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Action, Identification and Experience
Author: Maik Niemeck
The book offers new answers to two central questions that have been heavily debated, especially in recent years, in the debate on so-called de se skepticism: Is there something special about first-person thinking? And how does it relate to other forms of self-consciousness? The answer to the first question is a resounding "yes." This assertion is justified by the double-reflexive structure, motivational force, and specific concern that first-personal thinking involves. Regarding the second question, the book concludes that there are non-linguistic forms of self-consciousness. However, these should not be understood as representational contents or non-relational properties, but as mental relations that, without themselves being represented, can contribute to the phenomenal character of conscious states. In this respect, the book also provides a justification for the rarely considered impure intentionalism.

Abstract

The counterfactual thinking cannot be only developed in early childhood, but it also could be a requirement for the causal reasoning. In this research a replica of German (1999) was made using counterfactual stories with Latin American kids between three and four years, demonstrating the possible main role counterfactual reasoning, by using computer animations. This was a different approach to the most recent made by Nyhout and Ganea (2020). Nonetheless, the participants of the study evidenced counterfactual reasoning to the relevant choice and the negative consequence conditions shown on the stories that represented the choices made by a starting role (McNemar, N = 40, k = 11.53, p = .001). Although some of the results were not totally conclusive under the analyzed conditions. Lastly, some possible not controlled effects are discussed from stories shown to the children, that could have motivated the counterfactual thinking.

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
Author: Marc Slors

Abstract

In most literature on human cultural evolution and the emergence of large-scale cooperation, the main function of cultural conventions is described as providing group-markers. This paper argues that cultural conventions serve another purpose as well that is at least as important. Large-scale cooperation is characterized by complex division of labour and by a diversity of social roles associated with cultural institutions. This requires ubiquitous ‘role-interaction coordination’ – as it will be labelled. It is argued that without cultural conventions this type of coordination would be cognitively intractable. Thus, apart from functioning as group markers, they are first and foremost important group-makers.

Open Access
In: Journal of Cognition and Culture

Abstract

There is considerable evidence that beliefs in supernatural punishment decrease self-interested behavior and increase cooperation amongst group members. To date, research has largely focused on beliefs concerning omniscient moralistic gods in large-scale societies. While there is an abundance of ethnographic accounts documenting fear of supernatural punishment, there is a dearth of systematic cross-cultural comparative quantitative evidence as to whether belief in supernatural agents with limited powers in small-scale societies also exert these effects. Here, we examine information extracted from the Human Relations Area Files on cultural discourse about the recently deceased, local ancestor spirits, and mortuary practices across 57 representative cultures. We find evidence that in traditional small-scale societies ancestor spirits are commonly believed to be capable of inflicting harm, with many attendant practices aimed at mitigating this danger. However, such beliefs do not appear to promote cooperation, as ancestor spirits seem to be concerned with interactions between themselves and the living, and to prioritize their own welfare. Many attendant practices are inconsistent even with bipartite cooperation with ancestors that could be viewed as a model for other relationships. The broader implications of this research for the cultural evolution of religion are discussed.

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture

Abstract

Moral dilemmas are a useful tool to investigate empirically, which parameters of a given situation modulate participants’ moral judgment, and in what way.

In an effort to provide moral judgment data from a non-WEIRD culture, we provide the translation and validation of 48 classical moral dilemmas in Persian language. The translated dilemma set was submitted to a validation experiment with N = 82 Iranian participants. The four-factor structure of this dilemma set was confirmed; including Personal Force (Personal, Impersonal), Benefit Recipient (Self, Other), Evitability (Avoidable, Inevitable), and Intentionality (Accidental, Instrumental). When comparing moral judgments of Iranian participants to those of Spanish and Italian participants’ from previous research with the same dilemma set, differences emerged. Iranian participants’ moral judgments were more deontological (i.e., they refrained from harm), than Spanish and Italian participants. Religiosity made participants’ moral judgments more deontological, and also dysphoric mood resulted in a more deontological response style.

