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Simon Brown

Title | Organization: 
Graduate Student | Ph.D. program in Philosophy
Student Year: 
5th Year PhD Student (Dissertation Phase)

My interests are primarily in philosophy of mind and philosophy of the cognitive sciences. My research focuses on animal minds. I am interested in two kinds of question. Firstly, questions about which mental states/systems animals have - in particular, what kind of relationship to time various animals have. For example, can non-linguistic creatures have episodic memory and planning for the future? In what ways do different animals represent time and how might they use these representations? These are partly questions for empirical science, but philosophy can help guide and interpret the science by clarifying what the nature and significance of these different states/systems might be.

Secondly, I am interested in general questions about the methodology of animal psychology/cognitive ethology. Roughly, the issue is what kinds of evidence we should use to inform our beliefs about what mental states animals have. Good behavioural and neural evidence will be the main source of evidence here. But it is common for scientists to also appeal to considerations concerning evolution and analogies to developmental psychology. I am interested in what we can can say in general about how such considerations are and ought to be used.

Besides my research on animal minds, I also have wide-ranging interests in philosophy of mind and philosophy of the cognitive science, and I have also worked on Wittgenstein; philosophy of logic and language; aesthetics; and decision theory.

Before coming to Columbia, I spent 5 years at the University of Oxford (St John's College). At Oxford I gained a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics in 2011, followed by a BPhil (master's degree) in Philosophy in 2013.