrera and Diego L. Gonzalez: Generalized Model For Scores in Volleyball Games, Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports. doi:10.1515/jqas-2019-0060. Available online here.
  • (2019): On social tolerance and the evolution of human normative guidance. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70(2): 523-549. doi:10.1093/bjps/axx017. Available online here.
  • (2018): Peer competition and cooperation. In Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science. Springer: New York, NY. doi:10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_154-1. Available online here.
  • (2018) with Eric Schwitzgebel, Linus T.-L. Huang, and Andrew Higgins: The Insularity of Anglophone Philosophy: Quantitative Analyses. Philosophical Papers 47(1): 21-48. doi:10.1080/05568641.2018.1429741. Available online here.
  • (2017): Moving beyond dichotomies. Biology & Philosophy. doi:10.1007/s10539-017-9590-2. Available online here.
  • (2017) with Michael Tomasello: The role of ontogeny in the evolution of human cooperation. Human Nature 28(3): 274-288. doi:10.1007/s12110-017-9291-1. Available online here.
  • (2017) with Marco F. H. Schmidt and Michael Tomasello: Children’s developing metaethical judgments. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology 164: 163-177. doi: 10.1016/j.jecp.2017.07.008. Available online here.
  • (2008). The problem of the evolution of biological altruism [El problema de la evolución del altruismo biológico]. Proceedings of the 2nd Colombian Congress of Philosophy. Cartagena: Colombian Society of Philosophy & University of Cartagena, 1203-1215. Available online here.
  • (2005). The logic of natural selection and the discussion about the scientific status of adaptationism [La lógica de la selección natural y la discusión sobre el estatuto científico del adaptacionismo]. Saga 11: 83-102. Available online here.


  • (2020): Michael Tomasello, Becoming human: a theory of ontogeny, Cambridge, MA: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2019, xi + 379 pp, $35.00/£28.95/€31.50. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42(4): 48 doi:10.1007/s40656-020-00335-w. Available online here.
  • (2020): Cecilia Heyes, Cognitive Gadgets: The Cultural Evolution of Thinking, Cambridge, Massachusetts: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2018, ix + 292 pp., $31.50/£25.95/€28.50. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 42(2): 13. doi:10.1007/s40656-020-00306-1. Available online here.
  • (2020). The Ape That Understood the Universe: How the Mind and Culture Evolve. By Steve Stewart-Williams. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. $27.95. xii + 368 p.; ill.; index. ISBN: 978-1-108-42504-9. 2018. The Quarterly Review of Biology 95(2): 150. doi:10.1086/709061. Available online here.


  • Spring semester 2021, University of Bern, Seminar: Philosophical Topics on Cultural Evolution. Available syllabus here.


uni bern | ORCID ID | philpeople | researchgate | website