University of Pittsburgh
Primary Faculty

Colin Allen

Distinguished Professor


Allen's main areas of research concern the philosophical foundations of cognitive science and neuroscience. He is particularly interested in the scientific study of cognition in nonhuman animals and computers, and he has published widely on topics in the philosophy of mind, philosophy of biology, and artificial intelligence. He also has several projects in the area of humanities computing.


Ph.D. University of California at Los Angeles 1989

B.A. University of London (University College) 1982

Selected Courses Taught

Philosophical Foundations of Cognitive Science

History & Philosophy of Comparative Cognition

Introduction to Cognitive Science

Functions and Mechanisms in the Life Sciences

Selected/Recent Publications

2017: On (Not) Defining ‘Cognition’, Synthese, in press.

2017: Exploration and Exploitation of Victorian Science in Darwin's Reading Notebooks, Cognition. 159: 117-126. With with Jaimie Murdock and Simon DeDeo.

2014: A perceptual account of symbolic reasoning, Frontiers in Psychology, 5: article 275. With David Landy and Carlos Zednik.

2013: The geometry of partial understanding. American Philosophical Quarterly 50: 249-262.

2013: Information and Uncertainty in Meerkats and Monkeys. In U. Stegmann (Ed.) Animal Communication Theory: Information and Influence. Cambridge University Press, pp. 319-335.

2010: Recognizing group cognition, Cognitive Systems Research 11 (4), 378-395. With Georg Theiner and Robert L Goldstone.

2008: Moral machines: Teaching robots right from wrong, Oxford University Press. With Wendell Wallach.

Professional Membership/Offices

• American Philosophical Association

• Philosophy of Science Association

• International Society for History, Philosophy, and Social Study of Biology

• Society for Philosophy & Psychology (former president)

• Cognitive Science Society