intellectual humility
& cultural diversity in philosophy
intellectual humility & cultural diversity in philosophy


for the project


on Cultural Diversity in Philosophical Intuition


on demographic differences & similarities in intuitions

research team

& co-principial investigators


of collecting data

Philosophy is not a discipline noted for intellectual humility. Plato insisted that in an ideal state the king should be a philosopher. Descartes maintained that philosophy is the root from which all the sciences grow. And the Logical Positivists dismissed religion, morality, aesthetics, and political theory as “meaningless nonsense.” Though the lack of intellectual humility in these views is blatant, we believe that there may be another enormously important and largely unrecognized departure from intellectual humility running through much of Western philosophy.

From Plato to the present, philosophers have relied on intuitions about cases as an important source of data. Typically, the philosopher will set out a hypothetical example and pose a question involving a philosophically important concept. Here are two examples:

  1. An acquaintance who asked you to store his weapons asks you to return them after having lost his mind. Would it be morally wrong for you to refuse?
  2. A man believes that it is 2:00 p.m. because he has just glanced at the clock in the town square and the clock says 2:00 p.m. The man is correct; it is 2:00 p.m. However the clock is broken. It always says it is 2:00 p.m. Does the man know that it is 2:00 p.m.?

When there is little disagreement among philosophers, it is assumed that philosophers’ intuitions about cases are both universal and reliable. Thus philosophers’ intuitions can be used as evidence in philosophical arguments. Contemporary philosophers often make claims about “our” intuitions, and what “we” think about cases, where it is clear that “we” is intended to denote not just the philosopher and a few like-minded colleagues, but almost all thoughtful people.

Over the last decade, however, the newly emerging field of “experimental philosophy” has posed a challenge to the claim that the professional philosophers’ intuitions about philosophically important cases are universal. Rather, in a growing number of studies, it has been shown that people in different cultural groups – Asians and Westerners, males and females, people of high and low socio-economic status, people with different personality types, people of different ages, people with different native languages, etc. – have different intuitions about cases designed to explore what people think about knowledge, morality, free will, consciousness and other important philosophical issues. Several studies have suggested that professional philosophers may be a demographic group whose intuitions about cases differ systematically from the intuitions of non-philosophers in their culture.

This project will conduct the largest and most systematic study of philosophical intuitions in different cultural groups ever undertaken. Collecting data in more than 15 countries around the world, we will seek to determine the extent to which philosophical intuitions really do differ cross-culturally. When the data are in, we will assemble an international conference, web-cast live and open to people around the world, to debate their implications. Do they show that philosophers should make major changes in their standard methodology? If so, what changes are appropriate to accommodate cultural differences in philosophical intuition?

