Helen De Cruz

I am a British Academy postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford, affiliated to the Faculty of Philosophy and Somerville College.

My areas of specialization are empirically-informed philosophy of mind/cognitive science and philosophy of religion. My research is strongly rooted in the sciences, in particular cognitive and developmental psychology and cognitive archeology. I examine how human beings, who are embodied and socially embedded, can acquire beliefs about subjects that fall outside of everyday, physical interactions, such as in mathematics, science and religion. How do we come up with concepts like 2 or natural selection? Why do people across cultures believe in supernatural beings like gods and ghosts? By an examination of the cognitive factors involved in forming such reflective beliefs, I draw implications for their rationality.

My research is motivated by an apparent paradox about human reasoning. Cognitive psychological research indicates that human cognition is biased and prone to fallacies. In spite of this, humans have been able to achieve remarkable progress in diverse areas, such as mathematics and the sciences. To explain this success, philosophers of cognitive science and epistemologists have focused on the interaction between individual reasoning processes (e.g. intuitions, biases) and social processes (e.g. storage of information, interaction between minds). I aim to integrate these fields by researching how individual reasoning processes and social processes interact. My philosophical work relies on conceptual tools that have been recently developed in social epistemology and in the philosophy of cognitive science (e.g. the extended mind thesis, scaffolded cognition).

On this webpage, you can download papers, find my contact details, my CV, information about my education and training, past and current research projects, resources on teaching, and some information on blogging, the Renaissance lute and other activities.

You can also find information about me on the following websites: