• Search in an environment with an uncertain distribution of resources involves a trade-off between exploitation of past discoveries and further exploration. This extends to information foraging, where a knowledge-seeker shifts between reading in depth and studying new domains. To study this decision-making process, we examine the reading choices made by one of the most celebrated scientists of the modern era: Charles Darwin. From the full-text of books listed in his chronologically-organized read…Read more
  • On defining cognition
    Synthese 194 (11): 4233-4249. 2017.
    Should cognitive scientists be any more embarrassed about their lack of a discipline-fixing definition of cognition than biologists are about their inability to define “life”? My answer is “no”. Philosophers seeking a unique “mark of the cognitive” or less onerous but nevertheless categorical characterizations of cognition are working at a level of analysis upon which hangs nothing that either cognitive scientists or philosophers of cognitive science should care about. In contrast, I advocate a …Read more
  • Communication and Cognition: Is Information the Connection?
    with Marc Hauser
    PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1992 81-91. 1992.
    Donald Griffin has suggested that cognitive ethologists can use communication between non-human animals as a "window" into animal minds. Underlying this metaphor seems to be a conception of cognition as information processing and communication as information transfer from signaller to receiver. We examine various analyses of information and discuss how these analyses affect an ongoing debate among ethologists about whether the communicative signals of some animals should be interpreted as refere…Read more
  • Species of Mind. The Philosophy and Biology of Cognitive Ethology
    with Marc Bekoff
    Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 33 (1): 163-168. 2002.
  • The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: A Developed Dynamic Reference Work
    with Uri Nodelman and Edward N. Zalta
    Metaphilosophy 33 (1&2): 210-228. 2002.
  • Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right From Wrong
    with Wendell Wallach
    Oxford University Press. 2008.
    Computers are already approving financial transactions, controlling electrical supplies, and driving trains. Soon, service robots will be taking care of the elderly in their homes, and military robots will have their own targeting and firing protocols. Colin Allen and Wendell Wallach argue that as robots take on more and more responsibility, they must be programmed with moral decision-making abilities, for our own safety. Taking a fast paced tour through the latest thinking about philosophical e…Read more
  • The naturalistic theory of mind that arises from ethology is faced with the question of continuity between human mind and animal mind. In particular, the applicability of intentional, mentalistic terms to animals arises. I argue that cognitive ethologists can and should operate with a realistic conception of intentional states in animals. ;I start by considering arguments claiming to show that the attribution of intentional states presents special difficulties in the case of animals, because the…Read more
  • Private codes and public structures
    In David McFarland, Keith Stenning & Maggie McGonigle (eds.), The Complex Mind, Palgrave-macmillan. pp. 223. 2012.
  • Why Eshkol-Wachman behavioral notation is not enough
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 15 (2): 266-267. 1992.
  • Methodological questions begged
    Behavior and Philosophy 39 (40). 2011.
    I argue in opposition to Sam Rakover that the current lack of fully adequate theories of the subjective and qualitative aspects of mind does not justify the adoption of what he calls “methodological dualism” (Rakover, this issue). Scientific understanding of consciousness requires the continuation of attempts to explain it in terms of the neural mechanisms that support it. It would be premature to adopt a methodological stance that could foreclose on the possibility of more reductionistic approa…Read more
  • Ethics, Law, and the Science of Fish Welfare
    Between the Species 16 (1): 7. 2013.
    Fish farming is one of the fastest growing sectors of agriculture, attracting considerable attention to the question of whether existing farming regulations and animal welfare laws are adequate to deal with the expanding role of fish in feeding humans. The role of fish as model organisms in scientific research is also expanding -- a majority of research biology departments now keep zebrafish for the purposes of genome biology, and they are used widely used for basic neuroscience research. Howeve…Read more
  • Letters to the Editor
    with Michael Kerlin and Eleanor Wittrup
    Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 75 (2). 2001.
  • 18 Ethical Issues in Chronic Pain Research
    with Robert J. Gatchel and Perry N. Fuchs
    In B. L. Gant & M. E. Schatman (eds.), Ethical Issues in Chronic Pain Management, . pp. 295. 2006.
    As the above quote clearly highlights, it is the responsibility of researchers and research supervisors to be certain that their research staff and students assistants are very familiar with all of the ethical principles and current standards relevant to the research they are conducting. Indeed, they must take an active role in being certain that their research staff and students complete appropriate training in these ethical principles and standards, and how they apply them to the research cont…Read more
  • Machine morality: bottom-up and top-down approaches for modelling human moral faculties (review)
    with Wendell Wallach and Iva Smit
    AI and Society 22 (4): 565-582. 2008.