Chandler, Proulx, 2008, Personal Persistence and Persistent Peoples: Continuities in the lives of individual and whole cultural communities
In Sani, F. (Ed.), Self-continuity: Individual and collective perspectives. New York: Psychology Press.
Abstract: This chapter is written in two parts. Part Two summarizes an ongoing program of research aimed at determining how young people of different ages, and from different cultural backgrounds, ordinarily succeed in preserving a sense of their own and others’ self- and cultural continuity in the face of inevitable change. By focusing attention on actively suicidal youth, and on selected Aboriginal communities where youth suicide is epidemic, a part of this work also undertakes to tally-up the high costs sometimes levied against those who lose the thread of their own personal and cultural persistence. Before coming to any of this normative and epidemiologic work, however, it is important to first attempt to be clear about what is meant (here and elsewhere) by the notions of self- and cultural continuity, and why threats to the maintenance of such convictions about one’s persistence should prove as disastrous as we will demonstrate them to be. Part One, the part to immediately follow, is intended as a step in the direction of finding answers to these two orienting questions.
Groups examined: First nations in Canada.
Chernyak, Kushnir, Sullivan, Wang (2013). A comparison of Nepalese and American children’s concepts of freedom of choice and social constraint
Cognitive Science, 37, 1343-1355
Abstract: Reecent work has shown that preschool-aged children and adults understand freedom of choice regardless of culture, but that adults across cultures differ in perceiving social obligations as constraints on action. To investigate the development of these cultural differences and universalities, we interviewed school-aged children (4–11) in Nepal and the United States regarding beliefs about people’s freedom of choice and constraint to follow preferences, perform impossible acts, and break social obligations. Children across cultures and ages universally endorsed the choice to follow preferences but not to perform impossible acts. Age and culture effects also emerged: Young children in both cultures viewed social obligations as constraints on action, but American children did so less as they aged. These findings suggest that while basic notions of free choice are universal, recognitions of social obligations as constraints on action may be culturally learned.
Groups examined: Children (4–11) from Nepal and the U.S.
Chernyak, Kushnir, Sullivan, Wang (2011). A comparison of Nepalese and American children’s concepts of free will
Proceedings of the Thirty-Second Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, 144-149.
Abstract: Recent work finds that children as young as four years old have an intuitive belief in free will. To what extent is this early-developing intuition universal, and to what extent culturally situated? We surveyed school-aged children (4-11) in two countries (Nepal and the United States) about their beliefs about people’s “free will” to follow personal preferences; break physical and mental constraints; and break social constraints. Results showed both universal and culturally-learned beliefs in free will. Children across cultures shared the early-developing intuitions of free will and constraint, though American children were more likely construe actions as choices. While American children were more likely to believe in the free will to break social constraints as they aged, Nepali children showed the opposite pattern. These findings show that while a basic notion of free will is present and early-developing across both cultures, construals of choice are also culturally learned over time.
Groups examined: Children (4–11) from Nepal and the U.S.
Sarkissian, Chatterjee, De Brigard, Knobe, Nichols, Sirker (2010) Is Belief in Free Will a Cultural Universal?
Mind & Language, 25, 346–358
Abstract: 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 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 participants said that (a) our universe is indeterministic and (b) moral responsibility is not compatible with determinism.
Groups examined: People from the U.S., Hong Kong, India and Colombia.
Nichols, Stich, Weinberg (2003), Metaskepticism: Meditations in Ethno-Epistemology
In: Luper, ed., The Skeptics, Aldershot, England: Ashgate Publishing) pp. 227-247. Download the paper.
Abstract: In this paper we propose to argue for two claims. The first is that a sizeable group of epistemological projects – a group which includes much of what has been done in epistemology in the analytic tradition – would be seriously undermined if one or more of a cluster of empirical hypotheses about epistemic intuitions turns out to be true. The basis for this claim will be set out in Section 2. The second claim is that, while the jury is still out, there is now a substantial body of evidence suggesting that some of those empirical hypotheses are true. Much of this evidence derives from an ongoing series of experimental studies of epistemic intuitions that we have been conducting. A preliminary report on these studies will be presented in Section 3. In light of these studies, we think it is incumbent on those who pursue the epistemological projects in question to either explain why the truth of the hypotheses does not undermine their projects, or to say why, in light of the evidence we will present, they nonetheless assume that the hypotheses are false. In Section 4, which is devoted to Objections and Replies, we’ll consider some of the ways in which defenders of the projects we are criticizing might reply to our challenge. Our goal, in all of this, is not to offer a conclusive argument demonstrating that the epistemological projects we will be criticizing are untenable. Rather, our aim is to shift the burden of argument.
Groups examined: undergraduates at Rutgers University: Westeners, East Asians, people from the Indian subcontinent
Vaesen, Peterson, Van Bezooijen (2013), The Reliability of Armchair Intuitions
Metaphilosophy, 44(5): 559-578.
Abstract: Armchair philosophers have questioned the significance of recent work in experimental philosophy by pointing out that experiments have been conducted on laypeople and undergraduate students. To challenge a practice that relies on expert intuitions, so the armchair objection goes, one needs to demonstrate that expert intuitions rather than those of ordinary people are sensitive to contingent facts such as cultural, linguistic, socio-economic, or educational background. In this paper we do exactly that. Based on two empirical studies on populations of 817 and 272 trained philosophers respectively, we demonstrate that expert intuitions vary dramatically according to at least one contingent factor, namely the linguistic background of the expert: philosophers make significantly different intuitive judgments if their native language is English rather than Dutch, German, or Swedish. Our findings cast doubt on the common armchair assumption that philosophical theories based on armchair intuitions are valid beyond the linguistic background against which they were developed.