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture

Abstract

The question of whether cultural transmission is faithful has attracted significant debate over the last 30 years. The degree of fidelity with which an object is transmitted depends on 1) the features chosen to be relevant, and 2) the quantity of details given about those features. Once these choices have been made, an object is described at a particular grain. In the absence of conventions between different researchers and across different fields about which grain to use, transmission fidelity cannot be evaluated because it is relative to the choice of grain. In biology, because a genotype-to-phenotype mapping exists and transmission occurs from genotype to genotype, a privileged grain of description exists that circumvents this ‘grain problem.’ In contrast, in cultural evolution, the genotype–phenotype distinction cannot be drawn, rendering claims about fidelity dependent upon researchers’ choices. Thus, due to a lack of unified conventions, claims about fidelity transmission are difficult to evaluate.

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture

Abstract

The attribution of mental states (MS) to other species typically follows a scala naturae pattern. However, “simple” mental states, including emotions, sensing, and feelings are attributed to a wider range of animals as compared to the so-called “higher” cognitive abilities. We propose that such attributions are based on the perceptual quality (i.e. imageability) of mental representations related to MS concepts. We hypothesized that the attribution of highly imaginable MS is more dependent on the familiarity of participants with animals when compared to the attribution of MS low in imageability. In addition, we also assessed how animal agreeableness, familiarity with animals, and the type of human-animal interaction related to the judged similarity of animals to humans. Sixty-one participants (19 females, 42 males) with a rural (n = 20) and urban (n = 41) background rated twenty-six wild and domestic animals for their perceived similarity with humans and ability to experience a set of MS: (1) Highly imageable MS: joy, anger, and fear, and (2) MS low in imageability: capacity to plan and deceive. Results show that more agreeable and familiar animals were considered more human-like. Primates, followed by carnivores, suines, ungulates, and rodents were rated more human-like than xenarthrans, birds, arthropods, and reptiles. Higher MS ratings were given to more similar animals and more so if the MS attributed were high in imageability. Familiarity with animals was only relevant for the attribution of the MS high in imageability.

Open Access
In: Journal of Cognition and Culture

Abstract

Experimental research has studied the emergence of fairness criteria such as merit and equality at increasingly younger ages. How much does the recognition and practice of these principles depend on the influence of central aspects of Western educated and industrialized societies? In an attempt to answer these questions, this article provides evidence regarding the choices of children in the Kogi indigenous community of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, a traditional society living in the mountains of Northern Colombia that practices swidden agriculture, cattle-raising, and enjoys a special cultural status granted by the Colombian Constitution. Two groups of 6–7 and 10–11 year olds (N = 104) were tested on a modified dictator game and several scenarios from a resource distribution task including different fairness criteria. Our results point to the lack of focality of the idea of merit among Kogi children at these ages when deciding on third-party allocation tasks, even when the design prevented equal distribution.

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
Author: Gabriel Andrade

Abstract

Trolley dilemmas have been tested cross-culturally, but only recently have researchers begun to assess the effect of responding to such dilemmas in a foreign language. Previous studies have found a Moral Foreign Language Effect (MFLE) in trolley dilemmas, whereby subjects who respond to these dilemmas in a foreign language, tend to offer more utilitarian responses. The present study seeks to test whether the MFLE holds amongst native speakers of Arabic. Additionally, the present study seeks to test whether the use of visual images has any effect on responses. For such purposes, four groups were compared: 1) participants responding to trolley dilemmas in English without visual images; 2) participants responding to trolley dilemmas in Arabic without visual images; 3) participants responding to trolley dilemmas in English with visual images; 4) participants responding to trolley dilemmas in Arabic with visual images.

In: Journal of Cognition and Culture
The monograph offers an in-depth, source-oriented presentation and analysis of the complex discussions that took place between ca. 1230 and 1350 on the differentiation and expansion of the structural concept of scientific knowledge and certainty in lifeworld-contingent areas of investigation. It makes transparent a development in the course of which a graduated, multidimensional conception of knowledge and certainty emerges. In the process, the masters gain pioneering insights into the philosophy of science. Starting from the key data provided by Aristotle, the scholastic scholars' productive, far-reaching further thinking leads to a deeper understanding of the nature and reliability of scientifically acquired knowledge. These intellectual endeavours were significantly challenged by the increasing knowledge of the spectrum of the transmitted Aristotelian and Arabic sciences. They also received significant impulses from epistemological reflection in theology.