75 found
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  1.  57
    The Enigma of Reason.Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier (eds.) - 2017 - Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press.
    Reason, we are told, is what makes us human, the source of our knowledge and wisdom. If reason is so useful, why didn't it also evolve in other animals? If reason is that reliable, why do we produce so much thoroughly reasoned nonsense? In their groundbreaking account of the evolution and workings of reason, Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber set out to solve this double enigma. Reason, they argue with a compelling mix of real-life and experimental evidence, is not geared (...)
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  2. Epistemic Vigilance.Dan Sperber, Fabrice Clément, Christophe Heintz, Olivier Mascaro, Hugo Mercier, Gloria Origgi & Deirdre Wilson - 2010 - Mind and Language 25 (4):359-393.
    Humans massively depend on communication with others, but this leaves them open to the risk of being accidentally or intentionally misinformed. To ensure that, despite this risk, communication remains advantageous, humans have, we claim, a suite of cognitive mechanisms for epistemic vigilance. Here we outline this claim and consider some of the ways in which epistemic vigilance works in mental and social life by surveying issues, research and theories in different domains of philosophy, linguistics, cognitive psychology and the social sciences.
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  3.  21
    11. Why Is Reasoning Biased?Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier - 2017 - In Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier (eds.), The Enigma of Reason. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press. pp. 205-221.
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  4.  21
    Contents.Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier - 2017 - In Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier (eds.), The Enigma of Reason. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press.
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  5.  83
    Intuitive and reflective inferences.Hugo Mercier & Dan Sperber - 2009 - In Jonathan St B. T. Evans & Keith Frankish (eds.), In Two Minds: Dual Processes and Beyond. Oxford University Press. pp. 149--170.
    Much evidence has accumulated in favor of such a dual view of reasoning. There is however some vagueness in the way the two systems are characterized. Instead of a principled distinction, we are presented with a bundle of contrasting features - slow/fast, automatic/controlled, explicit/implicit, associationist/rule based, modular/central - that, depending on the specific dual process theory, are attributed more or less exclusively to one of the two systems. As Evans states in a recent review, “it would then be helpful to (...)
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  6.  70
    Reasoning Is for Arguing: Understanding the Successes and Failures of Deliberation.Hugo Mercier & Hélène Landemore - unknown
    Theoreticians of deliberative democracy have sometimes found it hard to relate to the seemingly contradictory experimental results produced by psychologists and political scientists. We suggest that this problem may be alleviated by inserting a layer of psychological theory between the empirical results and the normative political theory. In particular, we expose the argumentative theory of reasoning that makes the observed pattern of findings more coherent. According to this theory, individual reasoning mechanisms work best when used to produce and evaluate arguments (...)
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  7.  50
    On the Universality of Argumentative Reasoning.Hugo Mercier - 2011 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 11 (1-2):85-113.
    According to the argumentative theory of reasoning, humans have evolved reasoning abilities for argumentative purposes. This implies that some reasoning skills should be universals. Such a claim seems to be at odd with findings from cross-cultural research. First, a wealth of research, following the work of Luria, has shown apparent difficulties for illiterate populations to solve simple but abstract syllogisms. It can be shown, however, that once they are willing to accept the pragmatics of the task, these participants can perform (...)
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  8. What good is moral reasoning?Hugo Mercier - 2011 - Mind and Society 10 (2):131-148.
    The role of reasoning in our moral lives has been increasingly called into question by moral psychology. Not only are intuitions guiding many of our moral judgments and decisions, with reasoning only finding post-hoc rationalizations, but reasoning can sometimes play a negative role, by finding excuses for our moral violations. The observations fit well with the argumentative theory of reasoning (Mercier H, Sperber D, Behav Brain Sci, in press-b), which claims that reasoning evolved to find and evaluate arguments in dialogic (...)
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  9.  66
    Scientists' Argumentative Reasoning.Hugo Mercier & Christophe Heintz - 2014 - Topoi 33 (2):513-524.
    Reasoning, defined as the production and evaluation of reasons, is a central process in science. The dominant view of reasoning, both in the psychology of reasoning and in the psychology of science, is of a mechanism with an asocial function: bettering the beliefs of the lone reasoner. Many observations, however, are difficult to reconcile with this view of reasoning; in particular, reasoning systematically searches for reasons that support the reasoner’s initial beliefs, and it only evaluates these reasons cursorily. By contrast, (...)
