I am a cognitive scientist pursuing both theoretical and empirical research. I’m based at the Institute for Logic Cognition Language & Information, at the University of The Basque Country.
Humans are similar to other great apes in many ways. Yet, the few differences that do exist combine with each another to generate languages, rituals, institutions, technologies, markets and other cultural and societal phenomena. How and why does this happen? This is the broad question that governs my teaching, research and thinking.
I am especially focused on the case of languages and communication. My first book, Speaking Our Minds, links signalling theory from evolutionary biology with cognitive pragmatics, to argue that intention-reading (or mindreading) has been primary to the evolution of human communication. Language use is not something apart from other modes of human communication and expression, but rather the most salient special case, with its own distinctive and important properties. See here for details and reviews.
I’ve written short pieces for outlets such as Aeon, Scientific American, The Conversation; and I’ve given public talks for TEDx, British Humanist Association, Skeptics In The Pub, Digital Science and others. In my spare time I dance the lindy hop, avidly.
On twitter I’m @tscottphillips.