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January 2021

Quayshawn Spencer – A metaphysical mapping problem for race theorists and human population geneticists

A metaphysical mapping problem for race theorists and human population geneticists Quayshawn Spencer Robert S. Blank Presidential Associate Professor of Philosophy and Race, Science, & Society Working Group, University of Pennsylvania In this talk, I identify and clarify a metaphysical mapping phenomenon that’s almost twenty years old. The phenomenon is that the populations at a fivefold subdivision of humans into biological populations—the so-called human continental populations—correspond one-to-one with the five official races of the Office of Management and Budget in…

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January 25 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

February 2021

Michael Tomasello – Becoming human: A theory of ontogeny

Becoming human: A theory of ontogeny Michael Tomasello Duke University and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology Humans are biologically adapted for cultural life in ways that other primates are not. Humans have unique motivations and cognitive skills for sharing emotions, experience, and collaborative actions (shared intentionality). These motivations and skills first emerge in human ontogeny at around one year of age, as infants begin to participate with other persons in various kinds of collaborative and joint attentional activities,…

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February 1 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Dorsa Amir – The development of decision-making across diverse cultural contexts

The development of decision-making across diverse cultural contexts Dorsa Amir Boston College Department of Psychology The human behavioral repertoire is uniquely diverse, with an unmatched flexibility that has allowed our species to flourish in every ecology on the planet. Despite its importance, the roots of this behavioral diversity — and how it manifests across development and contexts — remain largely unexplored. I argue that a full account of human behavior requires a cross-cultural, developmental approach that systematically examines how environmental…

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February 8 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Paul Smaldino – The evolution of covert signaling in diverse societies

The evolution of covert signaling in diverse societies Paul Smaldino Department of Cognitive and Information Sciences, University of California, Merced Identity signals are common components of communication transmissions that inform receivers of the signaler’s membership (or non-membership) in a subset of individuals. Signals can be overt, broadcast to all possible receivers, or covert, encrypted so that only similar receivers are likely to perceive their identity-relevant meaning. I'll present an instrumental theory of identity signaling as a mechanism for social assortment,…

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February 22 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

March 2021

Manvir Singh – The nature and origins of religious super-attractors

The nature and origins of religious super-attractors Manvir Singh Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse Human societies reliably develop “cultural super-attractors”, or complex practices and beliefs that exhibit striking similarities. In this talk, I will present research on the nature and origins of three religious super-attractors: shamanism, religious self-denial, and beliefs in supernatural punishment. These cultural practices appeared in the vast majority of human societies, predated doctrinal religions, and persist even when doctrinal religious authorities try to…

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March 1 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
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