Personal Information

David Colaço is a postdoctoral fellow at LMU Munich. He received his PhD from the Department of History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. He also received graduate certification from the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition. He received his BA in Philosophy from Rutgers University.

Research Interests

David works at the intersection of history and philosophy of science, philosophy of cognitive science, and philosophy of neuroscience. He is currently working on a DFG project (Project Number 528370787) on “Three methodological problems in memory science.” This project addresses the philosophical dimensions of current controversies in memory science, which links the psychology of memory to its physical basis. Memory science is in an exciting state of flux, resulting from a series of provocative studies and setbacks in the dominant paradigm. The primary objective of this project is to resolve three related problems that contribute to this state of flux. First, what phenomena can be demonstrated? This is the demonstration problem. Second, where can the physical basis of memory be located? This is the localization problem. Third, by what set of criteria can memory be distinguished from non-memory? This is the demarcation problem. Together, these heretofore unresolved problems suggest that memory might depart from intuitive, scientific, and philosophical notions. With this, these problems challenge widely accepted commitments and paradigmatic success stories in cognitive science and neuroscience, as scientific study of the mind and brain long has been directed by insights about memory. At their cores, these problems are manifestations of topics in philosophy of science. They each concern a dimension of how the targets of scientific investigation are determined. For this reason, the proposed project adopts the stance that traction on resolving these problems and therefore settling these controversies can be made by philosophically analyzing memory science and its current state of flux. However, this project will do more than only settle existing controversies in memory science. These outcomes will also supply new insights into classic problems in philosophy of science. Further, these insights will have a firm basis in the realities of the scientific practice, its history, and its future. These insights will serve as a basis for informing naturalistic philosophical accounts that appeal to memory, including in epistemology, personal identity, and ethics.

David is also interested in scientific reasoning. He focuses on cases in which these forms of reasoning might be flawed, and he explores the epistemic and ethical ramifications of potentially flawed reasoning. In his research, he integrates cognitive science research on biases, philosophical models of scientific reasoning, and analyses of cases from the history of science.

Selected Publications

  1. Colaço, D. & Najenson, J.: Where memory resides: is there a rivalry between synaptic and molecular models of memory? Philosophy of Science(forthcoming).
  2. Colaço, D.: When remediating one artifact results in another: Control, confounders, and correction. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 46(5) (2024).
  3. Colaço, D.: Connecting unconventional cognition to humans: Unification and generativity. JoLMA 4(2): 1-16 (2023).
  4. Colaço, D. & Robins, S.: Why have “revolutionary” tools found purchase in memory science? Philosophy and the Mind Sciences, 4: (2023).
  5. Colaço, D.: Why studying plant cognition is valuable, even if plants aren’t cognitive. Synthese 200(453): (2022).
  6. Colaço, D., Bickle, J. & Walters, B.: When should researchers cite study differences in response to a failure to replicate?Biology and Philosophy 39(37): (2022).
  7. Colaço, D.: What counts as a memory? Definitions, hypotheses, and “kinding in progress”.Philosophy of Science 89(1): 89-106 (2022).
  8. Colaço, D.: Recharacterizing scientific phenomena.European Journal for Philosophy of Science 10, 14: (2020).
  9. Colaço, D.: Rip it up and start again: The rejection of a characterization of a phenomenon.Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 72: 32-40 (2018).
  10. Colaço, D.: Rethinking the role of theory in exploratory experimentation. Biology and Philosophy 33(5-6): 33-38 (2018).