philosophical science lab

more science, less fiction

Methods

Philosophy asks important questions, but it doesn't have a distinctive methodology for answering them. In the Philosophical Science Lab, we use scientific methods to make progress on philosophical questions, new and old.

randomization

Behavioral experiments

stopwatch

Reaction times

yin yang

Cultural comparison

data

Data science

magnifying glass

Social observation

venn diagram

Formal logic

Results

Our work addresses philosophical questions while contributing to the scientific understanding of cognition and communication. Here are some examples.

angel wings

Excuse Validation

two-in-one

The Bi-Location Effect

liar

The Untruth Effect

disabled donut

Ought Exceeds Can

2x2 interaction

The Source-Content Bias

meditation

Exceptionalist Naturalism

People

Lab director

John Turri
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John Turri

John is the Canada Research Chair in Philosophy and Cognitive Science at the University of Waterloo.

Current students

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Haider Riaz

MA student

Haider is studying the concept of property ownership by synthesizing evidence from neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, and philosophy, and through new behavioral experiments. This is a collaboration of the Philosophical Science Lab and the Child Cognition Lab.

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YeounJun Park

MA student

YeounJun is studying the nature of concepts by synthesizing evidence from neuroscience, psychology, anthropology, and philosophy, and through new behavioral experiments.

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Aubrieann Schettler

MA student

Aubrie is conducting virtual reality experiments to study how sensorimotor function contributes to the human sense of self. This is a collaboration between the Philosophical Science Lab and the Multisensory Brain and Cognition Lab.

Lab alumni

Dylon McChesney
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Dylon McChesney

MA

During his time in the lab, Dylon conducted research on the moral responsibilities of institutions.

Darlene Drecun
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Darlene Drecun

MA

During her time in the lab, Darlene conducted research on the moral responsibilities of institutions.

Peter Blouw
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Peter Blouw

PhD

Peter earned his PhD in Philosophy and Theoretical Neuroscience from the University of Waterloo. During his studies, he published research on knowledge, rules, and concepts.

Wesley Buckwalter
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Wesley Buckwalter

Postdoctoral researcher

After earning his PhD in philosophy from the City University of New York, Wesley held a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Waterloo. During his time here, he published research on a wide range of issues in philosophy and cognitive science.

Sara Weaver
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Sara Weaver

PhD

Sara earned her PhD in Philosophy from the University of Waterloo. During her studies, she published research on personal identity and character traits.

Janet Michaud
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Janet Michaud

MA

Janet earned her MA in Philosophy from the University of Waterloo. During her time in the lab, she conducted research on perceptions of credibility and trust in science.

Ashley Keefner
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Ashley Keefner

PhD

Ashley earned her PhD in Philosophy and Cognitive Science from the University of Waterloo. During her studies, she published research on mindreading in humans and birds. Some of this research involved collaboration between the Philosophical Science Lab and the Child Cognition Lab.

Collaborators

David Rose
D
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David Rose

website
Philosopher
Washington University in St. Louis
J. Charles Millar
C
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J. Charles Millar

website
Psychologist
Heather Douglas
H
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Heather Douglas

website
Philosopher
Michigan State University
Ian Holstead
I
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Ian Holstead

website
Computer Engineer
University of Waterloo
Ori Friedman
O
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Ori Friedman

website
Psychologist
University of Waterloo
Laurie Santos
L
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Laurie Santos

website
Psychologist
Yale University
Jonathan Phillips
J
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Jonathan Phillips

website
Cognitive Scientist
Harvard University
Joshua Knobe
J
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Joshua Knobe

website
Cognitive Scientist
Yale University
Alia Martin
A
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Alia Martin

website
Psychologist
Victoria University of Wellington
Angelo Turri
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Angelo Turri

website
Mathematician
Independent scholar
Michael Barnett-Cowan
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Michael Barnett-Cowan

website
Neuroscientist
University of Waterloo
Fiery Cushman
F
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Fiery Cushman

website
Psychologist
Harvard University
Mathieu Doucet
M
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Mathieu Doucet

website
Philosopher
University of Waterloo

Publications

Books

Knowledge and the Norm of Assertion
A Companion to Experimental Philosophy

Papers

the hulk

Experimental Epistemology and "Gettier" Cases

“Philosophy” is ancient Greek for “love of an embarrassing and unproductive mess.” No, wait …

read it
baboons with baby

The Core Primate Knowledge Concept

The concept of knowledge is an ancient part of our primate heritage.

read it
walt and jesse

Moderate Scientism in Philosophy

Yo, science! Philosophy needs your help. Badly.

read it
a pair of figures

Virtue Epistemology and Abilism on Knowledge

One of these theories is demonstrably better, and it doesn’t begin with “V”.

