Skip to content
University of Oregon

News

ICDS Member, Tom Givón To Give Talk

APRIL 5, 2017
NOON
257 STRAUB HALL

 

ARE WE A WARLIKE SPECIES?
T. Givón
I was recently asked this question by a Quaker friend, and before I knew it I was pressed into giving
a lecture on a subject that is, surely, not my field of expertise. I was, of course, vaguely familiar with
some of the more recent post-Darwinian evolutionary discussion. But I thought it would be fun to
trace the history of the topic as far back as the written records would go. Whereby it turned out that
the question has always been folded into the more general discussion of “Is human morality
natural and innate, or an artifice of culture, convention, law and training?” The first 2/3 of the
paper is thus a historical survey, a reader really, from Genesis to Jesus to the Classics to the Church
to the Enlightenment to Darwin. Till Adam Smith and Charles Darwin, all great thinkers seemed
compelled to answer the question with either “yes” or “no” (with some inevitable hedging). Both
Smith and Darwin recognized the complexity of the issue–and of human nature–and refused to
give a clean reductive answer. Which turns out to have presaged the answers emerging out of the
more recent empirical work in evolutionary bio-anthro-psychology. Most relevant to the complex
recent evolutionary synthesis is the distinction between individual selection and group selection;
and the recognition that–contra Hamilton and Trivers–the latter is not simply an automatic
derivation from the former, but that social species are, rather, of a dual nature, both selfish/warlike
and empathic/cooperative, depending on the context.

For download of the complete paper go here.

Marcela Mendoza eBook Publication

The Instituto de Investigaciones Geohistóricas, Universidad Nacional del Nordeste (Resistencia, Chaco, Argentina) published a brief eBook with ICDS member, Marcela Mendoza’s work on children’s war games in hunter-gatherer societies in Spanish, with the title “Juegos de combate entre varones de grupos etnográficos cazadores-recolectores.”

You’ll find it attached here. It can also be download from the Instituto’s website (www.iighi-conicet.gob.ar) on Publicaciones

http://www.iighi-conicet.gob.ar/publicacion-del-libro-juegos-de-combate-entre-varones-de-grupos-etnograficos-cazadores-recolectores-de-marcela-mendoza/

*New!!! Mark Johnson to Present at the SOJC Research Presentation Series

sojc_research_presentation_2016The SOJC Research Presentation Series is featuring ICDS member Dr. Mark Johnson (Philip H. Knight Professor of Liberal Arts and Sciences) in the Department of Philosophy. Open to all faculty and students, and staff.

*Blog Post From Michelle Scalise Sugiyama

Michelle Scalise Sugiyama, a member of the Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences, writes a blog for the Huffington Post.  Check out her most recent post “Ingroup/Outgroup Biases at Play in Police-Community Relations” and the archives of others here.

Her research examines the role that storytelling played in human evolution by looking at the knowledge it takes to make a living as a hunter-gather and the use of stories to transmit this knowledge. Her courses look at how universal characters and genres — e.g., tricksters, monsters, heroes, love stories, war narratives —address recurrent problems of human life.

*New Huffington Post Blog From Michelle Scalise Sugiyama

Michelle Scalise Sugiyama, a member of the Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences, writes a blog for the Huffington Post.  Check out her most recent post and the archives of others here.

Her research examines the role that storytelling played in human evolution by looking at the knowledge it takes to make a living as a hunter-gather and the use of stories to transmit this knowledge. Her courses look at how universal characters and genres — e.g., tricksters, monsters, heroes, love stories, war narratives —address recurrent problems of human life.

*Two ICDS Members Research Links

Michelle Scalise Sugiyama, a member of the Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences, writes a blog for the Huffington Post.  Check out her most recent post and the archives of others here.

Her research examines the role that storytelling played in human evolution by looking at the knowledge it takes to make a living as a hunter-gather and the use of stories to transmit this knowledge. Her courses look at how universal characters and genres — e.g., tricksters, monsters, heroes, love stories, war narratives —address recurrent problems of human life.

Marcela Mendoza, another member of the Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences, is part of an interdisciplinary research team from the United States and Argentina that is interested in understanding the ways in which public perspectives of race, ethnicity, and national belonging may be affected by recent trends in genetic ancestry research in Argentina.  Check out the link to the research team here.

Given the current social and political context, they are curious to know what it means to be Argentine. In what ways do “race,” ethnicity, and national belonging have to do with the construction of “Argentineness”? Does genetic information inform or alter those constructions?