Groups examined: German, Dutch, Swedish, German, and English speaking professional philosophers.
Weinberg, Nichols, Stich (2001), Normativity and epistemic intuitions
Philosophical Topics, 29 (1-2):429-460.
Abstract: In this paper we propose to argue for two claims. The first is that a sizeable group of epistemological projects – a group which includes much of what has been done in epistemology in the analytic tradition – would be seriously undermined if one or more of a cluster of empirical hypotheses about epistemic intuitions turns out to be true. The basis for this claim will be set out in Section 2. The second claim is that, while the jury is still out, there is now a substantial body of evidence suggesting that some of those empirical hypotheses are true. Much of this evidence derives from an ongoing series of experimental studies of epistemic intuitions that we have been conducting. A preliminary report on these studies will be presented in Section 3. In light of these studies, we think it is incumbent on those who pursue the epistemological projects in question to either explain why the truth of the hypotheses does not undermine their projects, or to say why, in light of the evidence we will present, they nonetheless assume that the hypotheses are false. In Section 4, which is devoted to Objections and Replies, we’ll consider some of the ways in which defenders of the projects we are criticizing might reply to our challenge. Our goal, in all of this, is not to offer a conclusive argument demonstrating that the epistemological projects we will be criticizing are untenable. Rather, our aim is to shift the burden of argument.
Groups examined: undergraduates at Rutgers University: Westeners, East Asians, people from the Indian subcontinent
Abarbanell, Hauser (2010), Mayan Morality: An Exploration of Permissible Harms
Cognition, 115 (2):207-224.
Abstract: Anthropologists have provided rich field descriptions of the norms and conventions governing behavior and interactions in small-scale societies. Here, we add a further dimension to this work by presenting hypothetical moral dilemmas involving harm, to a small-scale, agrarian Mayan population, with the specific goal of exploring the hypothesis that certain moral principles apply universally. We presented Mayan participants with moral dilemmas translated into their native language, Tseltal. Paralleling several studies carried out with educated subjects living in large-scale, developed nations, the Mayan participants judged harms caused as the means to a greater good as more forbidden than harms caused as a side-effect (i.e., side-effect bias). However, unlike these other populations living in large-scale societies, as well as a more educated and less rural Mayan comparison group, the target rural Mayan participants did not judge actions causing harm as worse than omissions (i.e., omission bias). A series of probes targeting the action-omission distinction suggest that the absence of an omission bias among the rural Mayan participants was not due to difficulties comprehending the dilemmas, using the judgment scale, or in attributing a greater causal role for actions over omissions. Thus, while the moral distinction between means and side-effect may be more universal, the moral distinction between actions and omission appears to be open to greater cross-cultural variation. We discuss these results in light of issues concerning the role of biological constraints and cultural variation in moral decision-making, as well as the limitations of such experimental, cross-cultural research.
Groups examined: Mayans.
Ahlenius & Tännsjö (2012), Chinese and Westerners Respond Differently to the Trolley Dilemmas
Journal of Cognition and Culture, 12 (3-4):195-201.
Abstract: A set of moral problems known as The Trolley Dilemmas was presented to 3000 randomly selected inhabitants of the USA, Russia and China. It is shown that Chinese are significantly less prone to support utility-maximizing alternatives, as compared to the US and Russian respondents. A number of possible explanations, as well as methodological issues pertaining to the field of surveying moral judgment and moral disagreement, are discussed.
Groups examined: People in China, Russia, and the US.
Beebe, Runya, Wysocki, Endara (under review), Moral Objectivism in Cross-Cultural Perspective
Under review. Download the paper.
Abstract: Moral psychologists have recently turned their attention to the study of folk metaethical beliefs. We report the results of a cross-cultural study using Chinese, Polish, and Ecuadorian participants that seeks to advance this line of investigation. Individuals in all three demographic groups were observed to attribute objectivity to ethical statements in very similar patterns. Differences in participants’ strength of opinion about an issue, the level of societal agreement or disagreement about an issue, and participants’ age were found to significantly affect their inclination to view the truth of an ethical statement as a matter of objective fact. Implications for theorizing about folk morality are discussed.
Groups examined: People in the US, China, Poland, and Ecuador.
Henrich, Boyd, Bowles, Camerer, Fehr, Gintis, McElreath, Alvard, Barr, Ensminger, Hill, Gil-White, Gurven, Marlowe, Patton, Smith, Tracer (2005), ‘Economic Man’ in Cross-cultural Perspective: Behavioral Experiments in 15 Small-scale Societies
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28, 795 – 855. Download the paper.
Abstract: Researchers from across the social sciences have found consistent deviations from the predictions of the canonical model of self-interest in hundreds of experiments from around the world. This research, however, cannot determine whether this uniformity results from universal patterns of human behavior or from the limited cultural variation available among the university students used in virtually all prior experiment al work. To address this, we undertook a cross-cultural study of behavior in Ultimatum, Public Goods, and Dictator Games in fifteen small-scale societies exhibiting a wide variety of economic and cultural conditions.
