Nick Byrd
Nick Byrd
Apr 3, 2019 · 3 min read

This seems like a great idea. Reading (or understanding) peer-reviewed articles has been far more edifying than reading books in my experience: articles provide more information, more clearly, and in fewer words. In Sum could be really valuable in giving people a glimpse of this information—and help them find out what papers they want to read in full—if any. Thanks Steve!

(Also, I bet you could get scholars to write the first draft of the 500 words for you, if you email them asking for one. They often have to write 500–1000 word abstracts of their work for conferences.)

A couple important papers in my area, in case they are of interest for the first few posts:

“Sacrificial utilitarian judgments do reflect concern for the greater good: Clarification via process dissociation and the judgments of philosophers”

  • Take-away #1: Not everyone’s judgments about moral dilemmas are equal. The philosophers judgment is probably different than the layperson’s. So while some responses to moral dilemmas are consistent with deontology or utilitarianism, we cannot thereby infer that these responses are the result of explicit commitments to deontological or utilitarian values. Indeed, we can distinguish between 5 levels of utilitarian judgments about moral dilemmas—and presumably, many levels of deontological judgments.
  • Take-away #2: The range of moral dilemma judgments do not exist on a single dimension—e.g., from deontological to utilitarian. Rather, deontological, utilitarian, (and other) tendencies on moral dilemmas are dissociable, orthogonal—and they should be analyzed as such. Failing to dissociate these moral dilemma tendencies is what causes people to be misled into concluding that utilitarian moral judgments are uniquely driven by psychopathic, anti-social traits (Kahane et al., 2015) or by reflection (Baron et al., 2015).

Another important paper in my field:

“Conceptual centrality and implicit bias”

  • Background: Some scholars think that implicit bias is associtive—our reflexive responses to certain stimulu—e.g., PITBULL—is driven by an assocition between that concept and a negative feeling/valence—e.g., DANGEROUS. But if implicit bias were merely associative, then this association should work in reverse: when presented with DANGER, the associated category PITBULL should spring to mind. But implicit bias doesn’t seem to work in reverse in many cases. So, others think that implicit bias must be propositional.
  • The innovation: Concept-centrality. Del Pinal and Spaulding provide a middle way of explaining implicit bias. They exchange the association relation with the concept-centrality relation. This provides a way of formally capturing both the seemingly associative nature of implicit bias (e.g., the dependencies between representations like PITBULL and valenced representations like DANGER) and the seemingly propositional nature of implicit bias (e.g., non-bi-directional dependencies: PITBULLS ⇒ DANGEROUS vs. DANGER ⇏ PITBULLS). The idea is that DANGER is a central feature of the concept PITBULL (for many people), but PITBULL just isn’t as central a feature of the concept DANGER. So they’re associated, but not bi-directionally (or propositionally). So, concept centrality framework seems to obviate the associative vs. propositional dichotomy—about implicit bias and all other forms of category learning/deployment. Indeed, concept-centrality probably manages to unify and explain far more than the other papers on this topic—including my own (Byrd, 2019).

I’ve some papers under review and in the pipeline that could cause a splash. I’d be happy to summarize their take-aways once they’re published.

Apologies for typos.

Written by

Nick Byrd

Fellow, PhD candidate | Cognitive Science, Philosophy | @FloridaState | #reasoning #wellbeing #willpower | Also: #webDev, #runner, former #carpenter

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