Should Bayes or Darwin Be Your Daddy?

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Abstract

Reviews the book, Biological and Cultural Bases of Human Inference, edited by Riccardo Viale, Daniel Andler, and Lawrence A. Hirschfeld (see record 2006-08553-000) as a collection of traditional “standard social science model” (SSSM) and newer evolutionary psychology (EP) perspectives on human inference errors. The SSSM dualistically views the mind as blank slate; biology only provides the mind's general learning and decision-making mechanisms, but culture supplies the content and reasoning heuristics filling it. The SSSM has been strongly challenged by the meta-theory of evolutionary psychology (EP). EP provides a less damning viewpoint on human cognitive fallibility and postulates that the hominid brain evolved to solve a variety of recurrent, universal fitness problems. The editors chose authors representative of EP- and SSSM-dominated outlooks, although these viewpoints receive the more polite labels of “universal-internalist” and “local-externalist” reasoning theories, respectively. Viewed as a rough continuum, the chapter authors range from the strong form of local reasoning (social constructivism), through hybrids (culture modifies innate cognitive primitives), to the strong form of evolved, universal cognitive architecture. Viale begins the book with a summary of the chapters but attempts little integration. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2007 APA, all rights reserved)

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