Fred Schmitt

Fred Schmitt

Professor, Philosophy


Research interests

I have had an interest in cognitive science since the beginning of my career. I believe that what cognitive scientists do—methods, experiments, results, theory—is highly pertinent to a lot of philosophy, not least to the branch of philosophy I spend the most time on, epistemology. In my twenty years at the University of Illinois, I was the philosophy faculty member most interested in cognitive science, and I accordingly spent a lot of time in cognitive science related activities, including administrative activities (I was on the Cognitive Science Steering Committee, the Cognitive Science Program Committee, and the Cognitive Science Colloquium Committee for years). I also wrote things in philosophy, especially epistemology, that made use of results from cognitive science. Since coming to IU in 2001, I have actually done less that is related to cognitive science—less in my own research and less in participation in cognitive science activities. This was not due to any change in my attitude to cognitive science, but the consequence of two factors. At the time of my arrival there were two members of the Philosophy Department who were very involved in cognitive science, and so I didn’t need to do as much as I had at Illinois (I have a lot of interests in philosophy that aren’t closely related to cognitive science), and although Andy Clark departed for Edinburgh, Colin Allen’s arrival in HPS brought a highly active and extremely talented philosopher doing cognitive science. Our department is fortunate to have Rosa Cao working in cognitive science. More important than the presence of faculty more involved in cognitive science than I was a shift in my attention to history of philosophy, especially early modern epistemology and metaphysics. What I do there can be regarded as in part prehistory of cognitive science, but the material is less immediately related to what goes on in contemporary cognitive science than work I did earlier in epistemology (such as work on intelligence, curiosity, and testimony). My future plans are almost entirely in the history of philosophy, especially eighteenth century.

Representative publications

Dissertation Committee Service

Author Dissertation Title Committee
Demir, Hilmi Error Comes with Imagination: A Probabilistic Theory of Mental Content (August 2006) Schmitt, F. (Co-Chair), Allen, C. (Co-Chair), O'Connor, T., Weinberg, J.
Harris, Steven Artifacts and Human Cognitive Agency (March 2012) Schmitt, F. (Chair), Rogers, Y., Allen, C., O’Connor, T.
Theiner, Georg From Extened Minds to Group Minds: Rethinking The Boundaries Of The Mental (July 2008) O’Connor, T. (Co-Chair), Goldstone, R. (Co-Chair), Schmitt, R., Weinberg, J.