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Paul Thagard is Professor of Philosophy, with cross appointment to Psychology and Computer Science, and Director of the Cognitive Science Program, at the University of Waterloo. He is a graduate of the Universities of Saskatchewan, Cambridge, Toronto (Ph.D. in philosophy, 1977) and Michigan (M.S. in computer science, 1985). He is the author of:
- Hot Thought: Mechanisms and Applications of Emotional Cognition (MIT Press, August, 2006, ISBN 0-262-20164-X)
- Coherence in Thought and Action (Bradford Book, 2000, ISBN 0-262-20131-3)
- How Scientists Explain Disease (Princeton University Press, 1999, ISBN 0-691-00261-4)
- Mind: An Introduction to Cognitive Science (MIT Press, 1996; second edition, 2005, ISBN 0-262-20154-2)(Trad. esp.: La mente, Buenos Aires/Madrid, Katz editores S.A, 2008, ISBN 9788496859210)
- Conceptual Revolutions (Princeton University Press, 1992, ISBN 0-691-02490-1)
- Computational Philosophy of Science (MIT Press, 1988, Bardford Book, 1993, ISBN 0-262-70048-4)
And co-author of:
- Mental Leaps: Analogy in Creative Thought (MIT Press, 1995, ISBN 0-262-08233-0)
- Induction: Processes of Inference, Learning, and Discovery (MIT Press, 1986, Bardford Book, 1989, ISBN 0-262-58096-9)
He is also editor of:
- Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science (North-Holland, 2006, ISBN 0-444-51540-2).
He was Chair of the Governing Board of the Cognitive Science Society , 1998-1999, and President of the Society for Machines and Mentality , 1997-1998. He has held a Canada Council Killam fellowship, and in 1999 was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. In 2003, he received a University of Waterloo Award for Excellence in Research, and in 2005 he was named a University Research Chair.
Thagard (together with Karsten Verbeurgt) put forth a particular formalization of the concept of coherence as a constraint satisfaction problem. The model posits that coherence operates over a set of representational elements (e.g., propositions, images, etc.) which can either fit together (cohere) or resist fitting together (incohere).
If two elements p and q cohere they are connected by a positive constraint $ (p,q) \in C^+ $, and if two elements $ p $ and $ q $ incohere they are connected by a negative constraint $ (p,q) \in C^- $. Furthermore, constraints are weighted, i.e., for each constraint $ (p,q) \in C^+ \cup C^- $ there is a positive weight $ w(p,q) $.
According to Thagard, coherence maximization involves the partitioning of elements into accepted ($ A $) and rejected ($ R $) elements in such a way that maximum number (or maximum weight) of constraints is satisfied. Here a positive constraint $ (p, q) $ is said to be satisfied if either both $ p $ and $ q $ are accepted ($ p, q \in A $) or both $ p $ and $ q $ are rejected ($ p, q \in R $). A negative constraint $ (p,q) $ is satisfied if one element is accepted(say $ p \in A $), and the other rejected ($ q \in R $).
- Thagard, P. and Verbeurgt, K. (1998). Coherence as constraint satisfaction. Cognitive Science, 22: 1-24.
- Thagard, P. (2000). Coherence in Thought and Action. MIT Press.
- Thaghard, P (1978). The best explanation. Criteria for theory choice. Journal of philosophy, 75, 76-92
- Thaghard, P (1992). Conceptual revolutions. NJ. Princeton University Press.
Many of Thagard's coherence articles are available online at http://cogsci.uwaterloo.ca/Articles/Pages/Coherence.html
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