Syllabus for Philosophical Foundations of Cognitive Science COGS Q540 Valid HTML 4.01! — version 2005-09-07
COGS Q540 — Philosophical Foundations of Cognitive Science
Meeting time: MW 2:30-3:45; Location: Wells Library 951 may change!
Instructor: Colin Allen, PhD <>
Office / Telephone: Goodbody 113 / 855-8916
Office hours: M 12:00-1:00 and by appointment

Course Description

The cognitive sciences began with great enthusiasm for the prospects of a successful multi-disciplinary attack on the mind. This enthusiasm was fueled by the faith that computational ideas could put flesh on abstract notions of mental representation, providing the means to make good physical sense of questions about the nature of mental information processing. The challenges of understanding how minds work have turned out to be much greater than many of the early enthusiasts predicted — in fact they have turned out to be so great that many (especially here at IU) have argued that we need new paradigms to replace the standard computationalist-representationalist assumptions of traditional cognitive science. This course aims to provide an understanding of the philosophical issues underlying this discussion.


  1. Andy Clark Mindware 2nd Edition, OUP.
  2. Michael Wheeler Reconstructing the Cognitive World, MIT Press.
  3. Additional readings provided online

Grading Basis

Grades will be based on performance in the following four categories:

  1. In class presentation on topic from readings (20%)
  2. Rough draft of paper due before Thanksgiving (20%)
  3. Final paper due Dec 7 (50%)
  4. Participation in class discussions (10%)

Schedule of Readings and Presentations

This schedule may be altered in response to events in class.

Mondays Wednesdays
Aug 29 Organizational Aug 31 [CA] Turing, Newell & Simon
Sep 05 [Elizabeth Palmer] Clark 1,2 Sep 07 [Leslie Blaha] Clark 3
Sep 12 [Cameron Buckner] Clark 4 Sep 14 [Christine Carroll] Clark 5
Sep 19 [Ju-Yu Chang] Clark 6 Sep 21 [Stephen Denton] Clark 7
Sep 26 No class Sep 28 No class
Oct 03 [Cynthia Wallace] Clark 8,9 Oct 05 [Christopher Honey] Computation - Chalmers
"Does a Rock Implement Every Finite-State Automaton?"
Oct 10 [Peter Hook] Beyond computation - van Gelder
"What might cognition be, if not computation?" (link requires IU campus authentication)
Oct 12 [Krystal Klein] Embodiment - Brooks
"Intelligence without representation"
Oct 17 [CA] Block
"Two neural correlates of consciousness" (Ned Block colloquium, 4pm)
Oct 19 [Koruth Kythaparampil] Wheeler 1
Oct 24 [Jae Lee] Wheeler 2 Oct 26 [Angela Nelson] Wheeler 3
Oct 31 [Madhuja Banerjee] Wheeler 4 Nov 02 [CA] tba
Nov 07 [Matthew Rowe] Wheeler 5 Nov 09 [Ronaldo Vigo] Wheeler 6
Nov 14 [Ning Yu] Wheeler 7 Nov 16 [Xin Wang] Wheeler 8
Nov 21 Mike Brady talk at 4:15 Nov 23 No class - Thanksgiving Holiday
Nov 28 [Qin Zhu] Wheeler 9 Nov 30 [Michael Brady] Wheeler 10,11
Dec 05 [CA] tba Dec 07 [CA] wrap up

Statement for Students with Disabilities
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact IU Disability Services for Students.

Statement about Academic Misconduct
University rules concerning academic misconduct will be rigorously enforced in this class. See IU Code of Ethics, Part II for details.