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storm trooper

The Non-factive Turn

You’re going the wrong way.

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bi-location

Personal Identity and Persisting as Many

Two places. One time. No Problem.

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inside out

It's What's on the Inside That Counts?

Some initial evidence that the ordinary concept of modesty might be primarily behavioral.

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inigo and vizzini

Epistemic Modals and Alternative Possibilities

Some words do not mean what philosophers think they mean.

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life preserver

How "Ought" Exceeds but Implies "Can"

The “ought implies can” principle is false but reflects something true about moral language.

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two angels

Choosing and Refusing

It is conceptually possible to form beliefs at will.

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korean child

Knowledge and Assertion in Korean

Knowledge is a central norm of assertion in Korean too.

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monk

Exceptionalist Naturalism

Commonsense views humans as exceptional parts of the natural world, capable of resisting deterministic laws.

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stop start sign

Compatibilism Can Be Natural

The best evidence to date for compatibilism in commonsense morality.

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motivated angel

In the Thick of Moral Motivation

Multiple ordinary concepts of belief relate differently to moral motivation.

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sleeping dog

Epistemic Contextualism

That dog won’t hunt.

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a spider

Knowledge Attributions and Behavioral Predictions

When we predict what people will do, what they know matters more than what they think.

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pinocchio

Lying, Uptake, Assertion, and Intent

Sometimes we judge that someone lied without judging that they intended to deceive.

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charles darwin statue

Actionability Judgments Cause Knowledge Judgments

Judgments about how someone should act cause judgments about what they know.

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uncle sam pointing at you

The Point of Assertion is to Transmit Knowledge

This experiment supports the hypothesis that transmitting knowledge is the point of assertion.

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box broken into pieces

Gettier Cases: A Taxonomy

Philosophers broke it. We fixed it.

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handicap parking

Epistemic Situationism and Cognitive Ability

Enabling the unreliable masses to transcend their lack of virtue.

read it
turn

Completing the Pragmatic Turn in Epistemology

Studies show that Locke was right, Descartes was wrong.

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explosion

Knowledge Central

Judgments about what people know feature centrally in how we evaluate them.

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referee

Sustaining Rules

A theory of rules for managing belief.

read it
tools

Compatibilism and Incompatibilism in Social Cognition

Scientists observe hybridization of compatibilism and incompatibilism in commonsense morality.

read it
snowflake

The Distinctive "Should" of Assertability

They said truth didn’t matter. It turns out they shouldn’t have.

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a barn that you know is a barn

Knowledge Attributions in Iterated Fake Barn Cases

Proving philosophers wrong, one barn at a time.

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sheep bleating

Experimental Work on the Norms of Assertion

A condensed review of the definitive case that knowledge is a central norm of assertion.

read it
henna hands

Experimental, Cross-cultural, and Classical Indian Epistemology

Surprising similarities between contemporary commonsense and ancient Indian philosophy.

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unequal

Intuition Fail

If philosophical expertise existed, it would look something like this.

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the king is down

A New Paradigm for Epistemology

There's a new king in town.

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raven

Corvid Theory of Mind

It knows you know.

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recycling program

Knowledge Judgments in “Gettier” Cases

Philosophers make a mess. Science cleans it up. You're welcome.

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monkey whispers

Knowledge, Certainty, and Assertion

Assertion is more closely linked to knowledge than it is to certainty.

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broken chair

Perceptions of Philosophical Inquiry

In case you were wondering what philosophers think about philosophy.

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dr. house doesn't care

Knowledge and Assertion in “Gettier” Cases

You get bonus points if you act like you care.

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lonely chair

Perceived Weaknesses of Philosophical Inquiry

Philosophy’s self-inflicted public relations problem: a report from the field.

read it
marmot lookouts

Vision, Knowledge and Assertion

Even in a highly misleading environment, perception provides knowledge.

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office worker

How to Do Better

Can someone please send philosophers another copy of this memo?

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roots

The Radicalism of Truth-Insensitive Epistemology

Don't believe the hype: you should believe the truth.

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big brain

Neuroscientific Prediction and Intuitive Metaphysics

You won’t believe what they tell you.

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correction tape

Knowledge, Stakes, and Mistakes

Some folks’ salient interests are known to be at stake.

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wheelchair at ocean

Inability and Obligation in Moral Judgment

Morality doesn’t care. Get over it.

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good duck/bad duck

The Problem of ESEE Knowledge

Don’t worry, it’s all good.

read it
on the yellow brick road

Assertion and Assurance

Assertion, assurance, and speech. Oh my.

read it
FDR in wheelchair

From Virtue Epistemology to Abilism

I blazed the trail, so you don’t have to.

read it
a standing rule

Excuse Validation

How to break a rule without “breaking” it.

