Has Natural Selection Shaped How Humans Reason?
Dr. Leda Cosmides, UCSB, Evolutionary Psychology
Dr. John Tooby, UCSB, Anthropology Dept.
The study of the human mind has recently been moved into the natural sciences through biology, computer science, and allied disciplines, and the result has been the revelation of a wholly new and surprising picture of human nature. Instead of the human mind being a blank slate governed by a few general purpose principles of reasoning and learning, it is full of "reasoning instincts" and "innate knowledge" -- that is, it resembles a network of dedicated computers each specialized to solve a different type of problem, each running under its own richly coded, distinctly nonstandard logic. The programs that comprise the human mind (or brain) were selected for not because of their generality, but because of their specialized success in solving the actual array of problems that our ancestors faced during their evolution, such as navigating the social world, reasoning about macroscopic rigid objects as tools, "computing" or perceiving beauty, foraging, understanding the biological world, and so on. Much of this research has taken place at UCSB, and in the talk we will show how "logic probes" have been used to map these reasoning instincts.

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