Douglas L. Medin

Douglas L. Medin is Louis W. Menk Professor of Psychology and Professor of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. He is the coauthor of The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature and coeditor of Folkbiology, both published by the MIT Press.

  • Who's Asking?

    Who's Asking?

    Native Science, Western Science, and Science Education

    Douglas L. Medin and Megan Bang

    Analysis and case studies show that including different orientations toward the natural world makes for more effective scientific practice and science education.

    The answers to scientific questions depend on who's asking, because the questions asked and the answers sought reflect the cultural values and orientations of the questioner. These values and orientations are most often those of Western science. In Who's Asking?, Douglas Medin and Megan Bang argue that despite the widely held view that science is objective, value-neutral, and acultural, scientists do not shed their cultures at the laboratory or classroom door; their practices reflect their values, belief systems, and worldviews. Medin and Bang argue further that scientist diversity—the participation of researchers and educators with different cultural orientations—provides new perspectives and leads to more effective science and better science education.

    Medin and Bang compare Native American and European American orientations toward the natural world and apply these findings to science education. The European American model, they find, sees humans as separated from nature; the Native American model sees humans as part of a natural ecosystem. Medin and Bang then report on the development of ecologically oriented and community-based science education programs on the Menominee reservation in Wisconsin and at the American Indian Center of Chicago. Medin and Bang's novel argument for scientist diversity also has important implications for questions of minority underrepresentation in science.

    • Hardcover $40.00 £30.00
  • The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature

    The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature

    Scott Atran and Douglas L. Medin

    An analysis of the cognitive consequences of diminished contact with nature examines the relationship between how people think about the natural world and how they act on it, and how these are affected by cultural differences.

    Surveys show that our growing concern over protecting the environment is accompanied by a diminishing sense of human contact with nature. Many people have little commonsense knowledge about nature—are unable, for example, to identify local plants and trees or describe how these plants and animals interact. Researchers report dwindling knowledge of nature even in smaller, nonindustrialized societies. In The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature, Scott Atran and Douglas Medin trace the cognitive consequences of this loss of knowledge. Drawing on nearly two decades of cross-cultural and developmental research, they examine the relationship between how people think about the natural world and how they act on it and how these are affected by cultural differences.

    These studies, which involve a series of targeted comparisons among cultural groups living in the same environment and engaged in the same activities, reveal critical universal aspects of mind as well as equally critical cultural differences. Atran and Medin find that, despite a base of universal processes, the cultural differences in understandings of nature are associated with significant differences in environmental decision making as well as intergroup conflict and stereotyping stemming from these differences. The book includes two intensive case studies, one focusing on agro-forestry among Maya Indians and Spanish speakers in Mexico and Guatemala and the other on resource conflict between Native-American and European-American fishermen in Wisconsin. The Native Mind and the Cultural Construction of Nature offers new perspectives on general theories of human categorization, reasoning, decision making, and cognitive development.

    • Hardcover $40.00
    • Paperback $28.00 £22.00
  • Folkbiology

    Folkbiology

    Douglas L. Medin and Scott Atran

    The term "folkbiology" refers to people's everyday understanding of the biological world—how they perceive, categorize, and reason about living kinds. The study of folkbiology not only sheds light on human nature, it may ultimately help us make the transition to a global economy without irreparably damaging the environment or destroying local cultures.

    This book takes an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together the work of researchers in anthropology, cognitive and developmental psychology, biology, and philosophy of science. The issues covered include: Are folk taxonomies a first-order approximation to classical scientific taxonomies, or are they driven more directly by utilitarian concerns? How are these category schemes linked to reasoning about natural kinds? Is there any nontrivial sense in which folk-taxonomic structures are universal? What impact does science have on folk taxonomy? Together, the chapters present the current foundations of folkbiology and indicate new directions in research.

    Contributors Scott Atran, Terry Kit-fong Au, Brent Berlin, K. David Bishop, John D. Coley, Jared Diamond, John Dupré, Roy Ellen, Susan A. Gelman, Michael T. Ghiselin, Grant Gutheil, Giyoo Hatano, Lawrence A. Hirschfeld, David L. Hull, Eugene Hunn, Kayoko Inagaki, Frank C. Keil, Daniel T. Levin, Elizabeth Lynch, Douglas L. Medin, Julia Beth Proffitt, Bethany A. Richman, Laura F. Romo, Sandra R. Waxman

    • Hardcover $112.50 £77.95
    • Paperback $45.00 £35.00

Contributor

  • The Conceptual Mind

    The Conceptual Mind

    New Directions in the Study of Concepts

    Eric Margolis and Stephen Laurence

    New essays by leading philosophers and cognitive scientists that present recent findings and theoretical developments in the study of concepts.

    The study of concepts has advanced dramatically in recent years, with exciting new findings and theoretical developments. Core concepts have been investigated in greater depth and new lines of inquiry have blossomed, with researchers from an ever broader range of disciplines making important contributions. In this volume, leading philosophers and cognitive scientists offer original essays that present the state-of-the-art in the study of concepts. These essays, all commissioned for this book, do not merely present the usual surveys and overviews; rather, they offer the latest work on concepts by a diverse group of theorists as well as discussions of the ideas that should guide research over the next decade. The book is an essential companion volume to the earlier Concepts: Core Readings, the definitive source for classic texts on the nature of concepts.

    The essays cover concepts as they relate to animal cognition, the brain, evolution, perception, and language, concepts across cultures, concept acquisition and conceptual change, concepts and normativity, concepts in context, and conceptual individuation. The contributors include such prominent scholars as Susan Carey, Nicola Clayton, Jerry Fodor, Douglas Medin, Joshua Tenenbaum, and Anna Wierzbicka.

    Contributors Aurore Avarguès-Weber, Eef Ameel, Megan Bang, H. Clark Barrett, Pascal Boyer, Elisabeth Camp, Susan Carey, Daniel Casasanto, Nicola S. Clayton, Dorothy L. Cheney, Vyvyan Evans, Jerry A. Fodor, Silvia Gennari, Tobias Gerstenberg, Martin Giurfa, Noah D. Goodman, J. Kiley Hamlin, James A. Hampton, Mutsumi Imai, Charles W. Kalish, Frank Keil, Jonathan Kominsky, Stephen Laurence, Gary Lupyan, Edouard Machery, Bradford Z. Mahon, Asifa Majid, Barbara C. Malt, Eric Margolis, Douglas Medin, Nancy J. Nersessian, bethany ojalehto, Anna Papafragou, Joshua M. Plotnik, Noburo Saji, Robert M. Seyfarth, Joshua B. Tenenbaum, Sandra Waxman, Daniel A. Weiskopf, Anna Wierzbicka

    • Hardcover $65.00 £50.00
    • Paperback $50.00 £40.00