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"The innovative application of semantically- and ontologically-based methods to data mining and knowledge exploration in complex scientific domains requires a thorough understanding of formal logic and semantics, philosophy of language, and cognitive philosophy (including metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of science) – fields that are a core part of good philosophy programs at both the undergraduate and graduate levels."

— Dr. Gary H. Merrill, Director, Semantic Technologies Group, GlaxoSmithKline, 2003-2010



Programs and Courses

The Logic and Cognitive Science Initiative Award

Public Lectures

The Cognitive Science Program




LACSI was established by the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies in Fall 2004 to foster growth and development in the following fields at NC State:

  • Formal Logic.

  • Fields of cognitive philosophy that are closely related to Logic, including Philosophy of Logic, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Language, Theory of Knowledge, Analytical Metaphysics, Formal Ontology, Decision Theory, and Theories of Rationality.

  • Cognitive Science, an exciting new field that is advancing our understanding of mind, cognition, and knowledge acquisition through multi-disciplinary studies in Psychology and Neuroscience, Linguistics and Psycholinguistics, Computer Science, Robotics, and Computational Linguistics, as well as Logic and the Philosophy of Psychology.

Although these fields are very abstract in themselves, they deal with ideas, structures, and methods of reasoning that have significant practical applications. A wide range of students, including many students majoring in STEM disciplines and students who are likely to pursue industry careers in R & D, can expand their horizons and enhance their arsenal of conceptual resources by including a LACSI program or a sequence of LACSI courses in their degrees.

Programs and Courses

The following programs fall under LACSI:

The courses offered by the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies that fall under LACSI are:

LOG 201 Logic

LOG 335 Symbolic Logic

LOG 435/535 Advanced Logic & Metamathematics

LOG 437/537 Model Theoretic Semantics

PHI 210 Representation, Reason & Reality

PHI 330 Metaphysics

PHI 331 Philosophy of Language

PHI 332 Philosophy of Psychology

PHI 333 Knowledge and Skepticism

PHI 340 Philosophy of Science

PHI 425/525 Introduction to Cognitive Science

PHI 440/540 The Scientific Method

PHI 447/547 Philosophy, Evolution & Human Nature

The Logic and Cognitive Science Initiative Award

The Logic and Cognitive Science Initiative Award was introduced in 2008/9. This prize, which includes a cash award, is presented in the spring to the outstanding senior in the BS in Philosophy with a Concentration in Logic, Representation and Reasoning. The award is not made in years in which there is no senior in the program with an appropriately distinguished record. The winners so far have been as follows:

  • 2015: Christopher Becker
  • 2011: Ashley N. Walls
  • 2010: Jay Hodges
  • 2009: Melissa Schumacher


Every two years, LACSI organizes and hosts a conference on a topic within its fields of interest. The next LACSI Conference, which is scheduled for September 22-23, 2017, will be on Higher-Order Cognition.

Previous LACSI Conferences:

Public Lectures

The Logic and Cognitive Science Lecture Series was introduced in Fall 2005, superceding the Cognitive Science Lecture Series, which hosted public lectures by a number of distinguished experts, including Daniel Dennett (Tufts), Fred Dretske (Duke), Jerry Fodor (Rutgers), and George Lakoff (Berkeley) between 2002 and 2005. Speakers in the new series have included Ned Block (NYU), John Doris (Washington St. Louis), Gerd Gigerenzer (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin), Jaegwon Kim (Brown), Joseph Levine (Massachusetts), William Lycan (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), Daniel Povanelli (Louisiana), Teddy Seidenfeld (Carnegie Mellon University), Elizabeth Spelke (Harvard), Stephen Stich (Rutgers), and Stephen Yablo (MIT).

In 2006-2008, LACSI hosted GlaxoSmithKline Lectures on Semantics and Ontology by Cliff Joslyn (Los Alamos National Laboratory) and J. Michael Dunn (Indiana University).

For further information about recent and forthcoming lectures, see Activities and Events in Philosophy.


Between 2004 and 2010, GlaxoSmithKline's Semantic Technologies Group supported LACSI with grants to the value of $157,000. Among other things, these funds supported Undergraduate Internships in Knowledge Exploration with the GSK Semantic Technologies Group, public lectures, LACSI's September 2009 Ontology Conference, publicity, and a student award.  GSK closed the Semantic Technologies Group in February 2010, when Dr. Gary H. Merrill, the Group's Director, retired.


LACSI is administered by the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies under the guidance of the Logic and Cognitive Science Initiative Steering Committee, which is composed as follows:

    John W. Carroll, PhD (Arizona), Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Philosophy Honors Program, and Adviser in the Minor in Logic and Methodology.

    Catherine M. Driscoll, PhD (Rutgers), Associate Professor of Philosophy, Department Director of Undergraduate Advising, and Adviser in the Undergraduate Minor in Cognitive Science.

    Ronald P. Endicott, PhD (Michigan), Associate Professor of Philosophy, Director of the Cognitive Science Program, Adviser in the Graduate Minor in Cognitive Science, and Coordinator of the Logic and Cognitive Science Lecture Series.

    Michael Pendlebury, PhD (Indiana), Professor of Philosophy and Head of the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Committee Chair.


    Cognitive Science Program; Graduate Minor in Cognitive Science; Logic and Cognitive Science Lecture Series: Ron Endicott

    BS in Philosophy with a Concentration in Logic, Representation and Reasoning; Undergraduate Minor in Cognitive Science; General Curriculum Matters: Catherine Driscoll

    Undergraduate Minor in Logic and Methodology: John Carroll

    All Other Matters (including conferences, public relations, and development): Michael Pendlebury