Workshops and Conferences

Workshops & Conferences at UConn


Kinds of Mindreading: A Graduate Conference on Theory of Mind,

Feb 6, 2021
Keynote speakers: Prof. Helen Tager-Flusberg (Boston University, Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences)
Asst. Prof. Jonathan S. Phillips (Dartmouth College, Departments of Cognitive Science, Philosophy, and Psychological and Brain Sciences)

The aim of “Kinds of Mindreading” (Virtual Graduate Conference) is to generate interdisciplinary discussion on varieties or types of mindreading that are of interest to researchers, including philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, and anthropologists. We encourage contributions that discuss specific types of mindreading by either creating novel distinctions or by critically analyzing current and traditional distinctions pertaining to mindreading in light of new research and insights.

Below are examples of potential topics (in no particular order, and with some overlaps):

  • Implicit vs. explicit theory of mind
  • The relationship between theory of mind and language
  • Mindreading in Autism Spectrum Disorder
  • Mind reading vs. Behavior reading
  • The two-systems approach to mindreading (minimal vs. full-blown mind-reading; fast/automatic process vs. slower/reflective process)
  • Simulation-Theory vs. Theory-Theory
  • The modularity-nativist approach to mindreading
  • The Intentional Stance approach to mindreading
  • Domain general vs. domain specific mechanisms of mindreading
  • Procedural (know-how) understanding vs. theoretical understanding of mental states
  • Innate vs. learned knowledge of other minds
  • Observational vs. inferential forms of mindreading
  • The Embodied Cognition approach to mindreading
  • First-person mindreading (self-mentalization) vs. third-person mindreading
  • Metacognition vs. theory of mind

Speaker list and their talks: (in the order of their talks)


Julia Wolf (Ruhr-University Bochum): The Implicit – Explicit Distinction and the Challenge of Active Helping Behaviour Paradigms


Charles Beasley (LSE): A Complementary Approach to Animal Mindreading

Eda Önoğlu Yıldırım (Bilkent): Are Cultural Differences in ToM Explained by Parenting


Qianhui Ni (USC): “It’s Not What You Think It Is”: 3-year-olds’ Understanding That Appearances Can “Deceive” and Lead to False Assumptions


MJ Heise (UC Davis): Spontaneous Belief Understanding at Age 2 Predicts Explicit Theory of Mind at Age 3


Ruihan Wu (UCL): Do Autistic Adults Spontaneously Reason False and True Beliefs?


Helen Tager-Flusberg: What Autism Has Taught Us about Theory of Mind



Kinds of Knowledge

ECOM’s Inaugural Graduate Conference, Nov 15-16, 2019
Keynote Speakers: Fri Nov 15: Prof. Alex Byrne (MIT); Sat Nov 16: Prof. Kristin Andrews (York University)

In several places, the epistemologist Ernie Sosa has distinguished two varieties of knowledge: animalknowledge and reflective knowledge, where “animal knowledge that p does not require that the knower have an epistemic perspective … from which [one] endorses the source of that belief” whereas reflective knowledge “by contrast require such a perspective”. Sosa’s characterization makes it clear that he is concerned to distinguish two varieties of human propositional knowledge (what psychologists label ‘descriptive’ or ‘declarative’ knowledge), as opposed to nonpropositional (‘procedural’) knowledge, sometimes described as ‘knowledge how’. But Sosa’s discussion gives rise to questions that take us beyond human knowledge.

Philosophers and psychologists of different stripes have increasingly questioned whether all humanknowledge – even if not reflective in Sosa’s sense – is best understood in terms provided by traditional epistemology, viz. as requiring (at least) having a belief that something is the case (e.g., that there is a laptop in front of me right now, that 2×3=6, that vixen are female foxes, that the way to get to campus is thus & so, and so on), which belief is both true and justified by reference to the merits of the knower’s way(s) of forming the belief. It is not clear that this traditional analysis of knowledge is fit to account for competent adult human knowledge of logical truths, of the rules of one’s language, of one’s own present states of mind, or even perceptual knowledge. And it is unlikely to fit what psychologists describe as ‘core knowledge’ (the kind of fundamental understanding of the workings of the physical and social world that infants bring into the learning situation), or acquired knowledge of categories, for example. Moving beyond the human case, the analysis doesn’t seem to capture adequately talk of knowledge in connection with some of the cognitive abilities manifested by nonhuman animals.