 

Decision Making Focus Group Meeting

Sean Laurent will be our speaker on Weds May 27 at noon in 401 Straub:

Some of my recent work has shown that the rules people use for when to assign blame may differ quite a bit from those used to give praise, suggesting fundamental differences in the two concepts. I am interested in why this should rationally be the case, and in finding interesting and novel ways to study the concept of praise and contrast praising with blaming. I will present some data in support of my initial arguments, and provide a (undercooked) theoretical framework for understanding blame/praise asymmetries. Most importantly, I’m looking for feedback, advice, and discussion from all of you on how to do this. As a note, this topic certainly has application to those interested in marketing as well as basic social cognition!

Please join us and feel free to bring a lunch!

War and Evolution group: Coalitional Play Fighting Among Forager Children

Where: 401 Straub
When: 2:00 PM, Friday, May 15
What:  War and Evolution focus group meeting
Presenters: Marcela Mendoza and Michelle Scalise Sugiyama

Please come join us for a presentation of work in progress by two of our focus group members.  All are welcome!

War Games: Coalitional Play Fighting Among Forager Children

A large part of an organism’s development involves the assembly of adaptations.  As Tooby and Cosmides argue, “All mature adaptations depend upon the prior existence of adaptations designed to build them” (2001:15).  Thus, many cognitive adaptations are expected to have two modes, a functional mode and an organizational mode.  In the functional mode, the adaptation performs its evolved function; in the organizational mode, the adaptation is assembled.  During the assembly phase, the adaptation is provided with information and weightings that it needs to perform its function.  Some of this information may be reliably available in the external world, and the organizational mode of the adaptation may be designed to use this information rather than storing it in the genome.  Thus, the organizational mode is expected to have a motivational component that guides the organism to interact with its environment in ways that further the development of the adaptation.  We experience the effects of these motivational mechanisms, in part, as aesthetic responses, such as beauty, pleasure, fun, and excitement.  On this view, much of what is characterized as play behavior may be generated by adaptations operating in their organizational mode.  Each module of the human mind (e.g., language, vision, social intelligence, predator avoidance, sexuality) poses a different set of developmental problems.  Thus, each should come with its own aesthetic, designed to motivate the individual to engage in experiences (e.g., babbling, play chasing) that develop and/or calibrate the module.  We apply this hypothesis to coalitional play fighting (i.e., war play).  Specifically, we conceptualize war play as the operation of the module for coalitional intergroup aggression in its organizational mode.  To this end, we (1) delineate assessments that are specific to coalitional intergroup aggression, (2) describe war play (as documented in the ethnographic record) and the rules of engagement; and (3) discuss ways in which such play might provide information and weightings critical to readying the module for operation.

Argentine Photographer, Loruhama Teruya Rossi Photo Exhibit

The Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences will be displaying an exhibit by Argentine photographer Loruhama Teruya Rossi March 25-30, 2015. Easels with the photos will be placed along the ICDS entrance hallway on the fourth floor (L410).  Please feel free to stop by and admire her work at any time during this time.

These photos are part of a larger project called LUJANSYLVANIA.  Lujan is a place in Argentina well known for its Basilica, pilgrimages of the faithful, and tourism. In this provocative exhibit, the photographer – with an aesthetic reference to Bram Stoker’s Transylvania – combines everyday scenes of the city of Lujan with an atmosphere of medieval mystery, inviting a reflection on stereotypes broken, and revealing parallel realities that are there to be deciphered.

If you are curious, below is a link to some of the images (we don’t know which ones she is going to bring).

http://youtu.be/EKUAposNE5s

 

Public Lecture with Nina Strohminger on March 3, 2015

Nina Strohminger, Postdoctoral Associate at Duke University, will be giving a public lecture on “The Essential Moral Self” at , in the Collier House Classroom (1170 East 13th Avenue) on the University of Oregon campus.12:00-1:30pm on Tuesday March 3, 2015.

Strohminger1-1re30on

Abstract from the presenter: “Ever since Locke, it has been postulated that personal identity is judged on the basis of mental features. However, the possibility that certain parts of the mind are especially central to identity has not been systematically investigated. In this talk, I lay out the evidence that our sense of identity—both in ourselves and in others—arises primarily from the continuity of moral traits. This pattern emerges repeatedly across a variety of domains, from brain damage and drug use to folk beliefs about reincarnation and the soul. Data from children and Eastern populations indicates that this privileging of moral character emerges early and is cross-culturally robust. Furthermore, identity change mediates real-world outcomes such as the robustness of personal relationships. Potential explanations for this phenomenon, along with implications for the field, are discussed.”

 

This public lecture is sponsored by the Scientific Study of Values Research Interest Group, the Institute of Cognitive and Decision Sciences, and the Philosophy Department.

Event Poster

For more information, contact Mark Alfano or Azim Shariff.