    The implementation of moral decision making abilities in artificial intelligence (AI) is a natural and necessary extension to the social mechanisms of autonomous software agents and robots. Engineers exploring design strategies for systems sensitive to moral considerations in their choices and actions will need to determine what role ethical theory should play in defining control architectures for such systems. The architectures for morally intelligent agents fall within two broad approaches: th…Read more
  • A Conceptual and Computational Model of Moral Decision Making in Human and Artificial Agents
    with Wendell Wallach and Stan Franklin
    Topics in Cognitive Science 2 (3): 454-485. 2010.
    Recently, there has been a resurgence of interest in general, comprehensive models of human cognition. Such models aim to explain higher-order cognitive faculties, such as deliberation and planning. Given a computational representation, the validity of these models can be tested in computer simulations such as software agents or embodied robots. The push to implement computational models of this kind has created the field of artificial general intelligence (AGI). Moral decision making is arguabl…Read more
  • The close kinship between humans, chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans is a central theme among participants in the debate about human treatment of the other apes. Empathy is probably the single most important determinant of actual human moral behavior, including the treatment of nonhuman animals. Given the applied nature of questions about the treatment of captive apes, it is entirely appropriate that the close relationship between us should be highlighted. But the role that relatedness should…Read more
  • Ethics and the science of animal minds
    Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 27 (4): 375-394. 2006.
    Ethicists have commonly appealed to science to bolster their arguments for elevating the moral status of nonhuman animals. I describe a framework within which I take many ethicists to be making such appeals. I focus on an apparent gap in this framework between those properties of animals that are part of the scientific consensus, and those to which ethicists typically appeal in their arguments. I will describe two different ways of diminishing the appearance of the gap, and argue that both of th…Read more
  • Review of Peter Carruthers' Language, thought, and consciousness (review)
    Philosophical Psychology 11 91-94. 1998.
  • In this paper we look at the manual analysis of arguments and how this compares to the current state of automatic argument analysis. These considerations are used to develop a new approach combining a machine learning algorithm to extract propositions from text, with a topic model to determine argument structure. The results of this method are compared to a manual analysis.
  • Multi-level computational methods for interdisciplinary research in the HathiTrust Digital Library
    with Jaimie Murdock, Katy Börner, Robert Light, Simon McAlister, Andrew Ravenscroft, Robert Rose, Doori Rose, Jun Otsuka, David Bourget, John Lawrence, and Chris Reed
    PLoS ONE 12 (9). 2017.
    We show how faceted search using a combination of traditional classification systems and mixed-membership topic models can go beyond keyword search to inform resource discovery, hypothesis formulation, and argument extraction for interdisciplinary research. Our test domain is the history and philosophy of scientific work on animal mind and cognition. The methods can be generalized to other research areas and ultimately support a system for semi-automatic identification of argument structures. We…Read more
  • Communication and Cognition: Is Information The Connection?
    with M. Hauser
    Psa 1992 81-91. 1992.
    Donald Griffin has suggested that cognitive ethologists can use communication between non-human animals as a "window" into animal minds. Underlying this metaphor seems to be a conception of cognition as information processing and communication as information transfer from signaller to receiver. We examine various analyses of information and discuss how these analyses affect an ongoing debate among ethologists about whether the communicative signals of some animals should be interpreted as refere…Read more
  • A Perceptual Account of Symbolic Reasoning
    Frontiers in Psychology 5. 2014.
    People can be taught to manipulate symbols according to formal mathematical and logical rules. Cognitive scientists have traditionally viewed this capacity—the capacity for symbolic reasoning—as grounded in the ability to internally represent numbers, logical relationships, and mathematical rules in an abstract, amodal fashion. We present an alternative view, portraying symbolic reasoning as a special kind of embodied reasoning in which arithmetic and logical formulae, externally represented as …Read more
  • Artificial morality: Top-down, bottom-up, and hybrid approaches (review)
    with Iva Smit and Wendell Wallach
    Ethics and Information Technology 7 (3): 149-155. 2005.
    A principal goal of the discipline of artificial morality is to design artificial agents to act as if they are moral agents. Intermediate goals of artificial morality are directed at building into AI systems sensitivity to the values, ethics, and legality of activities. The development of an effective foundation for the field of artificial morality involves exploring the technological and philosophical issues involved in making computers into explicit moral reasoners. The goal of this paper is t…Read more
  • Synthese special issue: representing philosophy
    with Tony Beavers
    Synthese 182 (2): 181-183. 2011.
  • Animal Behavior
    In Michael Ruse (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Biology, Oxford University Press. pp. 327--348. 2008.
    Few areas of scientific investigation have spawned more alternative approaches than animal behavior: comparative psychology, ethology, behavioral ecology, sociobiology, behavioral endocrinology, behavioral neuroscience, neuroethology, behavioral genetics, cognitive ethology, developmental psychobiology---the list goes on. Add in the behavioral sciences focused on the human animal, and you can continue the list with ethnography, biological anthropology, political science, sociology, psychology (c…Read more