The aim of “Kinds of Knowledge” is to generate interdisciplinary discussion on varieties or types knowledge that are of interest to philosophers, psychologists, linguists, and anthropologists (among others). We encourage contributions that discuss specific types of knowledge that appear to defy traditional epistemological analyses, as well as ones that revisit traditional distinctions pertaining to different ways of knowing in light of new research and insights. Below are examples of potential topics (in no particular order):

  • ‘animal’ vs. ‘reflective’ human knowledge
  • theoretical knowledge that vs. practical knowledge how
  • knowledge who, what, where
  • knowledge of other minds (incl. ‘theory’-theory vs. simulation theory vs. …)
  • self-knowledge
  • ‘minimal’ knowledge (as merely true belief)
  • the acquisition and development of epistemic notions and competence
  • observational vs. inferential; perceptual knowledge
  • ethical, mathematical, religious, … knowledge – knowledge by description vs. knowledge by acquaintance
  • knowing vs. ‘cognizing’* (*Chomsky’s term for speakers’ cognitive relation to the rules of their language)
  • empirical vs. conceptual knowledge, aposteriori vs. apriori knowledge
  • animal knowledge of ‘affordances’
  • ‘immediate’ vs. inferential vs. testimonial knowledge
  • metacognition

Communication, Context, Conversation

ECOM will host its 6th annual workshop at UConn on May 3-4, 2019 (MCHU/Laurel 305), titled “Communication, Context, Conversation.” The workshop will bring together researchers working on the pragmatics, linguistic analysis, and comparative and developmental psychology of communication and conversation. The event has been posted on PhilEvents.

Invited speakers include:

Robyn Carston (Linguistics, UCL)
Danielle Matthews (Psychology, Sheffield)
Anne Bezuidenhout (Philosophy and Linguistics, U of SC)
Mandy Simons (Linguistics, CMU)
Federico Roassano (Cognitive Science, UCSD)

Also on the program:

Ruth Millikan (Philosophy, UConn)
Mitch Green (Philosophy, UConn)
Dorit Bar-On (Philosophy, UConn)

Invited participants include:

Paul Bloomfield (Philosophy, UConn)
Mark Jary (Linguistics, Roehampton)
Stefan Kaufmann (Linguistics, UConn)
Bill Lycan (Philosophy, UConn)
Craige Roberts (Linguistics, OSU)
Lionel Shapiro (Philosophy, UConn)
William Snyder (Linguistics, UConn)
Zoltan Szabo (Mathematics, Yale)
Catherine Wearing (Philosophy, Wellesley)

Registration is open. The workshop poster (which includes a tentative schedule) can be found on the registration page.

This conference has been made possible in part due to generous support from the UConn Philosophy Department, the UConn Humanities Institute, the Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences, the University of Connecticut’s Provost Office, and UConn’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences


Emotions and Expressions

On April 20-21, ECOM hosted its 5th annual workshop titled “Emotions and Expressions.” The workshop brought together researchers working on the nature of emotions and their development (including their social and moral significance), and on the varieties of emotional expressions (both linguistic and nonlinguistic) in humans and nonhuman animals.

Invited speakers included:

Maria Botero (Philosophy, Sam Houston State)
Ross Buck (Communications/Psychology, UConn)
Maria Coppola (Linguistics/Psychology, UConn)
Jennifer Fugate (Phychology, UMass Dartmouth)
Maria Gendron (Psychology, Northeastern)
Andrea Scarantino (Philosophy, Georgia State)
James Sias (Philosophy, Dickinson)
Somogy Varga (Philosophy, Memphis)

Contributed papers included:

Richard Dub (Philosophy, Rutgers)
Gina Eickers (Philosophy, Berlin School of Mind and Brain)
Arina Pismenny (Philosophy, CUNY)
Razia Sahi (Philosophy, UCLA)

See the schedule here.


