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Michael Vlerick
Tilburg University
  1.  9
    Better Than Our Nature.Michael Vlerick - 2017 - Cambridge University Press.
    The fact of evolution raises important questions for the position of moral realism, because the origin of our moral dispositions in a contingent evolutionary process is on the face of it incompatible with the view that our moral beliefs track independent moral truths. Moreover, this meta-ethical worry seems to undermine the normative justification of our moral norms and beliefs. If we don’t have any grounds to believe that the source of our moral beliefs has any ontological authority, how can our (...)
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  2.  44
    The Cultural Evolution of Institutional Religions.Michael Vlerick - forthcoming - Religion, Brain and Behavior.
    In recent work, Atran, Henrich, Norenzayan and colleagues developed an account of religion that reconciles insights from the ‘by-product’ accounts and the adaptive accounts. According to their synthesis, the process of cultural group selection driven by group competition has recruited our proclivity to adopt and spread religious beliefs and engage in religious practices to increase within group solidarity, harmony and cooperation. While their account has much merit, I believe it only tells us half the story of how institutional religions have (...)
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  3. Natural Selection Does Care About Truth.Maarten Boudry & Michael Vlerick - unknown
    True beliefs are better guides to the world than false ones. This is the commonsense assumption that undergirds theorizing in evolutionary epistemology. According to Alvin Plantinga, however, evolution by natural selection does not care about truth, it only cares about fitness. If our cognitive faculties are the products of blind evolution, we have no reason to trust them, anytime or anywhere. Evolutionary naturalism, consequently, is a self-defeating position. Following up on earlier objections, we uncover three additional flaws in Plantinga's latest (...)
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  4.  67
    Evolution and Epistemic Justification.Michael Vlerick & Alex Broadbent - 2015 - Dialectica 69 (2):185-203.
    According to the evolutionary sceptic, the fact that our cognitive faculties evolved radically undermines their reliability. A number of evolutionary epistemologists have sought to refute this kind of scepticism. This paper accepts the success of these attempts, yet argues that refuting the evolutionary sceptic is not enough to put any particular domain of beliefs – notably scientific beliefs, which include belief in Darwinian evolution – on a firm footing. The paper thus sets out to contribute to this positive justificatory project, (...)
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  5.  51
    Can Evolution Get Us Off the Hook? Evaluating the Ecological Defence of Human Rationality.Maarten Boudry, Michael Vlerick & Ryan McKay - 2015 - Consciousness and Cognition 33:524-535.
    This paper discusses the ecological case for epistemic innocence: does biased cognition have evolutionary benefits, and if so, does that exculpate human reasoners from irrationality? Proponents of ‘ecological rationality’ have challenged the bleak view of human reasoning emerging from research on biases and fallacies. If we approach the human mind as an adaptive toolbox, tailored to the structure of the environment, many alleged biases and fallacies turn out to be artefacts of narrow norms and artificial set-ups. However, we argue that (...)
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  6.  50
    Explaining Universal Social Institutions: A Game-Theoretic Approach.Michael Vlerick - 2016 - Topoi 35 (1):291-300.
    Universal social institutions, such as marriage, commons management and property, have emerged independently in radically different cultures. This requires explanation. As Boyer and Petersen point out ‘in a purely localist framework would have to constitute massively improbable coincidences’ . According to Boyer and Petersen, those institutions emerged naturally out of genetically wired behavioural dispositions, such as marriage out of mating strategies and borders out of territorial behaviour. While I agree with Boyer and Petersen that ‘unnatural’ institutions cannot thrive, this one-sided (...)
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  7.  29
    Biological Constraints Do Not Entail Cognitive Closure.Michael Vlerick - 2014 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48:21-27.
    From the premise that our biology imposes cognitive constraints on our epistemic activities, a series of prominent authors – most notably Fodor, Chomsky and McGinn – have argued that we are cognitively closed to certain aspects and properties of the world. Cognitive constraints, they argue, entail cognitive closure. I argue that this is not the case. More precisely, I detect two unwarranted conflations at the core of arguments deriving closure from constraints. The first is a conflation of what I will (...)
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  8.  28
    Psychological Closure Does Not Entail Cognitive Closure.Michael Vlerick & Maarten Boudry - 2017 - Dialectica 71 (1):101-115.
    According to some philosophers, we are “cognitively closed” to the answers to certain problems. McGinn has taken the next step and offered a list of examples: the mind/body problem, the problem of the self and the problem of free will. There are naturalistic, scientific answers to these problems, he argues, but we cannot reach them because of our cognitive limitations. In this paper, we take issue with McGinn's thesis as the most well-developed and systematic one among the so-called “new mysterians”. (...)
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  9.  22
    ‘Biologising’ Putnam: Saving the Realism in Internal Realism.Michael Vlerick - 2014 - South African Journal of Philosophy 33 (3):271-283.
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