Class of 1943 Professor of Philosophy
Program in Linguistics
Department of Psychology
University Center for Human Values
Cognitive Science at Princeton
Along with a group of people from psychology, philosophy, linguistics, neuroscience, computer science, and several other departments, I am currently organizing a Cognitive Science Initative here at Princeton. If you are interested in learning more about this initiative, please email me or visit our website for more information. All members of the Princeton community are welcome, especially undergraduate and graduate students.
The Daily Princetonian recently featured an article on the Cognitive Science Initiative.
My primary research interests lie in the intersection of philosophy and cognitive psychology. I believe that a range of issues in philosophy can be illuminated by psychological considerations, and conversely that empirical psychology can benefit from philosophical understanding.
My most recent work has focused on the question of why certain academic disciplines, but not others, have large gender gaps. In an on-going project, Andrei Cimpian and I are investigating why this might be so, and what might be done to address these gaps. The first of our papers on the topic was recently published in Science. Additional information on the project, including practical suggestions for educators, can be found here.
Much of the rest of my work has focused on generics, which are generalizations like “tigers are striped”, “ducks lay eggs”, and “mosquitoes carry the West Nile virus”. These sentences pose difficulties for traditional formal semantics, but are acquired and processed quickly and easily by young children. This research project seeks to understand the features of our psychology that make this possible, and to explore the consequences of these features for philosophy more generally.
Another main area of research for me concerns the philosophy and psychology of prejudice and stereotyping. Since prejudiced beliefs characteristically involve making generalizations about a group of people, understanding the nature of generic generalizations has the potential to illuminate aspects of social prejudice. Much of my on-going work in this area is conducted in collaboration with Marjorie Rhodes.
Please click here for my online papers, here for my CV, and here for media coverage of my work.
I am currently conducting video interviews with philosophers for the Marc Sanders Foundation. The series, entitled Philosophical Conversations, is available on the Foundation website , and on YouTube.