About Me

I study the nature of mental representation from an empirically informed philosophical perspective. A good deal of my work has focused on analog magnitude representations, which a wide range of animals (including humans) use to represent worldly magnitudesаsuchаas numerosity, duration, rate, distance, and size. In a series of articles I have argued that analog magnitude representations have an analog format, nonconceptual contents, and are sometimes cognitive rather than merely perceptual. I have also argued that they illustrate how sophisticated behavior can be explained in representational and computational terms without being explained in conceptual or linguistic terms.а

Among the other issues I have written about or am currently investigating are:а

  • Whether sensory experience is analog
  • Whether nonhuman animals have a language of thought
  • Whether attention alters conscious perceptionа
  • The nature and extent of indeterminacy in our attributions of mental states to nonhuman animals
  • How, precisely, the language-of-thought hypothesis differs from neo-Fregean accounts of thought and concepts
  • How concept learning is possible
  • How to mark the perception–cognition boundary
  • How attention, consciousness, and representation interrelate

I’m an Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at York University, where I’m also a member of the Cognitive Science Program and the Centre for Vision Research. Before coming to York in the summer of 2012, I taught in the Department of Philosophy at Texas Tech University and served as a James S. McDonnell Postdoctoral Fellow in the Philosophy-Neuroscience-Psychology Program at Washington University in Saint Louis.аIn 2015, I was a Fellow of theаAmerican Council of Learned Societies.аI earned my Ph.D. from theаHarvardаPhilosophy Department for a dissertation on the structure of cognition, and my B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, where I majored in philosophy and minored in cognitive science. аIn between I taught English for Language House on the island of Shikoku in Japan.

Forаthe 2016-2017 academic yearаI am on sabbatical.

jbeck [at] yorku.ca ай Jacob Beck 2013