We found, first, that the canoni cal model—based on pure self-interest—fails in all of the societies studied. Second, the data reveals substantially more behavioral variability across social groups than has been found in previous research. Third, group-level differences in economic organization and the structure of social interactions explain a substantial portion of the behavioral variation across societies: the higher the degree of market integration and the higher the payoffs to cooperation in everyday life, the greater the level of prosociality expressed in experimental games. Fourth, the available indi vidual-level economic and demographic variables do not robustly explain game behavior, either within or across groups. Fifth, in many cases experimental play appears to reflect the common interactional patterns of everyday life.
Groups examined: members of 15 small-scale societies all over the world.
Ladd (2012), The Structure of a Moral Code: A Philosophical Analysis of Ethical Discourse Applied to the Ethics of the Navaho Indians
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
About the book: Ladd argues that the Navaho ethical system is rationalistic or non-authoritarian in its arguments, materialistic in its goals, and egoistic in its justification of obligations, with a few utilitarian elements. He compares the system with the egoistic ethical theories of Epicurus, Hobbes, and Spinoza, and finds the greatest similarities with Hobbes' theory. The published material on the Navaho, as well as his own field notes, seem to bear out his conclusions thoroughly (from a review by Diesing (1957), Philosophy of Science, 24 (4), p. 362).
Groups examined: the Navaho Indians.
philosophy of language
Beebe, Undercoffer Individual and Cross-Cultrual Differences in Semantic Intuitions: New Experimental Findings
Under review. Download the paper.
Abstract: In 2004 Edouard Machery, Ron Mallon, Shaun Nichols, and Stephen Stich published what has be come one of the most widely discussed papers in experimental philosophy, in which they reported that East Asian and Western participants had different intuitions about the semantic reference of proper names. A flurry of criticisms of their work has emerged, and although various replications have been performed, many critics remain unconvinced. We review the current debate over Machery et al.’s (2004) results and take note of which objections to their work have been satisfactorily answered and which ones still need to be addressed. We then report the results of studies that reveal significant cross-cultural and intra-cultural differences in semantic intuitions when we control for variables that critics allege have had a potentially distorting effect on Machery et al.’s findings. These variables include the epistemic perspective from which participants are supposed to understand the research materials, unintended anchoring effects of those materials, and pragmatic factors involved in the interpretation of speech acts with in them. Our results confirm the robustness of the cross-cultural differences observed by Machery et al. and thereby strengthen the philosophical challenge they pose
Groups examined: Americans, Chinese people.
Lam (2010), Are Cantonese Speakers Really Descriptivists? Revisiting Cross-Cultural Semantics
Cognition, 115 (2):320–32.
Abstract: In an article in Cognition, Machery, Mallon, Nichols, and Stich [Machery et al., 2004] present data which purports to show that “East Asian” native Cantonese speakers tend to have descriptivist intuitions about the referents of proper names, while “Western” native English speakers tend to have causal-historical intuitions about proper names. Machery et al take this finding to support the view that some intuitions, the universality of which they claim is central to philosophical theories, vary according to cultural background. Machery et al hypothesize that the differences in intuitions about reference stem from general psychological differences between Eastern and Western subjects. Machery et al conclude from their findings that the philosophical methodology of consulting intuitions about hypothetical cases is flawed vis ` a vis the goal of determining truths about some philosophical domains. To quote Machery et al, “our data indicate that philosophers must radically revise their methodology” because “the intuitions philosophers pronounce from their armchairs are likely to be a product of their own culture and their academic training” ( [Machery et al., 2004] pp.B9). “The evidence suggests that it is wrong for philosophers to assume a priori the universality of their own semantic intuitions” ( [Machery et al., 2004] pp. B8). In the following study, I present data incompatible with Machery et al’s results. Native Cantonese-speaking immigrants from a Cantonese diaspora 1 in Southern California do not have descriptivist intuitions about the referents of proper names when presented with a Cantonese story and Cantonese questions about reference and truth-value. This data raises questions about the quality of Machery et al’s study and the conclusions they draw from it.
Groups examined: Americans of Western descent, and Cantonese-speaking immigrants in the US. No difference found.
Machery, Deutsch, Mallon, Nichols, Sytsma, Stich (2010), Semantic intuitions: Reply to Lam
Cognition, 117, 361-366.
Abstract: How do proper names refer? Roughly, causal-historical theories hold that proper names refer to the entities to which they are historically linked, while descriptivist theories hold that names refer to the individuals that satisfy the descriptions competent speakers associate with them. Machery, Mallon, Nichols, and Stich (2004) reported that some philosophically important intuitions about the reference of proper names in hypothetical situations (viz. in Kripke’s [1972/1980] Gödel case) vary both within and across cultures. While Americans tend to have causal-historical intuitions—intuitions in line with what causal-historical theories of reference say proper names refer to—Chinese tend to have descriptivist intuitions—intuitions in line with what descriptivist theories of reference say proper names refer to. In addition, they provided evidence that a sizeable minority of Americans have descriptivist intuitions and a sizeable minority of Chinese causal- historical intuitions.
