Colin Allen--Biographical Sketch

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Short Version

Colin Allen (PhD 1989, UCLA) is Distinguished Professor in the Department of History & Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He previously taught at Indiana University, Bloomington (2004-2017) and Texas A&M University (1989-2004). From 2015-2019, he also held the visiting position of "Chair Professor" at Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China.

Allen's main areas of research concern the philosophical foundations of cognitive science, particularly as these relate to scientific study of cognition and artificial intelligence. His publications also span topics in the philosophy of mind, philosophy of biology, and humanities computing, over 120 research articles and several edited and co-authored books, including Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong (Oxford University Press 2009) which has been translated into Korean, Chinese, and Japanese.

Since 1998 Allen has been consulting and programming for The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and is Associate Editor of the encyclopedia. He is director of the Internet Philosophy Ontology project (InPhO) which has received multiple national and international research grants for its work in computational humanities. He was co-PI of a project on the Evolution of Human Cognition funded by a multimillion dollar grant by the John Templeton Foundation to the Stone Age Institute in Bloomington, Indiana from 2015-2019. From 2020-2022 he is the recipient of an award from the Templeton World Charity Foundation's Diverse Intelligences program for a project titled "Wisdom in the Machine Age".

In 2010 Allen received a Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany, which is given "in recognition of a researcher's entire achievements to date", and in 2013 he received the Barwise Prize from the American Philosophical Association "for significant and sustained contributions to areas relevant to philosophy and computing by an APA member." In 2017 he was given the Changjiang Scholar award by the Ministry of Education in the People's Republic of China. In 2020, Allen was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Long Version

Colin Allen is Distinguished Professor in the department of History & Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. From 2017-2019, he also held the title of "Changjiang (Yangtze River) Chair Professor" at Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China.

Allen's main area of research is on the philosophical foundations of cognitive science, particularly with respect to nonhuman animals. He is interested in the scientific debates between ethology and comparative psychology, and current issues arising in cognitive ethology. Allen has also published on other topics in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of biology, and artificial intelligence.

Allen has published dozens of articles and reviews, and authored or co-edited several books. His latest book is Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong (Oxford University Press 2009), coauthored with Wendell Wallach, and translated into Korean (2015), Chinese (2017: Peking University Press), and Japanese (2019). Species of Mind (MIT Press 1997), co-authored with Marc Bekoff, remains in print and has also been translated into Italian. Nature's Purposes, coedited with Bekoff and George Lauder is an anthology of previously published papers about the role of teleological concepts in biological explanation. This volume was published in April of 1998, also by MIT Press. The Evolution of Mind, is a collection of original essays co-edited with cognitive psychologist Denise Cummins, which was published in May 1998 by Oxford University Press. The Cognitive Animal is a collection of 57 original essays by animal cognition experts, coedited with Marc Bekoff and Gordon Burghardt, and published in the summer of 2002 by The MIT Press.

Allen holds a B.A. in philosophy from University College London and a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of California at Los Angeles where he also did graduate work in computer science (artificial intelligence). Prior to moving to the University of Pittsburgh, Allen was "Provost Professor" of Cognitive Science and History & Philosophy of Science, where he also served as director of the cognitive science program from 2011-2015. He was formerly Professor of Philosophy at Texas A&M University, and then at Indiana University from 2004 until he moved to the University of Pittsburgh in 2017.

Since 1998 he has been consulting and programming for The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and is Associate Editor of the encyclopedia. He coauthored a logic textbook Logic Primer (MIT Press 1992, 2nd ed. 2001) with Texas A&M colleague Michael Hand. In 1995 Allen created the first interactive logic site on the world wide web with Texas A&M colleague Chris Menzel at http://logic.tamu.edu/. They are also co-developers of the site at http://www.poweroflogic.com. Allen is currently director of the Internet Philosophy Ontology project (InPhO) which in 2007 was awarded a Digital Humanities startup grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and in 2009 received another grant from the NEH Division of Preservation and Access, and has been subsequently funded by the NEH jointly with JISC in the UK and DFG in Germany. Alongside four Indiana University colleagues he was co-PI of a project on the Evolution of Human Cognition funded by a multimillion dollar grant by the John Templeton Foundation to the Stone Age Institute in Bloomington, Indiana from 2015-2019.

In 2020 Allen was elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for "significant contributions to philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, philosophy of cognitive science, and in logic, computation and artificial intelligence." In 2017 he was given the Changjiang (Yangtze River) Scholar award by the Ministry of Education of the People's Republic of China. In 2013 he received the Barwise Prize from the American Philosophical Association "for significant and sustained contributions to areas relevant to philosophy and computing by an APA member." In 2010 Allen received a Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany, which is given "in recognition of a researcher's entire achievements to date." Allen was President of the Society for Philosophy and Psychology in 2008-2009. In 2008 he was honored as Faculty Mentor of the Year by the Indiana University Graduate and Professional Students Organization. He also received the Association of Former Students Distinguished Teaching Award at Texas A&M in 2000. In 1994-1995 he spent the year at the University of Colorado, Boulder, as recipient of a Professional Development Fellowship from the National Science Foundation.

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Last substantial update Dec 3, 2020
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