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Department of

History and Philosophy of Science   


Edouard Machery

Associate Professor of History and Philosophy of Science
PhD, 2004, Université de Paris-Sorbonne.
Resident Fellow of the Center for Philosophy of Science
Member of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition

My research centers on the theoretical issues that are raised by psychology and cognitive science. I focus particularly on the following themes:

Concepts: The class of concepts divides into several kinds of data structures that are very different from each other. The notion of concept is at best useless to study the mind. This theme and many others are developed in detail in my book Doing without Concepts (2009, Oxford University Press). 

Evolution, Culture and Cognition: Cognition is the product of evolution. Nonetheless, cognition does not boil down to a toolkit of domain-specific, canalized systems. We have evolved to acquire a substantial part of our psychological endowment by cultural transmission. I have a strong interest in the interactions between evolved cognition and culture in the moral and social domains. I have for instance been working on the nature and origins of racial categorization.

Experimental philosophy: in many areas, e.g., moral philosophy, semantics etc., philosophical arguments rest often on untested empirical assumptions. Testing these empirical assumptions may ground far-reaching conclusions (see at the bottom of this page).

Philosophy: Philosophy without science is blind. Criticizing confused notions, assumptions and controversies within philosophy and within science is one of the decent functions of philosophy.

For a complete description of my education, the complete list of publications, etc., see my CV.


Media coverage of my work

My work on semantic intuitions has been described in the Süddeutsche Zeitung (July 2009).

I have been interviewed on the Australian National Radio ABC by Natasha Mitchell in her program All in the Mind. Listen to the interview about intentional action here and read the listeners reaction on Natasha Mitchell's blog (February 2009).

My work on semantic intuitions has been written up in the Chronicle of Higher Education (October 2008).

I have been profiled in the June issue of the Corriere della Sera Style Magazine (2008).

Anthony Appiah has written up my contribution to experimental philosophy in the New York Times Magazine (12/09/2007). Read the article here.



Doing without Concepts is now out. Order it on the OUP website, Barnes & Noble or Amazon.

The American Psychological Association's Psychological Science Agenda has published a short opinion piece about the use of evolutionary theory in the behavioral sciences in honor of Darwin's birthday.

Watch my lecture "Did morality really evolve?" in the Brain, Evolution, and Cognition series at UCLA here. The Q&A discussion is there.

An author-meets-critics symposium on my book Doing without Concepts (OUP 2009) took place at the annual meeting of the Canadian Philosophical Association (Ottawa, May 25-28, 2009). Diana Raffman (Toronto), Stevan Harnad (UQAM), and Chris Hill (Brown) commented on my book.

Dialogue will publish a symposium on Doing wihtout Concepts with comments by Tania Lombrozo (Berkeley, psychology), Gualtiero Piccinini (UMSL, philosophy), Markus Werning (Düsseldorf, philosophy), and Luc Faucher (UQAM, philosophy).

The Center for Philosophy of Science has organized a symposium for the release of my book Doing without Concepts (OUP 2009), March 5, 2009 with Barbara Malt (psychology, Lehigh) and Jesse Prinz (philosophy, CUNY). Information here.



Contact Information

Permanent Address

University of Pittsburgh
Department of History and Philosophy of Science
1017 CL
Pittsburgh 15260

Tel: + (1) 412 624 5883

Fax: + (1) 412 624 6825





Machery, E. 2009. Doing Without Concepts, New York : Oxford University Press. (Order it on Barnes & Noble or on Amazon)

Werning, M., Machery, E., & Schurz, G. (Eds.) 2005. The Compositionality of Meaning and Content: Foundational Issues. Ontos.

Machery, E., Werning, M., & Schurz, G. (Eds.) 2005. The Compositionality of Meaning and Content: Applications to Linguistics, Psychology and Neuroscience. Ontos.

Werning, M., Hinzen, W., & Machery, E. under contract, The Oxford Handbook of Compositionality. Oxford University Press.


Selected Articles

Some replies to my work,


Against Hybrid Theories of Concepts, with Selja Seppälä.

The Concept of Intentional Action in Asperger Syndrome, with T. Zalla.



Sytsma, J., and Machery, E. Two Conceptions of Subjective Experience. Philosophical Studies.

Machery, E. Why I Stopped Worrying about the Definition of Life... And why you Should as Well. Synthese.

Machery, E., Faucher, L., and Kelly, D. On the Alleged Inadequacy of Psychological Explanations of Racism. The Monist.

Machery, E., Olivola, C., and de Blanc, M. Linguistic and Metalinguistic Intuitions in the Philosophy of Language. Analysis.