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closed door in the open

An Open and Shut Case

Dear Closure Principle, don’t hit the door on your way out.

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morpheus from the matrix

Skeptical Appeal

Psychological roots of skeptical doubt.

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giraffes

Knowledge and Assertion: A Simple Test

Knowing increases assertability by 35000%.

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sleeping newborn

Unreliable Knowledge

Unreliably produced knowledge is so possible that it happens all the time.

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believing angel

Belief Through Thick and Thin

Multiple ordinary concepts of belief relate differently to knowledge.

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selfless ape

Selfless Assertions

Sometimes when your examples are confusing, people fix it for you.

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dice

Is Probabilistic Evidence a Source of Knowledge?

How some different forms of probability affect knowledge attributions.

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lucky pigs

Knowledge and Luck

How some different forms of luck affect knowledge attributions.

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figure standing on a cracker

Understanding and Explanation

Observational evidence that explanations should express understanding.

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judge's gavel

Factive Norms of Belief and Decision

The best evidence yet of factive norms of belief and decision-making.

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pinocchio in profile

The Truth About Lying

Evidence that saying something false is essential to lying.

read it
projection

Factive Verbs and Protagonist Projection

Just imagine what it’s like reading this paper.

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really fictitious

Does the Paradox of Fiction Exist?

The philosophy of fiction encounters an unpleasant reality.

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barn

Fake-Barn Thought Experiments

Real barns observed; fake claims exposed.

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jillian michaels pointing at you

The Folk Epistemology of Lotteries

What, you didn’t know? You’re such a loser.

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wolf howling

Reid on Natural Language

A natural basis for artificial language.

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marshmallows

Non-psychological Weakness of Will

Based on new findings, we propose a new model of weakness of will as a failure of self-control.

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sword fight

When Words Speak Louder than Actions

“You’re not my father!” Hmm.

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trolley with bleach

For the Greater Goods?

Should you sacrifice one rug to save the many? Step aboard to find out.

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gollum

Telling, Showing and Knowing

One thing to rule them all, and in our knowledge bind them.

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R2-D2

Function and Feeling Machines

How it seems things seem to machines.

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good versus bad

Gettier Made ESEE

Would you rather be lucky or bad? Maybe both.

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happy philosopher

A Conspicuous Art

Philosophers love this finding.

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judge's gavel

The Test of Truth

Wherein the truth (should) be told.

read it

Presentations

Knowledge and Assertion in Korean

Moral Responsibility and Implicit Social Cognition

Implicit Bias and Moral Judgment

Epistemic Injustice in Social Cognition

Moral Responsibility and Implicit Social Cognition

Lying, Fast and Slow

Epistemic Closure in Folk Epistemology

Epistemic Closure in Folk Epistemology

Epistemic Injustice in Social Cognition

Knowledge and the Norm of Assertion

Subsistence Rights and Intuitions about Institutional Obligation

Doxastic Voluntarism and Folk Psychology

Modesty Is Not a Virtue

Exceptionalist Naturalism

Judgments of Coercion in Mr. Big Cases

Compatibilism and Incompatibilism in Social Cognition

Neuroscientific Prediction and the Intrusion of Intrusive Metaphysics

Inability and Obligation in Moral Judgment

Inability and Obligation in Moral Judgment

Three Factors that Affect the Credibility of Scientific Research

Modesty Is Not a Virtue

Comparative Epistemology

Modesty Is Not a Virtue

Values in Science Communication

Knowledge and the Norm of Assertion

Inside and Outside, Present and Absent

The Connection Between Knowledge and Action

Doxastic Voluntarism and Folk Psychology

Inductive Risk and Data on Values in Science

Judgments of Coercion in Mr. Big Cases

Personal Identity and Persisting as Many

Inability and Obligation in Moral Judgment

A New Paradigm for Epistemology

Knowledge and Luck

When Words Speak Louder than Actions

When Words Speak Louder than Actions

Ownership Rights and Utilitarian Moral Judgment

Weakness of Will without Commitment Violations

Action, Truth and Knowledge

Epistemic Closure in Folk Epistemology

Knowledge and Luck

Epistemic Closure in the Manifest Image

Excuse Validation

The Folk Epistemology of Lotteries

The Test of Truth

Moral Decision Making and Interpersonal Harm

Excuse Validation

Counterfactuals and the Scope of Moral Cognition

The Test of Truth

Factive Verbs and Protagonist Projection

Abilism and Reliabilism

Knowledge and Suberogatory Assertion

Knowledge and Suberogatory Assertion

Knowledge and Suberogatory Assertion

Unreliable Knowledge

Epistemic Norms and Higher-order Knowledge

The Express Knowledge Account of Assertion

Knowledge as Achievement, More or Less