Mason Cash

Mason Cash, Ph.D.

Biography

Mason Cash is originally from Gisborne, New Zealand. He moved to Canada in 1995 to do a Ph. D. in philosophy at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, AB. Before coming to the University of Central Florida in 2003, he taught for three years at Dalhousie University in Halifax, NS, Canada.

Education

  • Ph.D. in Philosophy from University of Alberta (2000)

Research Interests

  • Philosophy of cognitive science
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Philosophy of language
  • Ethics

Recent Research Activities

Dr. Cash's research revolves around the thesis that human beings are fundamentally members of normative communities. The core of his research program is the thesis that all entities that are held to have meaning (including utterances, actions, images, texts, and neurological representations) are constituted as meaningful by virtue of the role they play in human normative practices; in particular, the practice of ascribing intentional states as reasons for actions. He focuses on the implications of this thesis for our accounts of language, of cognition, and of what it means to be a human being.


Selected Publications

Articles/Essays

  • Mason Cash, 2013. Cognition without borders: 'Third wave' socially distributed cognition and relational autonomy. Cognitive Systems Research. Volumes 25–26, December 2013, Pages 61–71  http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cogsys.2013.03.007 
  • Mason Cash 2010. Extended cognition, personal responsibility, and relational autonomy. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9: 645–671.
  • Cash, M. 2009. Normativity is the mother of intention: Wittgenstein, normative practices and neurological representations. New Ideas in Psychology 27: 133-147
  • Cash, M. 2008. The normativity problem: Evolution and naturalized semantics. The Journal of Mind and Behavior 29 (1-2).
  • Cash, M. 2008. Thoughts and oughts. Philosophical Explorations 11 (2): 93-119.

Awards

Dr Cash won a UCF Teaching Incentive Program Award, for excellence in teaching in 2009 and again in 2017.

Activities

Dr. Cash teaches courses in Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Science, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Philosophy, Metaphysics, and Ethics, among other things.

Courses

Course Number Course Title Mode Date and Time Syllabus
10691 PHI2010H Honors Intro to Philosophy Face to Face Instruction (P) Tu,Th 01:30 PM - 02:45 PM Unavailable

Philosophy courses explore different perspectives on deep and important questions. They also develop important skills, which are applicable in many areas of life.  Through active participation in this course, you will improve your skills in:

·  Understanding viewpoints different from your own

·  Clearly explaining your views

·  Clearly and charitably explaining views different from your own

·  Critically assessing the reasons you and others have for holding those views

·  Being convincing in defending your viewpoints as reasonable

This course aims to develop these philosophical skills through critically reading, analyzing, discussing, and writing about classic and contemporary philosophical issues, questions and debates.  During this course we will explore different approaches to questions such as:

·  What is a good way to live one's life? Is there a best way?

·  What would a just society be like?  Is it even possible?

·  What can we know?  What does it take to “know” something?

·  What is a person? Could a non-human be one?

The aim of the course is not merely to learn about what philosophers have thought about questions like these, but to do philosophy using philosophers' approaches to such questions as starting points. 

By the end of this course, you should have your own answers to many of these questions, and should be able to explain your reasons for holding those views.

This course is an opportunity for you to think for yourselves, to examine and critically assess approaches to problems, and to defend ideas and positions of your own.  The course, therefore, will require you to participate rather than simply take information in.  You will read actively, and will be expected to reflect on what you read. You will also be given many opportunities to discuss with others, both verbally and in writing, your thoughts about the readings, questions and issues we cover.

Required Textbook

The World of Philosophy (WP) Steven M. Cahn (Oxford University Press).    

19053 PHI3930H Hon Special Topic Face to Face Instruction (P) Tu,Th 03:00 PM - 04:15 PM Unavailable

This is an interdisciplinary course exploring human-centered technology, what it means to be human in an age of such technology, and the social and ethical ramifications of ubiquitous technology. 

We will bring together a variety of different resources from many disciplines cutting across the cognitive sciences (e.g., philosophy, psychology, engineering, computer science).  Additionally, we may incorporate guest speakers to broaden the interdisciplinary dialogue. 

Across these readings we will explore two major themes: (1) Technology and Humanity and (2) Ethics and Technology. 

Guiding us through these themes will be a set of questions, designed to help students see the connections across the varied disciplines from which we will be reading.

Technology and Humanity

·       How does the design of technology affect the relationship(s) people have with technology, with one another, and with their environments?

·       Is a defining characteristic of humanity the human-technology symbiosis and have we always been “natural born cyborgs”?

·       In what ways does changing our technology change how we live, what we can do, and the worlds in which we live? 

·       Does our technology also change us?

·       Where are we headed as humans and what does it mean to be “human” in an age of pervasive technology?