Machery, E., and Lederer, L. Simple Heuristics for Concept Combination. In M. Werning, W. Hinzen, and E. Machery (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Compositionality.

Machery, E. Do we Talk to be Relevant? Biology & Philosophy.

Griffiths, P., Machery, E., Linquist, S. The Vernacular Concept of Innateness. Mind & Language.

Machery, E. The Bleak Implications of Moral Psychology. Neuroethics.

Mallon, R., Machery, E., Nichols, S., & Stich, S. Against Arguments from Reference. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research.

Machery, E. Developmental Disorders and Cognitive Architecture. In A. De Block and P. Adriaens (Eds.), Darwin and Psychiatry: Philosophical Perspectives. OUP.

Machery, E. Philosophy of Psychology. In F. Allhoff (Ed.), Philosophy of the Special Sciences. SUNY Press.

Fessler, D., & Machery, E. Culture and Cognition. In E. Margolis, R. Samuels and S. Stich (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press.

Machery, E., and Mallon, R. The Evolution of Morality. In J. Doris et al. (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Moral Psychology. Oxford University Press.

Kelly, D., Machery, E., & Mallon, R. Racial Cognition and Normative Theory. In J. Doris et al. (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Moral Psychology. Oxford University Press.

Machery, E. Discovery and Confirmation in Evolutionary Psychology. In J. Prinz (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Psychology. Oxford University Press.



Sytsma. J., & Machery, E. 2009. How to study Folk Intuitions about Phenomenal Consciousness. Philosophical Psychology, 22, 21-35.

Faucher, L., & Machery, E. 2009. Racism: Against Jorge Garcia's Moral and Psychological Monism. Philosophy of the Social Sciences. 39, 41-62.



Machery, E. 2008. Modularity and the Flexibility of Human Cognition. Mind & Language, 23, 263-272.

Machery, E. 2008. The Folk Concept of Intentional Action: Philosophical and Experimental Issues . Mind & Language, 23, 165-189.  

Katsikopoulos, K., Pachur, T., Machery, E., & Wallin, A. 2008. From Meehl (1954) to Fast and Frugal Heuristics (And Back): New Insights into How to Bridge the Clinical-Actuarial Divide. Theory & Psychology, 18, 443-464.

Machery, E. 2008. A Plea for Human Nature. Philosophical Psychology, 21, 321-330.

  • Translated and reprinted in T. Heams, P. Huneman, G. Lecointre, and M. Silberstein. 2009. Les mondes Darwiniens. Paris: Syllepse.

Griffiths, P. E., & Machery, E. 2008. Innateness, Canalization, and ‘Biologicizing the Mind’. Philosophical Psychology, 21, 397-414.



Machery, E. 2007. Concept Empiricism: A Methodological Critique. Cognition, 104, 19-46.

Machery, E. Massive Modularity and Brain Evolution. Philosophy of Science, 74, 825-838.

Livengood, J., & Machery, E. 2007. The Folk Probably Don’t Think What You Think They Think: Experiments on Causation by Absence. Midwest Studies in Philosophy, 31, 107-127.

Machery, E. 2007. 100 Years of Psychology of Concepts: The Theoretical Notion of Concept and Its Operationalization. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, 38, 63-84.

Machery, E. 2007. Review of Robert J. Stainton, Words and Thoughts: Subsentences, Ellipsis, and the Philosophy of Language. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.



Machery, E. 2006. How to Split Concepts. Reply to Piccinini and Scott. Philosophy of Science, 73, 410-418.

Machery, E., & Barrett, C. 2006. Debunking Adapting Minds. Philosophy of Science, 73, 232-246.

Machery, E. 2006. Two Dogmas of Neo-Empiricism. Philosophy Compass, 1, 4, 398-412.

Machery, E. 2006. Review of A. Zilhao, ed., Evolution, Rationality and Cognition. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Kelly, D., Machery, E., Mallon, R., Mason, K., & Stich, S. P. 2006, The Role of Psychology in the Study of Culture. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 29, 4, 355.



Machery, E. 2005. Concepts are Not a Natural Kind. Philosophy of Science, 72, 444-467.

Machery, E. 2005. You don’t Know How you Think: Introspection and Language of Thought. The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 56, 469-485.

Machery, E., & Faucher, L. 2005. Social Construction and the Concept of Race. Philosophy of Science, 72, 1208-1219.

Machery, E., & Faucher, L. 2005. Why do we Think Racially?. In H. Cohen and C. Lefebvre (eds.), Handbook of Categorization in Cognitive Science, Elsevier (pp. 1009-1033).

Machery, E., Kelly, D., & Stich, S. P. 2005. Moral Realism and Cross-Cultural Normative Diversity, Comment on Henrich et al., Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 28, 6, 830.

