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Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science


Taylor Davis   

"I came to philosophy through psychology, and my research has always focused on scientific theories of the mind, with a focus on the role of evolutionary history. My current focus is on the evolution of norms, or cultural values, and on the theoretical problems raised by the many conflicting ways norms are represented across the social sciences. This includes concerns about the nature of norms in general, but also certain specific types of norms, such as moral norms, norms of sustainability and environmentalism, and norms of democracy. This focus on norms is a natural extension of earlier work on the evolution of religion, morality, and culture in general, some of which focuses on purely theoretical issues, and has been published in Review of Philosophy and PsychologySocial Philosophy and Policy, and Journal of Cognition and Culture, while other work, published in Philosophical Psychology and Social Cognition, is empirical, using methods from experimental philosophy to measure folk intuitions about metaethics and the concept of morality. Finally, one strand of my research focuses on applying scientific theory, rather than developing it: I argue for climate solutions that focus on internalizing norms of sustainability and environmentalism, rather than merely complying with them as a means of avoiding punishment and gaining approval. Work on this topic has been published in Nature SustainabilitySustainabilitySustainability Science, and Ecology and Society."

Daniel Kelly   

"My work in philosophy of mind is largely empirically informed, and seeks to understand the structure and functioning of our moral minds. Much of my recent work has been focused on social norms and norm psychology, and on how culture influences minds and behaviors."

Javier Gomez-Lavin   

"My work tackles the (in)adequacy of concepts in cognitive science, with an emphasis on those at the core of “central” cognition: reasoning, reflection, and imagination. I’ve argued that the psychological realizers of these processes—with an emphasis on working memory—can’t explain many of their desired features, and that less individualistically-oriented concepts will be required to make progress in cognitive science. Namely, new concepts rooted in our social, moral, and aesthetic worlds. This, in turn, requires that we better understand how we perceive and make sense of the social and normative bonds that innervate our lives. It’s that problem that motivates my longstanding collaborative and interdisciplinary research, the continuation of which lies at the heart of the Purdue Normativity and Cognitions (PuNCs) lab. 

This lab continues a strain of work that I've developed in experimental philosophy (which many practitioners affectionately shorten to "x-phi"), that uses the tools of empirical social psychology to test philosophically rich theories about the role that moral values play in personal identity (Gomez-Lavin & Prinz 2019), our experiences of art and its role in informing identity (Fingerhut, Gomez-Lavin, Winklemayer & Prinz 2021), our perceptions of togetherness (Gomez-Lavin & Rachar 2019, 2022, 2023), and our judgements about the role of social norms—like those tied to gender—in developing future AI systems (Read, Gomez-Lavin, Beltrama & Miracchi 2022).  Presently in the PuNCs Lab we're empirically cataloguing the norms that arise from different cases of working together with others and how this “normative fingerprint” might help us map various social relationships, with a specific focus on the norms that inform relationships of Solidarity. With the with the Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence (VRAI) lab, we are beginning work to uncover how these bonds might deform or extend as we enter into unprecedented collaborative and competitive relationships with artificial intelligence in both augmented and virtual reality. All in all, to make progress in cognitive science my bet is that we’ll need to move beyond our inherited cache of individualistically oriented concepts and make room for those that privilege our nature as socially embedded creatures."

Evan Westra 

Evan Westra works on a number of topics in the philosophy of cognitive science, with a special focus on social cognitionHe is particularly interested how we use concepts like knowledge and belief, the cognitive science and epistemology of character judgment, and the cognitive science of norms. He also has interests in the philosophy of animal minds and in debates about mental representation.