Mind and cognition

The intersection of philosophy of mind and cognitive science, specialising in embodiment, consciousness, perception, action, and situated reason

Mind and cognition is an inherently interdisciplinary and fast-moving field, in which Edinburgh ranks among the world leaders.

We group benefit hugely from research and faculty in the nearby School of Informatics (ranked number 1 in the last two UK Research Assessment Exercises) which brings together research in Computer Science, Cognitive Science, Computational Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence.

The group also enjoys regular contact with Psychology (especially Human Cognitive Neuroscience), Linguistics (especially the unique and world-leading Centre for Language Evolution), and Music (especially the Institute for Music and Human Development).


Human Cognitive Neuroscience

Centre for Language Evolution

Institute for Music and Human Development

Research questions

Focal topics for our research include:

The debates concerning extended and embodied cognition The metaphysics and epistemology of mind

The nature of perception and perceptual experience

Bounded and situated reason
The nature of computation Predictive coding and neurocomputational approaches to mind
Agency and the will The epistemological ramifications of extended cognition
Phenomenology and consciousness  


Core faculty working in this area include:

  Research interests
Professor Andy Clark Philosophy of mind, artificial intelligence, including robotics, artificial life, embodied cognition, and mind, technology, and culture.
Dr Alistair Isaac

Philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychology, philosophy of science.

Professor Jesper Kallestrup Philosophy of language, epistemology, philosophy of mind.

Dr Jane Suilin Lavelle

Philosophy of psychology, philosophy of mind, cognitive science, moral psychology, philosophy of science.

Dr Aidan McGlynn

Epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind.

Dr Mark Sprevak

Philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, metaphysics, philosophy of language.

Dr Nick Treanor

Metaphysics, epistemology and the philosophy of mind.

Dr Tillmann Vierkant

Philosophy of mind, free will, mental actions, mindreading, consciousness, implicit/explicit mental processing, neuroethics, philosophy of psychology and of cognitive science.

Dr David Ward

Philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

Other staff and post-docs with an interest in mind and cognition include:

  Research interests
Dr Matthew Chrisman Ethical theory, philosophy of language, epistemology.

Professor Pauline Phemister

Early modern philosophy, embodied values.

Professor Duncan Pritchard


Professor Mike Ridge

Ethics, political philosophy, action theory, epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language

Dr Miranda Anderson (History)

Parallels and contrasts between recent philosophical theories on the embodied and extended mind, and analogous ideas in literary, philosophical, and scientific texts from the fifteenth and early-seventeenth century.
Professor Jim Hurford (Linguistics) Linguistic theory, language evolution.
Professor Simon Kirby (Linguistics) Origins and evolution of language; cultural evolution; bridging scientific and artistic practice.
Dr Robert McIntosh (Psychology) Neural control of visual perception and visually-guided action in humans.
Professor Jon Oberlander (Informatics) Epistemics, getting computers to talk (or write) like humans.
Dr Katie Overy (Music) Musical learning, especially music psychology, music pedagogy and music neuroscience, music as support for individuals with diagnoses such as dyslexia, aphasia, autism and dementia.
Dr Paul Schweizer (Informatics) Philosophical logic, the computational paradigm and conceptual foundations of cognitive science and AI, philosophy of mind and language.
Dr Richard Shillcock (Psychology and informatics) Reading, cognitive modelling, language representation and processing, and the nature of theories and models in psychology and in cognitive science more widely.
Dr Alan Smaill (Informatics) Constructive logics and non-realist semantics, reflection principles and their application in automated reasoning systems, theorem proving in relation to programming.
Professor Mark Steedman (Informatics) Computational linguistics, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, computational music analysis, combinatory logic.
Professor Barbara Webb (Informatics) Question answering, bioinformatics, discourse, natural language semantics, knowledge representation and inference.

Postgraduate study

MSc Philosophy (specialisation in Mind and Cognition available)

MSc Mind, Language and Embodied Cognition

PhD and MSc by Research programmes

Meetings and events

The group organises one of the university's most diverse interdisciplinary reading group: a bi-weekly interdisciplinary seminar uniting Philosophy, Psychology, Neuroscience, Linguistics and Informatics (the PPIG series). We also organise the computational mind reading group.

Philosophy, psychology and informatics (PPIG) reading group

Computational mind reading group

We also organise various conferences and workshops on relevant themes.

Previous mind and cognition events