In a thought-provoking article, Lam proposes a deflationary explanation of the cross-cultural variation found by Machery et al. (2004). Lam’s explanation proceeds in two steps. First, noting that the Chinese participants in Machery et al. were presented with vignettes in English, he hypothesizes that their descriptivist answers might be due to their limited linguistic competence in English. He presents new evidence that Cantonese speakers tend to have causal-historical intuitions when they are presented with vignettes in Chinese just as speakers of English do when they are presented with vignettes in English, and he concludes that “[t]his data raises questions about whether cross-cultural variation in answers to questions on certain vignettes reveal genuine differences in intuitions, or whether differences in answers stem from non-intuitional differences, such as differences in linguistic competence.” Second, Lam proposes that, perhaps because of their limited linguistic competence, Chinese participants in Machery et al. (2004) might have given descriptivist answers because they mistake the causally-historically referring proper names used in the Gödel vignette for another class of names that do refer descriptively (the Julius-type names). As he puts it (ms 14), “[i]f there were some way in which a group of speakers mistakenly interpreted genuine ‘Gödel’-type cases to be ‘Julius’-type cases, then there would be an appearance of descriptivist intuitions where in fact there are none. Perhaps in Machery et al.’s original study, the non-native but still fluent speakers of English for some reason or other (a) exhibited an incomplete grasp of how English names were working in the story, or (b) interpreted English probes of the ‘Gödel’-type as probes of the ‘Julius’-type.”
In this article, we critically discuss Lam’s two hypotheses. In Section 1, we present some new evidence that the cross-cultural findings reported in Machery et al. (2004) are not due to the fact that participants in Hong-Kong were presented with vignettes in English. In Section 2, we propose two distinct explanations of the differences between Lam’s and Machery et al.’s findings. In Section 3, we examine Lam’s second hypothesis: The Chinese participants in Machery et al. (2004) erroneously identified names like “Gödel” with another type of names, Julius-type names. Finally, in Section 4, we briefly discuss the philosophical significance of the cross-cultural findings reported in previous work.
Groups examined: Americans, Chinese people.
A response to Lam (2010).
Machery, Mallon, Nichols, Stich (2004), Semantics, Cross-Cultural Style
Cognition, 92 (3). Download the paper
Abstract: Theories of reference have been central to analytic philosophy, and two views, the descriptivist view of reference and the causal-historical view of reference, have dominated the field. In this research tradition, theories of reference are assessed by consulting one’s intuitions about the reference of terms in hypothetical situations. However, recent work in cultural psychology (e.g. Nisbett, R. E., Peng, K., Choi, I., & Norenzayan, A. (2001). Culture and systems of thought: holistic vs. analytic cognition. Psychological Review, 108, 291 – 310.) has shown systematic cognitive differences between East Asians and Westerners, and some work indicates that this extends to intuitions about philosophical cases (Weinberg, J., Nichols, S., & Stich, S. (2001). Normativity and epistemic intuitions. Philosophical Topics 29 (1&2), 429 – 459.) In light of these findings on cultural differences, an experiment was conducted which explored intuitions about reference in Westerners and East Asians. The experiment indicated that, for certain central cases, Westerners are more likely than East Asians to report intuitions that are consistent with the causal-historical view. These results constitute prima facie evidence that semantic intuitions vary from culture to culture, and the paper argues that this fact raises questions about the nature of the philosophical enterprise of developing a theory of reference
Groups examined: Americans, Chinese people.
Machery, Olivola, de Blanc (2009), Linguistic and metalinguistic intuitions in the philosophy of language
Analysis, 69, 689-694.
Excerpt: We examined the linguistic and metalinguistic intuitions elicited by the two Tsu Ch’ung Chih cases in three countries that differ substantially in terms of their culture: India, Mongolia and France. In each country, participants were presented with one of our two vignettes. Figure 1 reports the proportion of Kripkean judgements for each vignette in these three countries.
Overall, we found the same pattern of answers in all three countries. Although the proportion of Kripkean judgements was somewhat higher in the linguistic than in the metalinguistic case for all three samples, this difference was very small and it never reached significance. Even though null 115 results are difficult to interpret, one can at least conclude that any differences in the proportions of Kripkean linguistic and metalinguistic intuitions among Indians, French and Mongolians are not large
Groups examined: people from India, France, and Mongolia.
Sytsma, Livengood (2011), A New Perspective Concerning Experiments on Semantic Intuitions
Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 89 (2):315-332. Download the paper
Abstract: In two fascinating articles, Machery, Mall on, Nichols, and Stich [2004, forthcoming] use experimental methods to raise a specter of doubt about reliance on intuitions in developing theories of reference which are then deployed in philosophical arguments outside the philosophy of language. Machery et al. ran a cross-cultural survey asking Western and East Asian participants about a famous case from the philosophical literature on reference (Kripke’s Gödel example). They interpret their results as indicating that there is significant variation in participants’ intuitions about semantic reference for that case. We argue that this interpretation is mistaken. We detail a type of ambiguity found in Machery et al.’s probe but not yet noted in theresponse literature. We argue that this epistemic ambiguity could have affected their results. We do not stop there, however: Rather than rest content with a possibility claim, we ran four studies to test the impact of this ambiguity on participants’ responses. We found that this accounts for much of the variation in Machery et al.’s original experiment. We conclude that in the light of our new data, their argument is no longer convincing.
Groups examined: Americans, Japanese.
philosophy of action
Knobe, Burra (2006), Intention and Intentional Action: A Cross-Cultural Study
Journal of Culture and Cognition, 6, 113-132.
Abstract: Recent studies point to a surprising divergence between people's use of the concept of intention and their use of the concept of acting intentionally. It seems that people's application of the concept of intention is determined by their beliefs about the agent's psychological states whereas their use of the concept of acting intentionally is determined at least in part by their beliefs about the moral status of the behavior itself (i.e., by their beliefs about whether the behavior is morally good or morally bad). These findings raise a number of difficult questions about the relationship between the concept of intention and the concept of acting intentionally. The present paper addresses those questions using a variety of different methods, including conceptual analysis, psychological experimentation, and an examination of people's use of certain expressions in other languages.
Groups examined: Hindi-speaking students of Yale and Princeton.
Co-principal Investigators
Stephen Stich

