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Keywords:

  • Anthropology;
  • Philosophy;
  • Human universals;
  • Cross-cultural research;
  • Evolutionary psychology;
  • Gene–culture coevolution

Abstract

Beller, Bender, and Medin argue that a reconciliation between anthropology and cognitive science seems unlikely. We disagree. In our view, Beller et al.’s view of the scope of what anthropology can offer cognitive science is too narrow. In focusing on anthropology’s role in elucidating cultural particulars, they downplay the fact that anthropology can reveal both variation and universals in human cognition, and is in a unique position to do so relative to the other subfields of cognitive science. Indeed, without cross-cultural research, the universality of any aspect of human cognition cannot truly be established. Therefore, if the goal of cognitive science is to understand the cognitive capacities of our species as a whole, then it cannot do without anthropology. We briefly review a growing body of anthropological work aimed at answering questions about human cognition and offer suggestions for future work.