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  10.  76
    The Selective Laziness of Reasoning.Emmanuel Trouche, Petter Johansson, Lars Hall & Hugo Mercier - 2015 - Cognitive Science 40 (8):2122-2136.
    Reasoning research suggests that people use more stringent criteria when they evaluate others' arguments than when they produce arguments themselves. To demonstrate this “selective laziness,” we used a choice blindness manipulation. In two experiments, participants had to produce a series of arguments in response to reasoning problems, and they were then asked to evaluate other people's arguments about the same problems. Unknown to the participants, in one of the trials, they were presented with their own argument as if it was (...)
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  11.  46
    Argumentation: its adaptiveness and efficacy.Hugo Mercier & Dan Sperber - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (2):94-111.
    Having defended the usefulness of our definition of reasoning, we stress that reasoning is not only for convincing but also for evaluating arguments, and that as such it has an epistemic function. We defend the evidence supporting the theory against several challenges: People are good informal arguers, they reason better in groups, and they have a confirmation bias. Finally, we consider possible extensions, first in terms of process-level theories of reasoning, and second in the effects of reasoning outside the lab.
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  12.  34
    Self-deception: Adaptation or by-product?Hugo Mercier - 2011 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 34 (1):35-35.
    By systematically biasing our beliefs, self-deception can endanger our ability to successfully convey our messages. It can also lead lies to degenerate into more severe damages in relationships. Accordingly, I suggest that the biases reviewed in the target article do not aim at self-deception but instead are the by-products of several other mechanisms: our natural tendency to self-enhance, the confirmation bias inherent in reasoning, and the lack of access to our unconscious minds.
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  13.  49
    Delusions as Epistemic Hypervigilance.Ryan McKay & Hugo Mercier - forthcoming - Current Directions in Psychological Science.
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  14.  34
    How Good Are We At Evaluating Communicated Information?Hugo Mercier - 2021 - Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 89:257-272.
    Are we gullible? Can we be easily influenced by what others tell us, even if they do not deserve our trust? Many strands of research, from social psychology to cultural evolution suggest that humans are by nature conformist and eager to follow prestigious leaders. By contrast, an evolutionary perspective suggests that humans should be vigilant towards communicated information, so as not to be misled too often. Work in experimental psychology shows that humans are equipped with sophisticated mechanisms that allow them (...)
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  15. Self-serving biases and public justifications in trust games.Cristina Bicchieri & Hugo Mercier - 2013 - Synthese 190 (5):909-922.
    Often, when several norms are present and may be in conflict, individuals will display a self-serving bias, privileging the norm that best serves their interests. Xiao and Bicchieri (J Econ Psychol 31(3):456–470, 2010) tested the effects of inequality on reciprocating behavior in trust games and showed that—when inequality increases—reciprocity loses its appeal. They hypothesized that self-serving biases in choosing to privilege a particular social norm occur when the choice of that norm is publicly justifiable as reasonable, even if not optimal (...)
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  16.  47
    The Reputational Benefits of Intellectual Humility.Mia Karabegovic & Hugo Mercier - 2024 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 15 (2):483-498.
    Much work on intellectual humility has focused on its epistemic benefits. We suggest that displaying (or failing to display) intellectual humility also has effects on how others perceive us and that, as a result, intellectual humility can serve reputation management purposes, in at least four ways: (i) Intellectual humility can be used to signal we are a good source of information; (ii) Intellectual humility can be used to signal we are competent through countersignaling; (iii) Intellectual humility can be used to (...)
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  17.  51
    Why a modular approach to reason?Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier - 2018 - Mind and Language 33 (5):533-541.
    In their reviews, Chater and Oaksford, Dutilh Novaes, and Sterelny are critical of our modularist approach to reason. In this response, we clarify our claim that reason is one of many cognitive modules that produce intuitive inferences each in its domain; the reason module producing intuitions about reasons. We argue that in‐principle objections to the idea of massive modularity based on Fodor's peculiar approach are not effective against other interpretations that have led to insightful uses of the notion in psychology (...)
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  18.  68
    Experts and laymen grossly underestimate the benefits of argumentation for reasoning.Hugo Mercier, Emmanuel Trouche, Hiroshi Yama, Christophe Heintz & Vittorio Girotto - 2015 - Thinking and Reasoning 21 (3):341-355.
    Many fields of study have shown that group discussion generally improves reasoning performance for a wide range of tasks. This article shows that most of the population, including specialists, does not expect group discussion to be as beneficial as it is. Six studies asked participants to solve a standard reasoning problem—the Wason selection task—and to estimate the performance of individuals working alone and in groups. We tested samples of U.S., Indian, and Japanese participants, European managers, and psychologists of reasoning. Every (...)
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  19.  76
    The Social Origins of Folk Epistemology.Hugo Mercier - 2010 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 1 (4):499-514.
    Because reasoning allows us to justify our beliefs and evaluate these justifications it is central to folk epistemology. Following Sperber, and contrary to classical views, it will be argued that reasoning evolved not to complement individual cognition but as an argumentative device. This hypothesis is more consistent with the prevalence of the confirmation and disconfirmation biases. It will be suggested that these biases render the individual use of reasoning hazardous, but that when reasoning is used in its natural, argumentative, context (...)
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  20.  19
    A related proposal: An interactionist perspective on reason.Hugo Mercier - 2018 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 41.
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  21.  67
    The social functions of explicit coherence evaluation.Hugo Mercier - 2012 - Mind and Society 11 (1):81-92.
    Coherence plays an important role in psychology. In this article, I suggest that coherence takes two main forms in humans’ cognitive system. The first belong to ‘system 1’. It relies on the degree of coherence between different representations to regulate them, without coherence being represented. By contrast other mechanisms, belonging to system 2, allow humans to represent the degree of coherence between different representations and to draw inferences from it. It is suggested that the mechanisms of explicit coherence evaluation have (...)
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  22.  32
    Do Easterners and Westerners Treat Contradiction Differently?Hugo Mercier, Yuping Qu, Peng Lu, Jean-Baptiste Van der Henst & Jiehai Zhang - 2015 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 15 (1-2):45-63.
    Peng and Nisbett put forward an influential theory of the influence of culture on the resolution of contradiction. They suggested that Easterners deal with contradiction in a dialectical manner, trying to reconcile opposite points of view and seeking a middle-way. Westerners, by contrast, would follow the law of excluded middle, judging one side of the contradiction to be right and the other to be wrong. However, their work has already been questioned, both in terms of replicability and external validity. Here (...)
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  23.  64
    Looking for Arguments.Hugo Mercier - 2012 - Argumentation 26 (3):305-324.
    Abstract How do people find arguments while engaged in a discussion? Following an analogy with visual search, a mechanism that performs this task is described. It is a metarepresentational device that examines representations in a mostly serial manner until it finds a good enough argument supporting one’s position. It is argued that the mechanism described in dual process theories as ‘system 2’, or analytic reasoning fulfills these requirements. This provides support for the hypothesis that reasoning serves an argumentative function. Content (...)
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  24.  26
    Cross-Cultural Differences in the Valuing of Dominance by Young Children.Rawan Charafeddine, Hugo Mercier, Takahiro Yamada, Tomoko Matsui, Mioko Sudo, Patrick Germain, Stéphane Bernard, Thomas Castelain & Jean-Baptiste Van der Henst - 2019 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 19 (3-4):256-272.
    Developmental research suggests that young children tend to value dominant individuals over subordinates. This research, however, has nearly exclusively been carried out in Western cultures, and cross-cultural research among adults has revealed cultural differences in the valuing of dominance. In particular, it seems that Japanese culture, relative to many Western cultures, values dominance less. We conducted two experiments to test whether this difference would be observed in preschoolers. In Experiment 1, preschoolers in France and in Japan were asked to identify (...)
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  25.  59
    Some Clarifications about the Argumentative Theory of Reasoning. A Reply to Santibáñez Yañez (2012).Hugo Mercier - 2012 - Informal Logic 32 (2):259-268.
    In “Mercier and Sperber’s Argumentative Theory of Reasoning: From Psychology of Reasoning to Argumentation Studies” (2012) Santibáñez Yañez offers constructive comments and criticisms of the argumentative theory of reasoning. The purpose of this reply is twofold. First, it seeks to clarify two points broached by Yanez: (1) the relation between reasoning (in this specific theory) and dual process accounts in general and (2) the benefits that can be derived from reasoning and argumentation (again, in this specific theory). Second, it suggests (...)
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  26.  38
    Intuitions about the epistemic virtues of majority voting.Hugo Mercier, Martin Dockendorff, Yoshimasa Majima, Anne-Sophie Hacquin & Melissa Schwartzberg - forthcoming - Thinking and Reasoning:1-19.
    The Condorcet Jury Theorem, along with empirical results, establishes the accuracy of majority voting in a broad range of conditions. Here we investigate whether naïve participants (in the U.S. and...
