Previous research with adults suggests that a catalog of minimally counterintuitive concepts, which underlies supernatural or religious concepts, may constitute a cognitive optimum and is therefore cognitively encoded and culturally transmitted more successfully than either entirely intuitive concepts or maximally counterintuitive concepts. This study examines whether children's concept recall similarly is sensitive to the degree of conceptual counterintuitiveness (operationalized as a concept's number of ontological domain violations) for items presented in the context of a fictional narrative. Seven- to nine-year-old children (...) who listened to a story including both intuitive and counterintuitive concepts recalled the counterintuitive concepts containing one (Experiment 1) or two (Experiment 2), but not three (Experiment 3), violations of intuitive ontological expectations significantly more and in greater detail than the intuitive concepts, both immediately after hearing the story and 1 week later. We conclude that one or two violations of expectation may be a cognitive optimum for children: They are more inferentially rich and therefore more memorable, whereas three or more violations diminish memorability for target concepts. These results suggest that the cognitive bias for minimally counterintuitive ideas is present and active early in human development, near the start of formal religious instruction. This finding supports a growing literature suggesting that diverse, early-emerging, evolved psychological biases predispose humans to hold and perform religious beliefs and practices whose primary form and content is not derived from arbitrary custom or the social environment alone. (shrink)
The Islamic philosophical, mystical, and theological sub-traditions have each made characteristic assumptions about the human person, including an incorporation of substance dualism in distinctive manners. Advances in the brain sciences of the last half century, which include a widespread acceptance of death as the end of essential brain function, require the abandonment of dualistic notions of the human person that assert an immaterial and incorporeal soul separate from a body. In this article, I trace classical Islamic notions of death and (...) the soul, the modern definition of death as "brain death," and some contemporary Islamic responses to this definition. I argue that a completely naturalistic account of human personhood in the Islamic tradition is the best and most viable alternative for the future. This corporeal monistic account of Muslim personhood as embodied consciousness incorporates the insights of pre-modern Muslim thinkers yet rehabilitates their characteristic mistakes and thus has the advantages of neuroscientific validity and modern relevance in trans-cultural ethical discourse; it also helps to alleviate organ shortages in countries with majority Muslim populations, a serious ethical impasse of recent years. (shrink)
People often use indirect speech, for example, when trying to bribe a police officer by asking whether there might be “a way to take care of things without all the paperwork.” Recent game theoretic accounts suggest that a speaker uses indirect speech to reduce public accountability for socially risky behaviors. The present studies examine a secondary function of indirect speech use: increasing the perceived moral permissibility of an action. Participants report that indirect speech is associated with reduced accountability for unethical (...) behavior, as well as increased moral permissibility and increased likelihood of unethical behavior. Importantly, moral permissibility was a stronger mediator of the effect of indirect speech on likelihood of action, for judgments of one's own versus others' unethical action. In sum, the motorist who bribes the police officer with winks and nudges may not only avoid public punishment but also maintain the sense that his actions are morally permissible. (shrink)
The on-the-ground case conference at the interface of philosophical ethics and clinical psychiatry is an innovative idea that advances pedagogy in presenting a creative approach to teaching and practicing psychiatric ethics. In the current exercise of the proposed partnership, there was a generally positive outcome. The philosopher and the psychiatrist learned from each other, were able to find norms that made their collaboration productive, and found that clinical care was enhanced. My commentary aims to help others replicate this model, and (...) preserve its virtues without its vulnerabilities.Would a mathematical logician or philosopher of aesthetics be as good of a collaborator as a moral philosopher? Probably not.... (shrink)
A long-debated question in the philosophy of health, and contingent disciplines, is the extent to which wise clinical practice (“clinical wisdom”) is, or could be, compatible with empirically validated medicine (“evidence-based medicine”—EBM). Here we respond to Baum-Baicker and Sisti, who not only suggest that these two types of knowledge are divided due to their differing sources, but also that EBM can sometimes even hurt wise clinical practice. We argue that the distinction between EBM and clinical wisdom is poorly defined, unsupported (...) by the methodology employed, and ultimately incorrect; crucial differences exist, we argue, not in the source of a particular piece of clinical knowledge, but in its dependability. In light of this subtle but fundamental revision, we explain how clinical wisdom and EBM are—by necessity—complementary, rather than in conflict. We elaborate on how recognizing this relationship can have far-reaching implications for the domains of clinical practice, medical education, and health policy. (shrink)
Stigma against mental disability within the medical field continues to impose significant barriers on physicians and trainees. Here, we examine several implications of this stigma and propose steps toward greater inclusion of persons with mental disabilities in the physician workforce.