Dan Sperber (2001) L’individuel sous influence du collectif. La Recherche 344, 32-35.

“Notre activité mentale s’appuie sur des mémoires externes qui ont évolué avec le développement de l’écriture, de l’imprimerie, et maintenant des nouvelles technologies de l’information. Une évolution dont doivent tenir compte aussi bien les sciences sociales que les sciences cognitives…”

Dan Sperber (2001) An evolutionary perspective on testimony and argumentation. Philosophical Topics 29, 401-413.

“…A significant proportion of socially acquired beliefs are likely to be false beliefs, and this not just as a result of the malfunctioning, but also of the proper functioning of social communication…” [PDF version]

Vittorio Girotto, Markus Kemmelmeier, Dan Sperber, Jean-Baptiste Van der Henst (2001) Inept reasoners or pragmatic virtuosos? Relevance and the deontic selection task. Cognition 81, 69-76.

Abstract: Most individuals fail the selection task, selecting P and Q cases, when they have to test descriptive rules of the form ªIf P, then Qº. But they solve it, selecting P and not-Q cases, when they have to test deontic rules of the form ªIf P, then must Qº. According to relevance theory, linguistic comprehension processes determine intuitions of relevance that, in turn, determine case selections in both descriptive and deontic problems. We tested the relevance theory predictions in a within-participants experiment. The results showed that the same rule, regardless of whether it is tested descriptively or deontically, can be made to yield more P and Q selections or more P and not-Q selections. We conclude that the selection task does not provide a tool to test general claims about human reasoning.

Dan Sperber (2001) In Defense of massive modularity. In E. Dupoux (ed.), Language, Brain and Cognitive Development: Essays in Honor of Jacques Mehler. (MIT Press), 47-57.

“In October 1990, a psychologist, Susan Gelman, and three anthropologists whose interest for cognition had been guided and encouraged by Jacques Mehler, Scott Atran, Larry Hirschfeld and myself, organized a conference on “Cultural Knowledge and Domain Specificity” … A main issue at stake was the degree to which cognitive development, everyday cognition, and cultural knowledge are based on dedicated domain-specific mechanisms, as opposed to a domain-general intelligence and learning capacity…” [PDF version]

Dan Sperber (2001) Conceptual tools for a natural science of society and culture (Radcliffe-Brown Lecture in Social Anthopology 1999). Proceedings of the British Academy 111, 297-317.

Abstract: To approach society and culture in a naturalistic way, the domain of the social sciences must be reconceptualised by recognising only entities and processes of which we have a naturalistic understanding. These are mental representations and public productions, the processes that causally link them, the causal chains that bond these links, and the complex webs of such causal chains that criss-cross human populations over time and space. Such causal chains may distribute and stabilise representations and productions throughout a human population, thereby generating culture. The lecture introduces several conceptual tools useful for such a naturalistic approach, and illustrates their use with the case study of ritual activity in a Southern Ethiopian household. [PDF version]