Paul Thagard

Paul Thagard is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Waterloo, Ontario. He is the author of The Cognitive Science of Science (MIT Press, 2012) and many other books.

  • The Cognitive Science of Science

    The Cognitive Science of Science

    Explanation, Discovery, and Conceptual Change

    Paul Thagard

    A cognitive science perspective on scientific development, drawing on philosophy, psychology, neuroscience, and computational modeling.

    Many disciplines, including philosophy, history, and sociology, have attempted to make sense of how science works. In this book, Paul Thagard examines scientific development from the interdisciplinary perspective of cognitive science. Cognitive science combines insights from researchers in many fields: philosophers analyze historical cases, psychologists carry out behavioral experiments, neuroscientists perform brain scans, and computer modelers write programs that simulate thought processes.

    Thagard develops cognitive perspectives on the nature of explanation, mental models, theory choice, and resistance to scientific change, considering disbelief in climate change as a case study. He presents a series of studies that describe the psychological and neural processes that have led to breakthroughs in science, medicine, and technology. He shows how discoveries of new theories and explanations lead to conceptual change, with examples from biology, psychology, and medicine. Finally, he shows how the cognitive science of science can integrate descriptive and normative concerns; and he considers the neural underpinnings of certain scientific concepts.

    • Hardcover $9.75 £6.95
    • Paperback $25.00 £20.00
  • Hot Thought

    Hot Thought

    Mechanisms and Applications of Emotional Cognition

    Paul Thagard

    Contrary to standard assumptions, reasoning is often an emotional process. Emotions can have good effects, as when a scientist gets excited about a line of research and pursues it successfully despite criticism. But emotions can also distort reasoning, as when a juror ignores evidence of guilt just because the accused seems like a nice guy. In Hot Thought, Paul Thagard describes the mental mechanisms—cognitive, neural, molecular, and social—that interact to produce different kinds of human thinking, from everyday decision making to legal reasoning, scientific discovery, and religious belief, and he discusses when and how thinking and reasoning should be emotional.

    Thagard argues that an understanding of emotional thinking needs to integrate the cognitive, neural, molecular, and social levels. Many of the chapters employ computational models of various levels of thinking, including HOTCO (hot cognition) models and the more neurologically realistic GAGE model. Thagard uses these models to illuminate thinking in the domains of law, science, and religion, discussing such topics as the role of doubt and reasonable doubt in legal and other contexts, valuable emotional habits for successful scientists, and the emotional content of religious beliefs. Identifying and assessing the impact of emotion, Thagard argues, can suggest ways to improve the process of reasoning.

    • Hardcover $37.00 £25.95
    • Paperback $5.75 £4.99
  • Mind, Second Edition

    Mind, Second Edition

    Introduction to Cognitive Science

    Paul Thagard

    Cognitive science approaches the study of mind and intelligence from an interdisciplinary perspective, working at the intersection of philosophy, psychology, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology. With Mind, Paul Thagard offers an introduction to this interdisciplinary field for readers who come to the subject with very different backgrounds. It is suitable for classroom use by students with interests ranging from computer science and engineering to psychology and philosophy.

    Thagard's systematic descriptions and evaluations of the main theories of mental representation advanced by cognitive scientists allow students to see that there are many complementary approaches to the investigation of mind. The fundamental theoretical perspectives he describes include logic, rules, concepts, analogies, images, and connections (artificial neural networks). The discussion of these theories provides an integrated view of the different achievements of the various fields of cognitive science.

    This second edition includes substantial revision and new material. Part I, which presents the different theoretical approaches, has been updated in light of recent work the field. Part II, which treats extensions to cognitive science, has been thoroughly revised, with new chapters added on brains, emotions, and consciousness. Other additions include a list of relevant Web sites at the end of each chapter and a glossary at the end of the book. As in the first edition, each chapter concludes with a summary and suggestions for further reading.

    • Hardcover $75.00 £51.95
    • Paperback $42.00 £33.00
  • Coherence in Thought and Action

    Coherence in Thought and Action

    Paul Thagard

    This book is an essay on how people make sense of each other and the world they live in. Making sense is the activity of fitting something puzzling into a coherent pattern of mental representations that include concepts, beliefs, goals, and actions. Paul Thagard proposes a general theory of coherence as the satisfaction of multiple interacting constraints, and discusses the theory's numerous psychological and philosophical applications. Much of human cognition can be understood in terms of coherence as constraint satisfaction, and many of the central problems of philosophy can be given coherence-based solutions. Thagard shows how coherence can help to unify psychology and philosophy, particularly when addressing questions of epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, politics, and aesthetics. He also shows how coherence can integrate cognition and emotion.

    • Hardcover $62.50
    • Paperback $28.00 £22.00
  • Mind Readings

    Mind Readings

    Introductory Selections on Cognitive Science

    Paul Thagard

    Mind Readings is a collection of accessible readings on some of the most important topics in cognitive science. Although anyone interested in the interdisciplinary study of mind will find the selections well worth reading, they work particularly well with Paul Thagard's textbook Mind: An Introduction Cognitive Science, and provide further discussion on the major topics discussed in that book. The first eight chapters present approaches to cognitive science from the perspective that thinking consists of computational procedures on mental representations. The remaining five chapters discuss challenges to the computational-representational understanding of mind.

