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Many philosophers of science and methodologists have argued that the ability to repeat studies and obtain similar results is an essential component of science. A finding is elevated from single observation to scientific evidence when the procedures that were used to obtain it can be reproduced and the finding itself can be replicated. Recent replication attempts show that some high profile results---most notably in psychology, but in many other disciplines as well---cannot be replicated consistently. These replication attempts have generated a considerable amount of controversy and the issue of whether direct replications have value has, in particular, proven to be contentious. However, much of this discussion has occurred in published commentaries and social media outlets, resulting in a fragmented discourse. To address the need for an integrative summary, we review various types of replication studies and then discuss the most commonly voiced concerns about direct replication. We provide detailed responses to these concerns and consider different statistical ways to evaluate replications. We conclude there are no theoretical or statistical obstacles to making direct replication a routine aspect of psychological science.
The domain of “folk-economics” consists in explicit beliefs about the economy held by laypeople, untrained in economics, about such topics as e.g., the causes of the wealth of nations, the benefits or drawbacks of markets and international trade, the effects of regulation, the origins of inequality, the connection between work and wages, the economic consequences of immigration, or the possible causes of unemployment. These beliefs are crucial in forming people's political beliefs, and in shaping their reception of different policies. Yet, they often conflict with elementary principles of economic theory and are often described as the consequences of ignorance, irrationality or specific biases. As we will argue, these past perspectives fail to predict the particular contents of popular folk-economic beliefs and, as a result, there is no systematic study of the cognitive factors involved in their emergence and cultural success. Here we propose that the cultural success of particular beliefs about the economy is predictable if we consider the influence of specialized, largely automatic inference systems that evolved as adaptations to ancestral human small-scale sociality. These systems, for which there is independent evidence, include free-rider detection, fairness-based partner-choice, ownership intuitions, coalitional psychology, and more. Information about modern mass-market conditions activates these specific inference-systems, resulting in particular intuitions, e.g., that impersonal transactions are dangerous or that international trade is a zero-sum game. These intuitions in turn make specific policy proposals more likely than others to become intuitively compelling, and as a consequence exert a crucial influence on political choices.
Shamans, including medicine-men, mediums, and the prophets of religious movements, recur across human societies. Shamanism also existed among nearly all documented hunter-gatherers, likely characterized the religious lives of many ancestral humans, and is often proposed by anthropologists to be the “first profession”, representing the first institutionalized division of labor beyond age and sex. This paper proposes a cultural evolutionary theory to explain why shamanism consistently develops, and in particular, (1) why shamanic traditions exhibit recurrent features around the world, (2) why shamanism professionalizes early, often in the absence of other specialization, and (3) how shifting social conditions affect the form or existence of shamanism. According to this theory, shamanism is a set of traditions developed through cultural evolution that adapts to people's intuitions to convince observers that a practitioner can influence otherwise unpredictable, significant events. The shaman does this by ostensibly transforming during initiation and trance, violating folk-intuitions of humanness to assure group-members that he or she can interact with the invisible forces that control uncertain outcomes. Entry requirements for becoming a shaman persist because the practitioner's credibility depends on them “transforming”. This contrasts with dealing with problems that have identifiable solutions (like building a canoe), where credibility hinges on showing results and outsiders can invade the jurisdiction by producing the outcome. Shamanism is an ancient human institution that recurs because of the capacity of cultural evolution to produce practices adapted to innate psychological tendencies.
A range of empirical findings are first used to more precisely characterize our distinctive tendency to objectify or externalize moral demands, and it is then argued that this salient feature of our moral cognition represents a profound puzzle for evolutionary approaches to human moral psychology that existing proposals do not help to resolve. It is then proposed that such externalization facilitated a broader shift to a vastly more cooperative form of social life by establishing and maintaining a connection between the extent to which an agent is herself motivated by a given moral norm and the extent to which she uses conformity to that same norm as a criterion in evaluating candidate partners in social interaction generally. This connection ensures the correlated interaction necessary to protect those prepared to adopt increasingly cooperative, altruistic, and other prosocial norms of interaction from exploitation, especially as such norms were applied in novel ways and/or to novel circumstances and as the rapid establishment of new norms allowed us to reap still greater rewards from hypercooperation. A wide range of empirical findings are then used to support this hypothesis, showing why the status we ascribe to moral demands and considerations exhibits the otherwise puzzling combination of objective and subjective elements that it does as well as showing how the need to effectively advertise our externalization of particular moral commitments generates features of our social interaction so familiar that they rarely strike us as standing in need of any explanation in the first place.
Episodic memory has been analyzed in a number of different ways in both philosophy and psychology, and most controversy has centered on its self-referential, ‘autonoetic’ character. Here, we offer a comprehensive characterization of episodic memory in representational terms, and propose a novel functional account on this basis. We argue that episodic memory should be understood as a distinctive epistemic attitude taken towards an event simulation. On this view, episodic memory has a metarepresentational format and should not be equated with beliefs about the past. Instead, empirical findings suggest that the contents of human episodic memory are often constructed in the service of the explicit justification of such beliefs. Existing accounts of episodic memory function that have focused on explaining its constructive character through its role in ‘future-oriented mental time travel’ neither do justice to its capacity to ground veridical beliefs about the past nor to its representational format. We provide an account of the metarepresentational structure of episodic memory in terms of its role in communicative interaction. The generative nature of recollection allows us to represent and communicate the reasons for why we hold certain beliefs about the past. In this process, autonoesis corresponds to the capacity to determine when and how to assert epistemic authority in making claims about the past. A domain where such claims are indispensable are human social engagements. Such engagements commonly require the justification of entitlements and obligations, which is often possible only by explicit reference to specific past events.
Does it make sense for people to hold one another responsible for what they do, as happens in countless social interactions every day? One of the most unsettling lessons from recent psychological research is that people are routinely mistaken about the origins of their behavior. Yet philosophical orthodoxy holds that the exercise of morally responsible agency typically requires accurate self-awareness. If the orthodoxy is right, and the psychology is to be believed, people characteristically fail to meet the standards of morally responsible agency, and we are faced with the possibility of skepticism about agency. Unlike many philosophers, I accept the unsettling lesson from psychology. I insist, however, that we are not driven to skepticism. Instead, we should reject the requirement of accurate self-awareness for morally responsible agency. In Talking to Our Selves I develop a dialogic theory, where the exercise of morally responsible agency emerges through a collaborative conversational process by which human beings, although afflicted with a remarkable degree of self-ignorance, are able to realize their values in their lives.