IU professor receives award for contributions to philosophy and computing

Oct. 22, 2013


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University Bloomington professor Colin Allen has been named the 2013 Barwise Prize recipient by the American Philosophical Association.

Colin Allen, Provost Professor of Cognitive Science and History and Philosophy of Science in the College of Arts and Sciences and current director of the Cognitive Science Program, was awarded the prize for his significant and sustained contributions to areas relevant to philosophy and computing. It is awarded by the American Philosophical Association committee on philosophy and computers.

The Barwise Prize was established in 2002 and has strong ties to Indiana University. It is named for K. Jon Barwise, an American mathematician, philosopher and logician who proposed fundamental revisions to the way logic is understood and used. Barwise began teaching at Indiana University in 1990 and was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1999. He died in 2000. The IU School of Informatics and Computing has named a fellowship for master's and doctoral degree students in his honor.

The previous recipient of the Barwise prize in 2011 was IU Distinguished Professor Douglas Hofstadter. (The prize was not awarded in 2012.) Former Barwise Prize recipients also include IU alumni David Chalmers in 2007 and James Moor in 2006. Allen is thus the fourth of 11 winners of the prize to have an IU connection.

Allen is a philosopher who is interested in evolutionary approaches to animal behavior and cognition. He works closely with biologists and psychologists who study questions about what can legitimately be inferred about the nature of animal cognition from field and laboratory data. Allen has also published on other topics in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of biology, artificial intelligence and neural networks.

His current projects include a series of papers on animal pain that may lead to a book, a paper on scientific/evolutionary concepts of culture, a book on artificial moral agents, and the capture and analysis of data from Web-based logic instructional software to provide context-sensitive feedback to students and to test hypotheses about strategies for teaching and learning logic.

Allen has been consulting and programming for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy since 1998 and is currently its associate editor.