    Contributors John R. Anderson, Ruth M.J. Byrne, E.H. Durfee, Chris Eliasmith, Owen Flanagan, Dedre Gentner, Janice Glasgow, Philip N. Johnson-Laird, Alan Mackworth, Arthur B. Markman, Douglas L. Medin, Keith Oatley, Dimitri Papadias, Steven Pinker, David E. Rumelhart, Herbert A. Simon.

    • Paperback $38.00 £30.00
  • Mind


    Introduction to Cognitive Science

    Paul Thagard

    Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of mind and intelligence, embracing psychology, philosophy, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, linguistics, and anthropology. Paul Thagard's accessible, concise, and integrated text presupposes no special preparation in any of these fields. Thagard systematically describes and evaluates the main computational theories of mental representation that have been advocated by cognitive scientists, including logic, rules, concepts, analogies, images, and connections (neural networks). He considers the major challenges to the computational-representational view of mind and discusses emotions, consciousness, physical and social environments, dynamical systems, and mathematical knowledge. Teaching cognitive science is difficult, Thagard observes, because students come to this multidisciplinary subject with widely different competencies, backgrounds, and interests. Mind solves this dilemma by making logic comprehensible to psychology students, computer algorithms comprehensible to English students, and philosophical controversies comprehensible to computer science students. Each chapter concludes with helpful summaries, discussion questions, and suggestions for further reading. Mind is ideal for introductory courses on Cognitive Science, and is also useful as a supplement to courses on cognitive psychology, educational psychology, philosophy of mind, and artificial intelligence. A Bradford Book

    • Hardcover $38.00 £24.95
  • Mental Leaps

    Mental Leaps

    Analogy in Creative Thought

    Keith J. Holyoak and Paul Thagard

    Analogy—recalling familiar past situations to deal with novel ones—is a mental tool that everyone uses. Analogy can provide invaluable creative insights, but it can also lead to dangerous errors. In Mental Leaps two leading cognitive scientists show how analogy works and how it can be used most effectively. Keith Holyoak and Paul Thagard provide a unified, comprehensive account of the diverse operations and applications of analogy, including problem solving, decision making, explanation, and communication.

    Holyoak and Thagard present their own theory of analogy, considering its implications for cognitive science in general, and survey examples from many other domains. These include animal cognition, developmental and social psychology, political science, philosophy, history of science, anthropology, and literature.

    Understanding how we draw analogies is important for people interested in the evolution of thinking in animals and in children; for those whose focus is on either creative thinking or errors of everyday reasoning; for those concerned with how decisions are made in law, business, and politics; and for those striving to improve education. Mental Leaps covers all of this ground, emphasizing the principles that govern the use of analogy and keeping technical matters to a minimum.

    A Bradford Book

    • Hardcover $24.95
    • Paperback $40.00 £30.00
  • Computational Philosophy of Science

    Computational Philosophy of Science

    Paul Thagard

    By applying research in artificial intelligence to problems in the philosophy of science, Paul Thagard develops an exciting new approach to the study of scientific reasoning. This approach uses computational ideas to shed light on how scientific theories are discovered, evaluated, and used in explanations. Thagard describes a detailed computational model of problem solving and discovery that provides a conceptually rich yet rigorous alternative to accounts of scientific knowledge based on formal logic, and he uses it to illuminate such topics as the nature of concepts, hypothesis formation, analogy, and theory justification.

    • Hardcover $35.00
    • Paperback $25.00 £20.00
  • Induction


    Processes Of Inference

    John H. Holland, Keith J. Holyoak, Richard E. Nisbett, and Paul Thagard

    Two psychologists, a computer scientist, and a philosopher have collaborated to present a framework for understanding processes of inductive reasoning and learning in organisms and machines. Theirs is the first major effort to bring the ideas of several disciplines to bear on a subject that has been a topic of investigation since the time of Socrates. The result is an integrated account that treats problem solving and induction in terms of rule­based mental models.

    Induction is included in the Computational Models of Cognition and Perception Series.

    A Bradford Book.

    • Hardcover $42.00
    • Paperback $38.00 £30.00


  • Grounding Social Sciences in Cognitive Sciences

    Grounding Social Sciences in Cognitive Sciences

    Ron Sun

    Exploration of a new integrative intellectual enterprise: the cognitive social sciences.

    Research in the cognitive sciences has advanced significantly in recent decades. Computational cognitive modeling has profoundly changed the ways in which we understand cognition. Empirical research has progressed as well, offering new insights into many psychological phenomena. This book investigates the possibility of exploiting the successes of the cognitive sciences to establish a better foundation for the social sciences, including the disciplines of sociology, anthropology, economics, and political science. The result may be a new, powerful, integrative intellectual enterprise: the cognitive social sciences.

    The book treats a range of topics selected to capture issues that arise across the social sciences, covering computational, empirical, and theoretical approaches. The chapters, by leading scholars in both the cognitive and the social sciences, explore the relationship between cognition and society, including such issues as methodologies of studying cultural differences; the psychological basis of politics (for instance, the role of emotion and the psychology of moral choices); cognitive dimensions of religion; cognitive approaches to economics; meta-theoretical questions on the possibility of the unification of social and cognitive sciences. Combining depth and breadth, the book encourages fruitful interdisciplinary interaction across many fields.

    • Hardcover $53.00 £41.00