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Shaun Nichols
Cornell University
Shaun Nichols
University of Arizona
  1. Is Belief in Free Will a Cultural Universal?Hagop Sarkissian, Amita Chatterjee, Felipe de Brigard, Joshua Knobe, Shaun Nichols & Smita Sirker - 2010 - Mind and Language 25 (3):346-358.
    Recent experimental research has revealed surprising patterns in people's intuitions about free will and moral responsibility. One limitation of this research, however, is that it has been conducted exclusively on people from Western cultures. The present paper extends previous research by presenting a cross-cultural study examining intuitions about free will and moral responsibility in subjects from the United States, Hong Kong, India and Colombia. The results revealed a striking degree of cross-cultural convergence. In all four cultural groups, the majority of (...)
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    Teleological Essentialism: Generalized.David Rose & Shaun Nichols - forthcoming - Cognitive Science.
    Natural/social kind essentialism is the view that natural kind categories, both living and non-living natural kinds, as well as social kinds (e.g., race, gender), are essentialized. On this view, artifactual kinds are not essentialized. Our view—teleological essentialism—is that a broad range of categories are essentialized in terms of teleology, including artifacts. Utilizing the same kinds of experiments typically used to provide evidence of essentialist thinking—involving superficial change (study 1), transformation of insides (study 2) and inferences about offspring (study 3)—we find (...)
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  3. Memory and the Sense of Personal Identity.Stan Klein & Shaun Nichols - 2012 - Mind 121 (483):677-702.
    Memory of past episodes provides a sense of personal identity — the sense that I am the same person as someone in the past. We present a neurological case study of a patient who has accurate memories of scenes from his past, but for whom the memories lack the sense of mineness. On the basis of this case study, we propose that the sense of identity derives from two components, one delivering the content of the memory and the other generating (...)
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  4. Teleological Essentialism.David Rose & Shaun Nichols - 2019 - Cognitive Science 43 (4):e12725.
    Placeholder essentialism is the view that there is a causal essence that holds category members together, though we may not know what the essence is. Sometimes the placeholder can be filled in by scientific essences, such as when we acquire scientific knowledge that the atomic weight of gold is 79. We challenge the view that placeholders are elaborated by scientific essences. On our view, if placeholders are elaborated, they are elaborated Aristotelian essences, a telos. Utilizing the same kinds of experiments (...)
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  5. The Lesson of Bypassing.David Rose & Shaun Nichols - 2013 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 4 (4):599-619.
    The idea that incompatibilism is intuitive is one of the key motivators for incompatibilism. Not surprisingly, then philosophers who defend incompatibilism often claim that incompatibilism is the natural, commonsense view about free will and moral responsibility (e.g., Pereboom 2001, Kane Journal of Philosophy 96:217–240 1999, Strawson 1986). And a number of recent studies find that people give apparently incompatibilist responses in vignette studies. When participants are presented with a description of a causal deterministic universe, they tend to deny that people (...)
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  6. Phenomenal Abilities: Incompatibilism and the Experience of Agency.Oisín Deery, Matthew S. Bedke & Shaun Nichols - 2013 - In David Shoemaker (ed.), Oxford Studies in Agency and Responsibility. Oxford University Press. pp. 126–50.
    Incompatibilists often claim that we experience our agency as incompatible with determinism, while compatibilists challenge this claim. We report a series of experiments that focus on whether the experience of having an ability to do otherwise is taken to be at odds with determinism. We found that participants in our studies described their experience as incompatibilist whether the decision was (i) present-focused or retrospective, (ii) imagined or actual, (iii) morally salient or morally neutral. The only case in which participants did (...)
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  7. From Punishment to Universalism.David Rose & Shaun Nichols - 2019 - Mind and Language 34 (1):59-72.
    Many philosophers have claimed that the folk endorse moral universalism. Some have taken the folk view to support moral universalism; others have taken the folk view to reflect a deep confusion. And while some empirical evidence supports the claim that the folk endorse moral universalism, this work has uncovered intra-domain differences in folk judgments of moral universalism. In light of all this, our question is: why do the folk endorse moral universalism? Our hypothesis is that folk judgments of moral universalism (...)
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  8. You, Robot.Brian Fiala, Adam Arico & Shaun Nichols - 2014 - In Edouard Machery (ed.), Current Controversies in Experimental Philosophy. Routledge. pp. 31-47.
    How do people think about the mental states of robots? Experimental philosophers have developed various models aiming to specify the factors that drive people's attributions of mental states to robots. Here we report on a new experiment involving robots, the results of which tell against competing models. We advocate a view on which attributions of mental states to robots are driven by the same dual-process architecture that subserves attributions of mental states more generally. In support of this view, we leverage (...)
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  9. Free Will and the Bounds of the Self.Joshua Knobe & Shaun Nichols - 2011 - In Robert Kane (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Free Will. Oxford University Press.
    If you start taking courses in contemporary cognitive science, you will soon encounter a particular picture of the human mind. This picture says that the mind is a lot like a computer. Specifically, the mind is made up of certain states and certain processes. These states and processes interact, in accordance with certain general rules, to generate specific behaviors. If you want to know how those states and processes got there in the first place, the only answer is that they (...)
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