Mind, Technology, and Society Talk Series

Joshua Knobe
Professor, Yale University

Time/Date: 3-4:30 p.m. Monday, February 2nd, 2015

Location: Chancellor’s Conference Room, KL 232

Title: “The Essence of Psychological Essentialism”


People appear to understand the social world in terms of essences. This notion plays a key role in the way that people ordinarily think about social categories (essences of gender categories, essences of religious categories) and also in the way that people think about individuals (the essence of you, the person you truly are deep down inside). But how exactly do people ascribe these essences? I will present a series of new studies suggesting that people’s ordinary understanding of essence is infused in surprising ways with value judgments.

Bio (taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joshua_Knobe):

Joshua Knobe is an experimental philosopher, whose work ranges across issues in philosophy of mind and action and ethics. He is an associate professor in the Program in Cognitive Science and Department of Philosophy at Yale University. He was previously Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Knobe received his B.A. at Stanford University in 1996 and his Ph.D. from Princeton in 2006, where he studied under Gilbert Harman, among others. His work has been discussed in various media, including The New York Times and Slate, and he is a fairly frequent guest on the online news, science, and current events channel bloggingheads.tv…Knobe is arguably most widely known for what has come to be called “the Knobe effect” or the “Side-Effect Effect”. See this video for moret: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHoyMfHudaE .