The goal of the Center for the Study of Mind in Nature (CSMN) is to understand the characteristic features of human minds and their place in nature.
On the one hand, human beings are natural, biological beings, subject to laws of nature.
On the other hand, they are capable of acting rationally, morally and of using language to communicate and think.
In its attempt to understand the mind and its place in nature, CSMN will focus on central mental capacities as expressed in (1) rational, (2) linguistic and (3) moral actions.
Rational, linguistic and moral agency are all forms of rule-governed activities. Rules and norms differ from natural laws in that they can be violated, but nevertheless give rise to obligation.
Human beings naturally care deeply about these prescriptive or normative features of human agency. But as science reveals more and more about our physical nature it becomes pressing to show how they can be squared with a view of human beings inspired by the natural sciences.
Understanding human normativity is therefore crucial to understanding the human mind as a natural phenomenon.
An Interdisciplinary Approach
The Centre's naturalization project lies at the interface between philosophy and empirical approaches to rational, moral and linguistic actions, and requires an interdisciplinary approach. CSMN therefore brings together scientists and philosophers to investigate normative features of human agency.
In its attempt to understand normative features of human agency in a naturalistic fashion, the Centre takes specific research questions in fields like psychology, economy and linguistics as its starting point.