What is Cognitive Science

Generics, Quantified Generalisations and Social Prejudice

Dr. Rachel Sterken

Thursday, October 06, 2016, 12:00pm - 01:00pm

University of Oslo, Department of Philosophy

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Research by psychologists and philosophers connects generics to social prejudice and negative social stereotyping [see, e.g., Leslie (2014, forthcoming), Haslanger (2007, 2011), Rhodes et al. (2012), Waxman (2010), Langton (2015), Jeshion (2013), Geurts (1985)]. The empirical aspects of this work connect exposure to generic language, involving social kind terms, to the formation of essentialist beliefs involving those kinds [Rhodes et al. (2012)], whose possession have been linked to certain forms of prejudice. Many theorists take generics to be distinctive in regards to their prejudice generating powers. However, their connection to the formation of essentialist beliefs cannot be the whole story. In ongoing collaborative work with E. Hoicka and J. Saul, we demonstrate that hearing explicitly quantified language also leads to the development of essentialist beliefs. The distinctive capacity of generics in generating prejudice, I suggest, is rather a result of semantic, communicative and interactional features that generics possess, but explicitly quantified sentences lack.

Dr. Rachel Sterken


"What is Cognitive Science?"

This lunchtime talks series is designed to introduce the University community to issues in Cognitive Science. Cognitive Science is one the the few fields where modern developments in computer science and artificial intelligence promise to shed light on classical problems in psychology and the philosophy of the mind. Ancient questions of how we see the world, understand language, and reason, and questions such as 'how a material system can know about the outside world', are being explored with the powerful new conceptual prosthetics of computer modeling.

The talks in this lunchtime lecture series are every Thursday during the Fall semester from ** 12:00-1:00 ** in the Psychology Building, Room 101 on  Busch Campus.

Note: Talks are also announced by email (with reminders sent the day of the talk) to people who have requested to be placed on our announce list. If you would like to be added to our announce list, please email the Business Office (business_manager@ruccs.rutgers.edu).