A Cultural Species and its Cognitive Phenotypes: Implications for Philosophy

Review of Philosophy and Psychology 14 (2):349-386 (2022)
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After introducing the new field of cultural evolution, we review a growing body of empirical evidence suggesting that culture shapes what people attend to, perceive and remember as well as how they think, feel and reason. Focusing on perception, spatial navigation, mentalizing, thinking styles, reasoning (epistemic norms) and language, we discuss not only important variation in these domains, but emphasize that most researchers (including philosophers) and research participants are psychologically peculiar within a global and historical context. This rising tide of evidence recommends caution in relying on one’s intuitions or even in generalizing from reliable psychological findings to the species, Homo sapiens. Our evolutionary approach suggests that humans have evolved a suite of reliably developing cognitive abilities that adapt our minds, information-processing abilities and emotions ontogenetically to the diverse culturally-constructed worlds we confront.

Author's Profile

Daniel Kelly
Purdue University


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