PhD in Philosophy

Philosophy of the Mind, the Cognition and the Language

Curriculum Coordinator: Prof. Claudia Bianchi

The philosophy of mind and language in the analytical tradition, on the one hand, and cognitive science, on the other hand, are quickly-evolving research areas, which build on reflection upon human and artificial cognitive processes. The philosophy of language and mind is thus tightly entwined with topics studied by related disciplines, like epistemology, philosophy of science, cognitive psychology, logic and philosophy of mathematics.

The interaction between these research areas and recent contributions afforded by cognitive science calls for a mature epistemological and theoretical reflection.  A novel conceptual and methodological framework, suitable for experimental studies, will allow new applications in emerging fields, such as cognitive social sciences, or the neural bases of decision-making processes and of conscious thought.

In particular, the following research areas will be privileged:

A study of mental phenomena will be pursued through an integration of theoretical reflection and brain sciences. Central to this area will be the problems related to decision-making and agent rationality, to the nature of the cognitive subject, and the relation between biological and cultural dimensions in mental phenomena.  Such topics will be preferably analysed from a philosophical point of view, by paying close attention to theories of intentionality and of phenomenal consciousness, in the context of the debate on the naturalisation of the mind.

Some areas of investigation will be:

  • philosophy of cognitive science
  • theory of rational action
  • intercultural dimension of cognitive processes and the relationship between culture and cognition
  • theory of the content of mental states
  • cognitive economy
  • theories of intentionality and consciousness
  • philosophy of perception
  • visual perception, imaging technologies and filmology
  • history and methodology of research in psychologyb.

As regards the study of language-related disciplines, two main axes will be privileged.

The first is represented by theoretical reflections upon language and communication: a thorough analysis of the most recent research perspectives within the contemporary debate in the philosophy of language and ordinary language philosophy. Particular attention will be paid to pragmatics and its application to different domains (epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, gender studies), especially with respect to the debate on free speech, hate speech and censorship.

The second axe stems from an aspect of the former: an analysis of cognitive perspectives on human communication – with the purpose of building models of communication consistent with empirical and clinical observation, and with experimental data. In this area, alongside of reflections on what makes communication possible, are significant questions about the thought process behind the production and understanding of language, the cognitive faculties involved in the communication process and their interaction, and the underlying mental architecture.

Some areas of investigation will be:

  • philosophy of language and ordinary language philosophy
  • semantics and logic of natural languages
  • cognitive pragmatics
  • neuropragmatics
  • anticipatory pragmatics
  • free speech and hate speech
  • gender studies
  • language and cognitionc.

In the research area in epistemology, logic and philosophy of mathematics, general logico-epistemological topics will be investigated, also in connection with general logico-mathematical themes. Crucial issues are: questions of classical and experimental epistemology, epistemic problems of mathematical knowledge revisited in the light of recent perspectives in epistemology, thanks to interaction with the philosophy of language, science and cognitive science, ontology and formal logic; philosophical inquiry on formal languages, also in the light of their application to the issue of the foundations in the philosophy of mathematics.

Areas of investigation will be:

  •  classical epistemology and experimental epistemology
  • a priori knowledge and philosophical methodology
  • justification and entitlement
  • philosophy of arithmetic
  • neo-Fregean philosophy of mathematics and their alternatives
  • the debate on Platonism vs Nominalism
  • mathematical Naturalism, empirical sciences and numerical cognition
  • mathematical explanation
  • formal languages, non-classical logic and foundations of mathematics
  • ontological dependence and groundedness.