IV Workshop on Philosophy and Cognitive Science: Buenos Aires, Argentina. November 12th-14th, 2014

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IV Encuentro de Filosofía y Ciencia Cognitiva

Invited speakers

Dorit Bar-On (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

John Collins (University of East Anglia)

Hanne De Jaegher (University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU)

 Based on the idea that empirical research illuminates philosophical problems about the mind while philosophical reflection contributes to the development of theories in cognitive science, this workshop aims to create a biennial forum to discuss problems that lie at the intersection of philosophy and cognitive science. Examples of relevant topics are, inter alia, mental representations, cognitive architecture, concepts, perception, innatism, consciousness, and self-knowledge. Preference will be given to submissions from different philosophical perspectives (i.e. philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science, phenomenology, etc.) as well as the disciplines that constitute cognitive science (i.e. psychology, linguistics, etc.) which deal directly with these issues.

 We invite all those interested to send in submissions for 40-minute presentations in English or Spanish –including discussion. Submissions should take the form of a 1500-word abstract presenting the main argument. Submissions should be sent by e-mail in an attached .doc, .pdf or .rtf file to wpcc.efcc@gmail.com. Authors’ names and affiliation should be given only in the text of the e-mail message. The abstracts will be blind reviewed by the academic committee. The committee reserves the right to request the full paper, if necessary.

 Deadline for reception of submissions:  August 1, 2014

Notification of acceptance/rejection: September 15, 2014

 The talks of the invited speakers will be given in English. There is no registration fee for speakers.

 Venue: Argentine Society for Philosophical Analysis, Bulnes 642, City of Buenos Aires, Argentina.

 Organizing Committee: Liza Skidelsky (Universidad de Buenos Aires-CONICET), Diana Pérez (Universidad de Buenos Aires-CONICET), Diego Lawler (CONICET), Nicolás Serrano (Universidad de Buenos Aires), Federico Burdman (Universidad de Buenos Aires-ANPCyT), Joel Lorenzatti (CONICET).

 Academic Committee: Ignacio Ávila (Universidad Nacional de Colombia), Manuel de Pinedo (Universidad de Granada), Maite Ezcurdia (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), André Leclerc (Universidade Federal do Ceará), Francisco Pereira (Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile), Pablo Quintanilla (Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú), Rob Stainton (The University of Western Ontario), Jesús Vega Encabo (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid).

 For further information, please see the SADAF website at http://www.sadaf.org.ar, or contact us at wpcc.efcc@gmail.com.

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New Paper: Revisiting Pragmatic Abilities in Autism Spectrum Disorders

Jessica de Villiers (UBC) and I have been writing a series of papers on pragmatic abilities in high-functioning autism. A third one has now been accepted by Pragmatics and Cognition. The abstract follows, along with a link to the whole paper:

In a 2007 paper, we argued that speakers with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) exhibit pragmatic abilities which are surprising given the usual understanding of communication in that group. That is, it is commonly reported that people diagnosed with an ASD have trouble with metaphor, irony, conversational implicature and other non-literal language. This is not a matter of trouble with knowledge and application of rules of grammar. The difficulties lie, rather, in successful communicative interaction. Though we did find pragmatic errors within literal talk, the transcribed conversations we studied showed many, many successes. A second paper reinforced our finding of a general level of success (de Villiers, Myers and Stainton 2012). It considered differences within the class of pragmatically-inflected yet literal speech acts. The present paper carries our project forward. It overcomes some of the methodological limitations of the second paper, by increasing sample size, and looking at frequency of use rather than just seeming errors. It also includes a control sample. The emerging results are two-fold. On the one hand, there was a slight, statistically significant difference in frequency of use between our participants and the controls in four sub-categories: indexicals, possessives, polysemy and degree on a scale. In all four, the participants diagnosed with ASDs had fewer occurrences overall, relative to controls. On the other hand, there was no significant difference in error rates between ASDs and controls – not in any of the eight categories of pragmatic determinants of literal content that we coded for. The upshot is that, though there were less-preferred forms for participants with ASDs, they do very well indeed with pragmatic determinants of literal content.

The paper is available for viewing at http://works.bepress.com/robertstainton/ in the section “Cognitive Science and Linguistics”

What Should A “Personal Statement” Say?

Lately I have been reading many dozens of applications for grad school. (I am on the admissions committee for both Philosophy and Linguistics this year.) One thing that keeps coming up are problematic “Personal Statements”: students don’t seem to have a good idea of what is wanted, and often damage their chances of admission by writing the wrong thing. Just before diving back into my pile of applications again, I thought I’d mention a few tips.

– The Personal Statement is somewhat ill-named. Typically, it shouldn’t be personal in the sense of “My dream has always been…” or “The people who inspired me were…” Sometimes this is relevant information — if it underscores your suitability for pursuing graduate education at the school in question. But for the most part, the tone should be professional and impersonal.

– One question the committee will be asking itself as it reads your statement is: “Is this person a good fit with our department?”. Your statement should make clear that the answers is “Yes”. Ideally, you would mention the faculty whom you expect to work with. You should also highlight elements of your background that show that you are capable of pursuing the degree successfully at that institution.

– Another question the committee will be asking is: “Can this person write well, and come up with a reasonable project?” The committee typically won’t be taking too seriously whether what you sketch as a project will ultimately prove to be a good dissertation topic — few incoming students end up writing on precisely what they propose anyway. So, focus on style and structure. Focus on avoiding glaring errors. And, again, make sure that yours is the kind of topic one could reasonably undertake at the school in question.