Machery, E. 2005. Review of R. Boyd and P. Richerson, The Origin and Evolution of Cultures. Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.



Machery, E., Mallon, R., Nichols, S., & Stich, S. P. 2004. Semantics, Cross-cultural Style. Cognition, 92, 3, B1-B12.

NB:  Please, quote only the published versions of these articles.



Works in Preparation

Trusting and Punishing Artifacts, with Lévan Sardjevéladzé, under revision.

An Empirical Study of Evolutionary Psychology, with Kara Cohen.

Hypothesis Testing: Reports of its Death have been Greatly Exaggerated.


Conference Organizations

Reduction and Emergence, Second meeting of the IHPST (Paris)/HPS-Center for Philosophy of Science (Pittsburgh) Workshop Series, Pittsburgh, December 11-12, 2009.

Adaptations in Psychology and in Biology, First meeting of the IHPST (Paris)/HPS-Center for Philosophy of Science (Pittsburgh) Workshop Series, Paris, June 4-5, 2008.

Bi-annual meeting of the Moral Psychology Research Group, Pittsburgh, Center for Philosophy of Science, November 17-18, 2007.

Member of the program committee for the annual congress of the Human Behavior & Evolution Society (HBES 2004), Berlin, July, 21-25, 2004

NAC 2004: New Aspects of Compositionality, Paris, June, 18-20, 2004, coorganized with Pr. M. Werning (financial support: the RESCIF, the Ecole Normale Superieure, Department of Cognitive Studies, the University of Paris-Sorbonne, and the Institut Jean-Nicod)

CoCoCo: Compositionality, Concepts, and Cognition, Düsseldorf, February, 28-March, 3, 2004, coorganized with Pr. M. Werning and Pr. G. Schurz (financial support: the Thyssen Foundation and the University Heinrich-Heine of Düsseldorf)



Forthcoming &
Recent Talks


TBA, UQAM, Montréal, February 26, 2010.

Les Implications Troublantes de la Psychologie Morale, Paris, February 12, 2010.

Three Neuroscientific Arguments against the Massive Modularity Hypothesis, University of Waterloo, December 4, 2009.

Can we Hold People Responsible for their Implicit Biases against Women and Minorities? Women's Studies Brown Bag, University of Pittsburgh, November 17, 2009.

TBA, Rutgers, November 5, 2009.

Three Neuroscientific Arguments against the Massive Modularity Hypothesis, Carnegie Mellon University, October 1, 2009.

Three Neuroscientific Arguments against the Massive Modularity Hypothesis, Mexico City, August 12-14, 2009.

Diversity in Semantic Intuitions, NEH Summer Institute on Experimental Philosophy, June 24, 2009.

Introduction to Statistics, NEH Summer Institute on Experimental Philosophy, June 23, 2009.

Multi-Kulti Semantics, Society for Philosophy and Psychology, Bloomington, June 12-14, 2009.

Did Morality Really Evolve, June 4, 2009, Caltech.

Reply to my critics, symposium on Doing without Concepts, Canadian Philosophical Association, Ottawa, May 26-28, 2009.

Did Morality Really Evolve?, Irvine, May 15, 2009.

Experimental Semantics (or What would Kripke Have Said if he were Asian?), Las Vegas, May 1, 2009.

Did Morality Really Evolve?, Brain, evolution, and culture, UCLA, April 19, 2008.

Experimental Semantics (or What would Kripke Have Said if he were Asian?), Berkeley, March 18, 2009.

Reply to Barbara Malt and Jesse Prinz, symposium on Doing without Concepts, Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, March 6, 2009.

Experimental Semantics, Riverside, February 11, 2009

Theory Testing in Psychology, Eastern APA, December 26, 2008.



Experimental Philosophy


Shaun Nichols and Ron Mallon have organized a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Institute for College and University teachers with Steve Stich, Paul Griffiths, John Doris, Joshua Knobe, myself and others as Visting Faculty (June 22-July 17, 2009). Information here and see here for the complete list of visiting faculty.

Edouard Machery, Joshua Knobe, and Tania Lombrozo are editing two special issues of The European Review of Philosophy dedicated to experimental philosophy. Call for Paper here.


Introduction to experimental philosophy

Experimental Philosophy blog

Experimental philosophy on Myspace

Experimental philosophy on Facebook

Experimental Philosophy surveys (Bryony Pierce): here.


Where I (Rarely) Blog

Experimental Philosophy

Psychology Today (Experiments in Philosophy)

Brains, On Mind and Related Matter  

It is only a theory





People I have been working with, places, links…



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