Stephen Stich is Board of Governors Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at Rutgers University and Director of the Research Group on Evolution and Cognition. He is also Honorary Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield. Prior to joining the Rutgers faculty in 1989, he taught at the University of Michigan, the University of Maryland and the University of California, San Diego.

He has lectured in more than 30 countries around the world and has been Visiting Professor at a number of leading universities in the USA, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and South Korea. His publications include six books, a dozen anthologies and over 150 articles. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a recipient of the Jean Nicod Prize awarded by the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, and the first recipient of the Gittler Award for Outstanding Scholarly Contribution in the Philosophy of the Social Sciences.

Stephen Stich's personal website:

Edouard Machery

Edouard Machery is Associate Professor in the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, a Fellow of the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, and a member of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (University of Pittsburgh-Carnegie Mellon University). His research focuses on the philosophical issues raised by psychology and cognitive neuroscience with a special interest in concepts, moral psychology, the relevance of evolutionary biology for understanding cognition, modularity, the nature, origins, and ethical significance of prejudiced cognition, and the methods of psychology and cognitive neuroscience.

He has published more than 70 articles and chapters on these topics in venues such as Analysis, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Cognition, Mind & Language, Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Philosophical Studies, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and Philosophy of Science. He is the author of Doing without Concepts (OUP, 2009) as well as the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Compositionality (OUP, 2012), La Philosophie Expérimentale (Vuibert, 2012), and of Arguing about Human Nature (Routledge, 2013). He has been an associate editor of The European Journal for Philosophy of Science since 2009 and the editor of the Naturalistic Philosophy section of Philosophy Compass since 2012.

He is also involved in the development of experimental philosophy, having published several noted articles in this field. Machery’s work has been chronicled in The New York Times and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Edouard Machery's personal websites:

Research Team
Renatas Berniunas

Renatas Berniunas is a lecturer and a researcher at the Faculty of Philosophy, Vilnius University, Lithuania. His research interests include cognition and culture, moral psychology, folk psychology, and experimental philosophy. Together with Vilius Dranseika, he currently runs two research projects in Experimental Philosophy: one on the concept of a person and another one on the nature of moral judgment. Additionally, he received a postdoc grant from the Lithuanian Research Council to conduct a cross-cultural study on the moral/conventional distinction.

Renatas Berniunas's email:

Emma Buchtel

Dr. Emma Buchtel is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychological Studies at the Hong Kong Institute of Education. Her main research squeeze is currently lay morality concepts in China vs. the West, but she also has done research on cultural differences in personality and its effect on behavior, the perceived value of analytic vs. holistic reasoning styles, and the pleasure of doing one's duty.

She did her B.A. at Yale in Psychology & Philosophy, and after spending four years in Mainland China, did her MA and PhD in Psychology at the University of British Columbia.

Emma Buchtel's personal website:

Amita Chatterjee

Prof. Amita Chatterjee is currently a National Fellow of Indian Council of Philosophical Research, New Delhi and Emeritus Professor of the Department of Philosophy and School of cognitive Science, Jadavpur University, Kolkata, India. She is associated with the National Programme of Perception Engineering of Department of Information Technology, and she is working on different aspects of perception of emotion.

Amita Chatterjee's email:
The website of the School of Cognitive Science, Jadavpur University:

Florian Cova

Florian Cova is a postdoctoral researcher in philosophy and psychology at the Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences, University of Geneva. His work focuses on the role of emotions and affect in both moral and aesthetic evaluations, combining philosophical and psychological methods.

The website of the Swiss Centre for Affective Sciences:
Personal website:

Vilius Dranseika

Vilius Dranseika is a lecturer and a researcher in the Faculty of Philosophy at Vilnius University, Lithuania. His research interests include Philosophy of Action, Moral Psychology, and Research Ethics. Together with Renatas Berniunas, he currently runs two research projects in Experimental Philosophy, one on the concept of a person and another one on the nature of moral judgment.