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  27.  20
    Is the Use of Averaging in Advice Taking Modulated by Culture?Hugo Mercier, Yayoi Kawasaki, Hiroshi Yama, Kuniko Adachi & Jean-Baptiste Van der Henst - 2012 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 12 (1-2):1-16.
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  28. Solving categorical syllogisms with singular premises.Hugo Mercier & Guy Politzer - 2008 - Thinking and Reasoning 14 (4):434-454.
    We elaborate on the approach to syllogistic reasoning based on “case identification” (Stenning & Oberlander, 1995; Stenning & Yule, 1997). It is shown that this can be viewed as the formalisation of a method of proof that dates back to Aristotle, namely proof by exposition ( ecthesis ), and that there are traces of this method in the strategies described by a number of psychologists, from St rring (1908) to the present day. We hypothesised that by rendering individual cases explicit (...)
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  29. Believing What You're Told: Politeness and Scalar Inferences.Diana Mazzarella, Emmanuel Trouche, Hugo Mercier & Ira Noveck - 2018 - Frontiers in Psychology 9.
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  30.  17
    Intuitive credit attribution and the priority rule.Mia Karabegovic, Tristin Blatt, Pascal Boyer & Hugo Mercier - forthcoming - Philosophical Psychology.
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  31.  28
    ¿Porqué razonan los humanos?Hugo Mercier, Juan Manuel Vivas, Dan Sperber & Cecilia McDonnell - 2019 - Cuadernos Filosóficos / Segunda Época 15.
    Reasoning is generally seen as a means to improve knowledge and make better decisions. However, much evidence shows that reasoning often leads to epistemic distortions and poor decisions. This suggests that the function of reasoning should be rethought. Our hypothesis is that the function of reasoning is argumentative. It is to devise and evaluate arguments intended to persuade. Reasoning so conceived is adaptive given the exceptional dependence of humans on communication and their vulnerability to misinformation. A wide range of evidence (...)
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  32. Under influence.Frédérique De Vignemont & Hugo Mercier - unknown
    In many circumstances we tend to assume that other people believe or desire what we ourselves believe or desire. This has been labeled 'egocentric bias.' This is not to say that we systematically fail to understand other people and forget that they can have a different perspective. If it were the case, then it would be highly difficult, if not impossible, to communicate, cooperate or compete with them. In those situations, we need to take the other person's perspective and to (...)
     
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  33.  18
    Our Pigheaded Core: How We Became Smarter to Be Influenced by Other People.Hugo Mercier - 2013 - In Kim Sterelny, Richard Joyce, Brett Calcott & Ben Fraser (eds.), Cooperation and its Evolution. MIT Press. pp. 373.
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  34.  44
    The function of reasoning: Argumentative and pragmatic alternatives.Hugo Mercier - 2013 - Thinking and Reasoning 19 (3-4):488-494.
    The question of the function of reasoning is drawing increased attention. One suggestion is that the function of reasoning is argumentative: to find arguments to convince others and to evaluate others’ arguments. Darmstadter offers an alternative. According to this pragmatic theory the function of reasoning is to minimally adjust our beliefs so that they remain sound guides for action. This theory is similar to the classical view, which sees reasoning as a way of improving the reasoner's beliefs and decisions. The (...)
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  35.  97
    How to cut a concept? Review of doing without concepts by Edouard Machery.Hugo Mercier - 2010 - Biology and Philosophy 25 (2):269-277.
    As the title “Doing without Concepts” suggests Edouard Machery argues that psychologists should stop using the notion of concept because: (1) the only interesting generalizations about concepts can be drawn at the level of types of concepts (prototypes, exemplars and theories) and not the level of concept in general; and (2) competences such as categorization or induction can rely on these different types of concepts (there is not a one to one correspondence between type of concept and competence). I try (...)
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  36.  38
    What causes failure to apply the Pigeonhole Principle in simple reasoning problems?Hugo Mercier, Guy Politzer & Dan Sperber - 2017 - Thinking and Reasoning 23 (2):184-189.
    The Pigeonhole Principle states that if n items are sorted into m categories and if n > m, then at least one category must contain more than one item. For instance, if 22 pigeons are put into 17 pigeonholes, at least one pigeonhole must contain more than one pigeon. This principle seems intuitive, yet when told about a city with 220,000 inhabitants none of whom has more than 170,000 hairs on their head, many people think that it is merely likely (...)
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  37.  33
    Introduction: Psychology and Culture.Hugo Mercier - 2014 - Topoi 33 (2):437-441.
