Philosophy and Neuroscience Professor to be Honored for Contribution to Philosophy Research

Andrea Scarantino, philosophy and neuroscience professor, has been selected to receive the 2017 Herbert A. Simon Award for Outstanding Research by the International Association for Computing and Philosophy (IACAP). phil_scarantino300300

The Simon Award recognizes early career scholars whose research is expected to reshape debates at the nexus of computing and philosophy. The recipient is awarded at the International Association for Computing and Philosophy’s annual meeting.

 “I welcome it as a nice pat on the back and a sign that I am doing research that may one day bear fruits,” said Scarantino. “I do not like flashy, provocative, polemical work that rides on the latest fad, only to leave little trace over time. This award signifies to me that there is room for the slower, more deliberate and more systematic philosophical work I have been doing over the past few years.”

Scarantino’s research, some of which was carried out in collaboration with Gualtiero Piccinini of the University of Missouri Saint Louis, focuses on understanding the relation between two contemporary cognitive science buzzwords: computation and information. Although these two terms are often used interchangeably, Scarantino argues that there are important differences between them.

“The framework we have developed makes it easier to distinguish purely semantic disputes on how to use the terms “computation” and “information” from substantive disagreements about how the mind works,” said Scarantino. “By untangling some of the conceptual knots and hidden premises that stand in the way of theoretical progress, we have paved the way for the empirical resolution of several central debates in psychology and neuroscience on the nature of cognition and the role the brain plays in it.”

Recently, Scarantino has begun to investigate what kinds of information emotional expressions carry, arguing that the expression of emotions may have possibly contributed to the evolution of language, by making available a roster of basic communicative moves helpful for language bootstrapping. 

“I want to share this recognition with my colleagues in the Philosophy Department,” said Scarantino. “It is a department full of smart, caring, generous and dedicated colleagues who offer feedback on my work when I ask for it, make me feel appreciated and inspire me with their own accomplishments. These are the sorts of departments that allow individual faculty members to excel as researchers.”

He added, “I also want to acknowledge the support I have received from Georgia State over the years in the form of internal grants, including a Provost’s Fellowship and a scholarly support grant. My recommendation to Georgia State administrators is to continue investing in the professional development of your faculty. This will bear tremendous fruits in the long run.”

In addition to receiving the Simon Award, Scarantino will also deliver the Simon Award Keynote Address at IACAP 2017, which will be hosted June 26-28 at Stanford University.

To learn more about IACAP and the Simon Award, please click here.