Vilius Dranseika's email:

Amir Horowitz

Amir Horowitz is an Associate Professor of philosophy and cognitive science at the Open University of Israel. He specializes in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science, the philosophy of language, experimental philosophy, and the philosophy of football. Currently, he is writing a book about intentionality, in which he proposes an irrealistic view.

Amir Horowitz's email:
Personal website:

Laleh Ghadakpour

Laleh Ghadakpour studied and worked as an engineer in Tehran before moving to Paris where she studied Philosophy and Cognitive Science at the Université Panthéon-Sorbonne and at the École Polytechnique. She returned to Tehran in 2004 and participated there in the organization of several newly created graduate programs and taught various courses as Logic, Philosophy of Mind, and Philosophy of Language. She resigned from her position at the Iranian Institute of Philosophy in summer 2011.

Chris Olivola

Chris Olivola is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at Carnegie Mellon University's Tepper School of Business. His research interests span several related areas, including decision making, behavioral economics, social cognition, and experimental philosophy. He received his BA from the University of Chicago and his MA + PhD from Princeton University.

Personal website:

Carlos Romero

A graduate student at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico.

Personal website:

Alejandro Rosas

Alejandro Rosas is a professor at the National University of Colombia. He completed his doctoral studies in Germany with a dissertation on Kant’s refutation of idealism. Since 1996, he has been interested in projects in naturalistic philosophy that are informed by an evolutionary perspective. He has written extensively about the evolution and psychology of altruism and moral behavior. His interest in experimental philosophy is recent, with papers on the moral/conventional distinction, on the “Knobe effect,” and on the neuropsychology of moral judgment.

Alejandro Rosas's email: Personal websites:,,

Paulo Sousa

Dr. Paulo Sousa is Director of the Institute of Cognition and Culture, Queen's University, Belfast and Senior Lecturer in Cognitive Anthropology. He holds a BA and a MA in anthropology (University of Brasilia, Brazil), a MA in cognitive science (Institut Jean Nicod, Paris), and a PhD in anthropology with specialization in cognition and culture (University of Michigan, USA). He has participated in many cross-cultural projects and published numerous articles in the field of cognition and culture. He also applied an epidemiological approach to the history of ideas of anthropology that stimulated a major controversy amongst anthropologist from all traditions.

His current research interests focus on agency and moral psychology as well as their relation to religion. He is also associate coordinator of the Porto X-Phi Lab, a laboratory of experimental philosophy in Porto, Portugal, and external examiner of the programme in cognitive and evolutionary anthropology of the Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology at the University of Oxford, UK.

Personal website:

Noel Struchiner

Noel Struchiner has been a Professor of Law and Philosophy at the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro (PUC-Rio) since 2008. Traditionally, his core research has been in analytical legal philosophy, discussing the nature of law as well as issues in normative jurisprudence. He has investigated the extent to which law can be understood as a system of rules, the linguistic indeterminacy of legal rules, and the comparative virtues of different decision-making models in the law (rule-based models vs. particularistic models of decision-making). More recently, he has started doing work in experimental philosophy and moral psychology as applied to law and the intersections of law and morality, discussing, for example, how empathy affects legal decision-making, how the abstract and concrete paradox and the paradox of order effects affect legal judgments, and investigating the general role of emotions in the law.

Besides teaching courses in philosophy and legal theory, he is currently one of the coordinators of the Practical Ethics Center at PUC-Rio and one of the leaders of the project “Ethics and Contemporary Reality.” Before working at PUC-Rio, he was a Professor at the Law Department of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), from 2006 to 2008.

The website for the Applied Ethics Center
Noel Struchiner's personal website:

Naoki Usui

Naoki Usui is an associate professor at Mie University in Japan. He received his Ph.D degrees from Kyoto University and University of Sheffield respectively in 2009 and 2013. His research interests include philosophy of mind, epistemology, and nativism.

Zhang Xueyi

Zhang Xueyi is Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and Science, Southeast University, P. R. China. He was a visiting scholar at Rutgers. From 2002 to 2013, he did his BA in Sociology, MA and PhD in Philosophy of Science and Technology at Southeast University. His research interests include Experimental Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Mind, History of Science, and Sociology of Science.

In-Rae Cho

In-Rae Cho is Professor at Department of Philosophy, Seoul National University in South Korea.