    Although there might seem to be a natural continuity and interplay between the cognitive sciences and the social sciences, the integration of the two has, on the whole, been fraught with difficulties. In some areas the transition was relatively smooth. For instance, political psychology is now a well-recognized branch both of psychology and of political science. In economics, things have been more difficult, with the entrenched assumption of a perfectly rational homo economicus, but behavioral economics is now well recognized, and (...)
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  38.  25
    Introduction: Recording and Explaining Cultural Differences in Argumentation.Hugo Mercier - 2013 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 13 (5):409-417.
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  39.  8
    Argument evaluation and production in the correction of political innumeracy.Martin Dockendorff & Hugo Mercier - 2024 - Thinking and Reasoning 30 (1):195-217.
    The public is largely innumerate, making systematic mistakes in estimating some politically relevant facts, such as the share of foreign-born citizens. In two-step or multistep flow models, such mistakes could be corrected if better-informed citizens were able to convince their peers, in particular by using good arguments citing reliable sources. In six experiments, we find two issues that dampen the potential power of this two-step flow process. First, even though participants were more convinced by good than by poor arguments, many (...)
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  40.  15
    The vexing question of pointing understanding in animals.Hugo Mercier & Hugo Viciana - unknown
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  41.  15
    Convergent Minds? Examining Some Current Assumptions in the Study of Comparative Social Cognition of Apes, Crows, Dogs, Children and Other Animals.Hugo Viciana & Hugo Mercier - unknown
  42.  60
    Evaluating arguments from the reaction of the audience.Hugo Mercier & Brent Strickland - 2012 - Thinking and Reasoning 18 (3):365 - 378.
    In studying how lay people evaluate arguments, psychologists have typically focused on logical form and content. This emphasis has masked an important yet underappreciated aspect of everyday argument evaluation: social cues to argument strength. Here we focus on the ways in which observers evaluate arguments by the reaction they evoke in an audience. This type of evaluation is likely to occur either when people are not privy to the content of the arguments or when they are not expert enough to (...)
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  43.  19
    Rationalizations primarily serve reputation management, not decision making.Sacha Altay & Hugo Mercier - 2020 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 43.
    We agree with Cushman that rationalizations are the product of biological adaptations, but we disagree about their function. The data available do not show that rationalizations allow us to reason better and make better decisions. The data suggest instead that rationalizations serve reputation management goals, and that they affect our behaviors because we are held accountable by our peers.
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  44.  11
    Being Easy to Communicate Might Make Verdicts Based on Confessions More Legitimate.Hugo Mercier, Anne-Sophie Hacquin & Nicolas Claidière - 2021 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 21 (3-4):203-225.
    In many judicial systems, confessions are a requirement for criminal conviction. Even if confessions are intrinsically convincing, this might not entirely explain why they play such a paramount role. In addition, it has been suggested that confessions owe their importance to their legitimizing role, explaining why they could be required even when other evidence has convinced a judge. But why would confessions be particularly suited to justify verdicts? One possibility is that they can be more easily transmitted from one individual (...)
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  45.  26
    The Cultural Evolution of Oaths, Ordeals, and Lie Detectors.Hugo Mercier - 2020 - Journal of Cognition and Culture 20 (3-4):159-187.
    In a great variety of cultures oaths, ordeals, or lie detectors are used to adjudicate in trials, even though they do not reliably discern liars from truth tellers. I suggest that these practices owe their cultural success to the triggering of cognitive mechanisms that make them more culturally attractive. Informal oaths would trigger mechanisms related to commitment in communication. Oaths used in judicial contexts, by invoking supernatural punishments, would trigger intuitions of immanent justice, linking misfortunes following an oath with perjury. (...)
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  46.  5
    Acknowledgments.Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier - 2017 - In Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier (eds.), The Enigma of Reason. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press. pp. 383-384.
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  47.  10
    14. A Reason for Everything.Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier - 2017 - In Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier (eds.), The Enigma of Reason. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press. pp. 251-261.
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  48.  6
    Conclusion: In Praise of Reason after All.Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier - 2017 - In Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier (eds.), The Enigma of Reason. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press. pp. 328-336.
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  49.  7
    5. Cognitive Opportunism.Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier - 2017 - In Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier (eds.), The Enigma of Reason. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press. pp. 76-89.
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  50.  13
    8. Could Reason Be a Module?Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier - 2017 - In Dan Sperber & Hugo Mercier (eds.), The Enigma of Reason. Cambridge, MA, USA: Harvard University Press. pp. 128-147.
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