Behavioral and Brain Sciences

Cambridge Journals Online - CUP Full-Text Page
Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2009), 32:511-512 Cambridge University Press
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2010

Open Peer Commentary

Non-instrumental belief is largely founded on singularity1

George Ainsliea1

a1 151 Coatesville VA Medical Center, Coatesville, PA 19320.
Article author query
ainslie g [PubMed]  [Google Scholar]


The radical evolutionary step that divides human decision-making from that of nonhumans is the ability to excite the reward process for its own sake, in imagination. Combined with hyperbolic over-valuation of the present, this ability is a potential threat to both the individual's long term survival and the natural selection of high intelligence. Human belief is intrinsically “unfounded” or under-founded, which may or may not be adaptive.

The evolution of misbelief Ryan T. McKay and Daniel C. Dennett Institute for Empirical Research in Economics, University of Zurich, Zurich 8006, Switzerland; and Centre for Anthropology and Mind, University of Oxford, Oxford OX2 6PE, United Kingdom; The Center for Cognitive Studies, Tufts University, Medford, MA 02155-7059