Group Coordinator: Ricardo Santos
The main aim of the LanCog Group is to carry out high quality research on central philosophical problems about the nature of language, mind and cognition.
Our activity is guided by the standards of analytic philosophy, a tradition whose distinctive traits are the clarity and rigour deployed in formulating problems and arguments, and the focus on public discussion and critical examination of ideas.
Our research covers topics on Philosophy of Language, Logic and Philosophical Logic, Philosophy of Mind and Epistemology, and also with related issues in adjacent domains like Metaphysics and Metaethics, as well as issues in the intersection of Philosophy and other disciplines in the multidisciplinary field of Cognitive Science, such as Computer Science, Linguistics, Cognitive Psychology and Neuroscience.
The history of LanCog can be traced to the early nineties, when João Branquinho came back from his doctoral studies at Oxford, as he began to put together a number of informal meetings that would eventually become the Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy.
Among the early regular attendants were M. S. Lourenço, João Branquinho, António Franco Alexandre, Adriana Silva Graça, António Zilhão, Fernando Ferreira, João Sàágua, Teresa Marques, Pedro Santos, Ricardo Santos, Pedro Galvão, António Branco, Desidério Murcho, Sara Bizarro, Ana Domingues, Miguel Fonseca, Luís Bettencourt, João Paulo Monteiro, and António Lopes, and, later, Célia Teixeira, Aires Almeida, Isabel Góis and Fernando Janeiro.
The first meeting took place in May 1991 at the Faculty of Letters of the University of Lisbon in Anfiteatro II. Timothy Williamson read a paper titled “The early history of the Sorites paradoxes”, later published in Argumento III (5/6): 35-44 (1993). The talk is mentioned in Williamson’s Preface to his Vagueness (1994: xiii). Williamson gave a second lecture at the Portuguese Philosophical Society (SPF), “Inexact Knowledge”. Both venues would be kept for future gatherings.
Throughout the decade, the activities of the informal group would merge with those of the Master’s in Philosophy of Language and Consciousness, and with those of the SPF project Glossário Lógico-Filosófico (1994-1998). The latter would culminate in the publication of the Enciclopédia de Termos Lógico-Filosóficos (Gradiva, 2001).
Disputatio was founded in 1996 by João Branquinho and published by SPF until 2002. Former editors include M. S. Lourenço, Fernando Ferreira and João Branquinho. Teresa Marques joined the latter as co-editor in 2008, and edited the journal together with Célia Teixeira from 2014 to 2017. Desidério Murcho served as editorial assistant for about 10 years. As of 2017, the journal is jointly edited by Ricardo Santos and Elia Zardini.
In 1998, Hilary Putnam delivered the first Petrus Hispanus Lectures. Putnam would be followed by Richard Jeffrey (2000), Ned Block (2003), Daniel Dennett (2004), David Kaplan (2006), Tyler Burge (2009), Timothy Williamson (2012), Susan Carey (2014), and David Chalmers (2016).
In 2002, the group joined the Centre of Philosophy of the University of Lisbon and finally became known as LanCog – Language, Mind and Cognition.
The Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy (SFA, Seminário de Filosofia Analítica) was officially established in 2002-2003. Here is an early poster from 2000.
LanCog has since hosted the projects Enciclopédia de Termos Lógico-Filosóficos: Nova Edição (2002-2005; Martins Fontes, 2006), On Content (2005-2008), Varieties of Truth, Varieties of Realism (with LOGOS, 2010-2011), Contextualism, Relativism and Practical Conflicts and Disagreement (2011-2014) and Online Companion to Problems in Analytic Philosophy (2012-2015).
To this day, ECAP 5, the 5th European Congress for Analytic Philosophy (2005), stands out among the great many events organized and supported by the group.
LanCog played a role in the setting up of the inter-faculty postgraduate programme in Cognitive Science. In 1998, the group had mostly organized the conference The Foundations of Cognitive Science at the End of the Century, and also, together with the New University of Lisbon, the 7th Annual Meeting of the European Society for Philosophy and Psychology. In the sequel, talks by Hélder Coelho, António Branco and the late Frederico Marques at the Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy in 2003-04 prompted the exchanges between the three and João Branquinho that would lead to the creation of the programme in 2007.
In 2015, João Branquinho handed the coordination over to Ricardo Santos and Adriana Silva Graça.
The group still meets every Friday at 4 pm for the LanCog Seminar and the Seminar Series, now under the sole leadership of Ricardo Santos since 2016. May he enjoy as much success as his predecessor.