Kaori Karasawa

Kaori Karasawa is a professor of social psychology at The University of Tokyo. She and her lab specializes in topics such as social cognition and mind reading, moral judgments, and self regulation. Recently, she has also been teaming up with philosophers in a project to reconsider the social psychological methodology. She received her PhD at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Hackjin Kim

Hackjin Kim is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Korea University. His research interests are in the fields of neuroeconomics and social neuroscience, primarily focusing on the psychological and neurobiological mechanisms of social and emotional influences on decision-making. He is currently working on several functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies on altruistic motivation, empathy, social comparison, first impression, and social conformity. He has many publications on the research topics listed above in high profile journals such as Science, PLoS Biology, PNAS, Journal of Neuroscience, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Cerebral Cortex, and Social, Cognitive, and Affective Neuroscience. He has been an associate editor of the Journal of Neuropsychology since 2011.

David Rose

David Rose is currently a graduate student in the Department of Philosophy at Rutgers University. Before coming to Rutgers, he earned an M.S. in Logic, Computation and Methodology from Carnegie Mellon University and a B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology from Ohio University. He is currently interested in issues at the intersection of cognitive science and metaphysics and cognitive science and epistemology.

For a list of papers and other info please visit his personal website:

Mario Alai

Mario Alai is associate professor of theoretical philosophy at the University of Urbino, lecturing in epistemology and philosophy of language. After graduating from the University of Bologna in 1975, he earned a Laudatur form the University of Helsinki, a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland and a Ph.D. from the University of Florence. His main research areas are the current debates on scientific and metaphysical realism.

Alejandro Vázquez del Mercado

A graduate student at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico.

Personal website:

Jing Zhu

Professor at Sun Yat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China.


Masaharu Mizumoto

Associate Professor at Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, Japan

Personal website:

Min Woo Lee

Deptartment of Psychology, Korea University.


Jorge Ornelas

Universidad Autónoma Metropolitana, Mexico.

Email: .

Carlos Eduardo Evangelisti Mauro

Carlos Mauro is Director of BEO Lab - Behavior, Economics and Organizations Laboratory and Assistant Professor, School of Economics and Management, Portuguese Catholic University - Porto. He holds a BSc in Economics, a MSc in Public Administration and Government, a PhD in Philosophy (philosophy of action – x-phi research) and a Post-doc in Philosophy (x-phi research).

His current research interests focus on issues in Experimental Philosophy and Behavioral Economics, comprising such topics as: folk concepts of weakness and strength of will; dignity; personal identity; the moral nature of folk economic concepts and judgments; folk economics; and the relationship between empathy and economic behavior. He is also coordinator of the Porto X-Phi Lab, a laboratory of experimental philosophy in Porto, Portugal, which seeks to develop the X-Phi in Portuguese Language context.

Personal Website:
His email:

Angeles Eraña Lagos

Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico.


Personal website: here.

Yasmina Jraissati

Lecturer in Philosophy at the Department of Philosophy, American University of Beirut, Lebanon.


Personal website: here.

Takaaki Hashimoto

Department of Social Psychology, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology, University of Tokyo, Japan.


Personal website:

Daniel Cohnitz

Head of the Chair of Theoretical Philosophy, Professor of Theoretical Philosophy, Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics, University of Tartu, Estonia.


Personal website:

Hyundeuk Cheon

Hyundeuk Cheon teaches philosophy courses at Seoul National University. He was formerly a research fellow in Institute for Cognitive Science, Seoul National University and a visiting scholar at University of Pittsburgh. He has interest in the issues in philosophy of science and philosophy of cognitive science, where he has published several papers. He is currently working on scientific concepts seen from a cognitive perspective.


Veselina Kadreva

Veselina Kadreva received her M.Sc. degree in Cognitive Science from the New Bulgarian University.

Currently she is working on her PhD thesis conducting biosignal based research aiming to explore the role of emotions in the process of moral judgment.


Evgeniya Hristova

Evgeniya Hristova has a PhD in Cognitive Science and is an assistant professor at the New Bulgarian University. She is actively doing research in the fields of game theory and decision-making, moral psychology, art perception, emotions. In her research she combines psychological experiments, eye-tracking recordings, and psychophysiological measures.


Personal website:

Maurice Grinberg

Maurice Grinberg is associate professor of cognitive science and physics in the Department of Psychology and Cognitive Science of the New Bulgarian University. He has more than hundred publications in the field of cognitive modelling, behavioural economics, and physics. His present interests are related to the modelling of social interactions with cognitive agents, the theoretical and experimental study of social and moral dilemmas and their cognitive aspects, and art perception.


Advisory Committee

Pictures from the sites in Columbia where Alejandro Rosas and his team collected the data.

In 2014, a conference How Should Philosophy Deal With Cultural Diversity (and/or Cultural Convergence) in Philosophical Intuition? will be organized. The conference will be webcast live to allow people who are not physically present at the conference to join in the debate. Selected papers from the conference will be published in a volume by a leading academic publisher.

The official call for papers will appear here.

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