Psychological & Brain Sciences/Philosophy Conference – “Fitting the Mind to the Brain: Deliberations on Cognitive Ontology”

October 26, 2018 and October 27, 2018
9:00 am
Alumni House (Danforth Campus, 6510 Wallace Drive)

“Fitting the Mind to the Brain: Deliberations on Cognitive Ontology”

Conference Abstract
Psychologists study human cognition indirectly by positing constructs such as “episodic memory” and “executive control.” Collectively, these constructs form a “cognitive ontology” (Price and Friston 2005)—a taxonomy of scientifically legitimate psychological kinds. There is now much scientific interest in using neuroscience—particularly functional neuroimaging techniques—to test our cognitive ontology (Poldrack 2010, Lenartowicz et al. 2010, Anderson 2015). A key assumption of this work, shared by many (e.g., Price and Friston 2005, Lindquist et al. 2012, Anderson 2014), is that our best psychological theories should align with observed patterns of brain activation. But the idea of using neuroscience to revise our cognitive ontology—viz., to discover new cognitive kinds, eliminate existing ones, etc. (Price and Friston 2005, Anderson 2015, Polger and Shapiro 2016)—is fraught with empirical and philosophical challenges. Addressing these challenges will require collaboration across multiple disciplines. The workshop aims to foster collaboration between philosophers, neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, and computer scientists interested in cognitive ontology.

On Friday Oct. 26th-Saturday Oct. 27th, Washington University in St. Louis is hosting a conference, “Fitting the Mind to the Brain: Deliberations on Cognitive Ontology.” This conference is a philosophical exploration of the ways in which cognitive neuroscience can inform our understanding of psychological kinds such as “addiction,” “memory,” “the will,” and psychiatric categories. The central question of this interdisciplinary conference is whether and how neuroscience can revise our view of the psychological constructs or faculties that make up the human mind.

Talks are open to all, but we ask that you register for the conference online.

Learn more and register

Keynote – Friday October 26th at 4PM in Busch 100 (Danforth Campus)

  • Dr. Russell Poldrack and Albert Ray Lang (Stanford University)

Additional Speakers –  Oct. 26th-27th at Wash-U’s Alumni House (Danforth Campus)

  • Robyn Bluhm (Michigan State University)
  • Ryan Bogdan (WashU Psychological & Brain Sciences)
  • Felipe de Brigaard (Duke University)
  • Carl Craver (WashU Philosophy)
  • Julia Haas (Rhodes College)
  • Colin Klein (Australian National University)
  • Sarah Robins (Kansas University)
  • Chandra Sripada (Michigan University)
  • Tal Yarkoni (University of Texas, Austin)

View full schedule


Deliberations on Cognitive Ontology is organized by former PNP postdoc Joseph McCaffrey (Philosophy, University of Nebraska, Omaha), professor Colin Klein (Philosophy- Australian National University), Benjamin Henke, and Emily Prychitko (graduate students in Wash-U’s Philosophy and PNP Program).

The conference is generously sponsored by the John Templeton Foundation (Summer Seminars in Neuroscience and Philosophy and Duke Institute for Brain Sciences), WashU’s Department of Philosophy, and WashU’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences.