Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Open Peer Commentary
Atran: Folk biology

Cognitive universals, hierarchy, and the history and practice of biological systematics

P. F. Stevens a1
a1 Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA 02138


The hierarchical reach of Atran's cognitive universals is unclear, and some of the key concepts used to discuss them are notorious for their imprecision. Although ideas of class hierarchy pervade Atran's discussion, other ways of thinking are also allowed. The history and practice of systematic biology suggests that a nonclass hierarchical and continuity-based way of thinking has been common there until recently.