Human and Nonhuman Animals: Minds and Morals

On May 11-13, ECOM held its fourth annual conference on the UConn-Storrs campus. The conference was titled “Human and Nonhuman Animals: Minds and Morals.” This conference brought together researchers working on continuities and discontinuities in human and nonhuman cognition, emotions, social organization, and morally relevant behavior, as well as researchers working on the humane treatment of nonhuman animals. 

This conference was made possible with generous support from the UConn Philosophy Department, the UConn Humanities Institute, and the Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences

Invited speakers included:

Peter Carruthers (Philosophy, Maryland)
Katherine Cronin (Lincoln Park Zoo)
Hans-Johann Glock (Philosophy, Zurich)
Lori Gruen (Philosophy, Wesleyan)
William D. Hopkins (Neuroscience, Yerkes National Primate Research Center)
Kristin Leimgruber (Psychology, Harvard)
Darcia Narvaez (Psychology, Notre Dame)

Contributed papers included:

Gary Comstock & William Bauer (Philosophy, NC State)
Nicolas Delon & Duncan Purves (Environmental Studies, NYU)
Kelsey Gipe (Philosophy, Maryland)

See the schedule here.


What’s in a Word?

On December 2-3, ECOM held its fourth annual conference on the UConn-Storrs campus. The conference was titled “What’s in a Word?”

Invited speakers included:

Elika Bergelson (Psychology, Duke)
Laurence R. Horn (Linguistics, Yale)
William G. Lycan (Philosophy, UConn)
Ruth Millikan (Philosophy, UConn)
Letitia Naigels (Psychology, UConn)
Irene Pepperberg (The Alex Foundation, Harvard)

This workshop was made possible in part due to generous funding from the Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences.


Expressive Language: Semantics, Pragmatics, and Origins

On November 19-20, 2015 ECOM hosted the “Expressive Language: Semantics, Pragmatics, and Origins” workshop.

Invited speakers included:

Timothy Jay (Psychology, Massachusetts College)
Anna Papfragou (Psychology, Delaware)
Dean Pettit (Philosophy, UNC-Chapel Hill)
Ljiljana Progovac (Linguistics, Wayne State)
Mark Richard (Philosophy, Harvard)

This workshop was made possible in part due to generous funding from the Connecticut Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences.


What’s the Point? Pointing and Gestural Communication

On March 6-8 of the same year, ECOM also hosted a conference titled “What’s the Point? Pointing and Gestural Communication.”

Invited speakers included:

Kadir Gokgoz (Linguistics, UConn)
David Leavens (Psychology, Sussex)
Heidi Lyn (Psychology, University of Southern Mississippi)
Richard Moore (Berlin School of Mind and Brain)
Şeyda Özçalışkan (Psychology, Georgia State University)
Axel Seemann (Philosophy, Bentley University)
With opening remarks by Diane Lillo-Martin (Linguistics, UConn)

This workshop was made possible in part due to generous funding from the UConn Humanities Institute and the UConn Cognitive Science Program.

Earlier ECOM-related Workshops


A workshop titled “Making Meaning: Origins of Communication” was hosted by the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences on April 18-20, 2013. To view the conference website, click here.

On January 11-12 of the same year, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill hosted a conference titled “Mindreading, Understanding, and Emotion.”  This conference was co-sponsored by ECOM and UNC’s Cognitive Science Program. To view the conference website, click here.


A workshop on Protolanguage was hosted by the University of Virginia on March 30-31 of 2012.

Workshop Keynote: Ruth Millikan (Philosophy, University of Connecticut)

Keynote Commentator: Karen Neander (Philosophy, Duke University)

Other workshop participants included:

Dorit Bar-On (Philosophy, UNC-Chapel Hill)
Erica Cartmill (Psychology, University of Chicago)
Brady Clark (Linguistics, Northwestern University)
Robin Clark (Linguistics, University of Pennsylvania)
Bruno Galantucci (Psychology, Yeshiva University)
Mitchell Green (Philosophy, University of Virginia)
Steven Gross (Philosophy, Johns Hopkins University)
Dean Pettit (Philosophy, UNC-Chapel Hill)
Gualtiero Piccinini (Philosophy, University of Missouri-St. Louis)
Ljiljana Progovac (English, Wayne State University)
Andrea Scarantino (Philosophy, Georgia State University)