·       What are the benefits and dangers of different forms of “transhumanism”?

·       What can we learn from depictions of technological utopias and dystopias in fiction (e.g., novels, films, videogames, poetry, and other artistic depiction) about ethical, environmental, social and political implications of different views of technology and its relationship(s) to persons?

Ethics and Technology

·       Does anyone direct the symbiotic process between humans and technology?

·       How should this symbiotic process be directed, or can it even be directed?

·       What roles should concerns about ethics and justice play in this process? 

·       What are the appropriate relationships between questions of design of technology and questions about what humans are and what humans should be?

·       What are the ethical, social and environmental impacts of new technologies?

·       What are the impacts of new assistive technologies in shaping the concept of “disability”, and of what it means to be a “normal” human being?

·       Is there a greater need for ethical and political awareness, and perhaps for explicit policies, when designing, deploying and using emerging technologies that might be changing who we are and the worlds in which we live?

19090 PHI4935 Topics in Philosophy of Mind Face to Face Instruction (P) Tu,Th 04:30 PM - 05:45 PM Unavailable

The central questions for this course are these:

•What is it that makes human beings moral agents?

•How does human moral decision-making work?

•Would it be possible for an artificial machine to be a moral agent, making responsible decisions and being responsible for its decisions and actions?

The course in in two parts:

1. The first half of the course is on Human Moral Psychology.  We will examine recent empirical and philosophical work on how humans make moral decisions.  These include:

  • What factors do humans typically consider? 
  • How do we weigh them? 
  • What is there role of unconscious processes and habits? 
  • What is the role of emotion and of reasoning? 
  • What roles do environmental factors and other people play in decisions, and how do we determine individual responsibility when they do affect our decisions?
  • How does the human brain combine and process such information to come to a decision?

2. The second half of the course is about the possibility of Artificial Moral Agents.

Having an honest and informed conception of human moral agency will enable us to make an informed assessment of:

•The possibility of Artificial Moral Agents.

• The obstacles to making this a reality.

•The social and ethical implications of making this a reality.

The problem:  Machines are already making decisions about many aspects of domains we trust them to control:

•Cars that drive themselves,

•Military drones that drop bombs,

•Robotic helpers for people with disabilities, 

•Financial analysis programs that buy and sell stocks faster than humans can do so...

But can we really trust them?

The two halves of the course should dovetail together.  

Reflection on the possibility of Artificial Moral Agents (AMAs) should require us to aim for an honest understanding of human moral psychology and moral agency.  

And reflection on human moral psychology should help inform us on the prospects and implications of trusting machines to make morally-inflected decisions.

19091 PHI5325 Topics in Philosophy of Mind Face to Face Instruction (P) Tu,Th 04:30 PM - 05:45 PM Unavailable

The central questions for this course are these:

•What is it that makes human beings moral agents?

•How does human moral decision-making work?

•Would it be possible for an artificial machine to be a moral agent, making responsible decisions and being responsible for its decisions and actions?

The course in in two parts:

1. The first half of the course is on Human Moral Psychology.  We will examine recent empirical and philosophical work on how humans make moral decisions.  These include:

  • What factors do humans typically consider? 
  • How do we weigh them? 
  • What is there role of unconscious processes and habits? 
  • What is the role of emotion and of reasoning? 
  • What roles do environmental factors and other people play in decisions, and how do we determine individual responsibility when they do affect our decisions?
  • How does the human brain combine and process such information to come to a decision?

2. The second half of the course is about the possibility of Artificial Moral Agents.

Having an honest and informed conception of human moral agency will enable us to make an informed assessment of:

•The possibility of Artificial Moral Agents.

• The obstacles to making this a reality.

•The social and ethical implications of making this a reality.

The problem:  Machines are already making decisions about many aspects of domains we trust them to control:

•Cars that drive themselves,

•Military drones that drop bombs,

•Robotic helpers for people with disabilities, 

•Financial analysis programs that buy and sell stocks faster than humans can do so...

But can we really trust them?

The two halves of the course should dovetail together.  

Reflection on the possibility of Artificial Moral Agents (AMAs) should require us to aim for an honest understanding of human moral psychology and moral agency.  

And reflection on human moral psychology should help inform us on the prospects and implications of trusting machines to make morally-inflected decisions.

Course Number Course Title Mode Date and Time Syllabus
80726 PHI2010 Introduction to Philosophy Face to Face Instruction (P) M,W,F 11:30 AM - 12:20 PM Available
No Description Available
81580 PHI2010H Honors Intro to Philosophy Face to Face Instruction (P) M,W,F 12:30 PM - 01:20 PM Available
No Description Available
81025 PHI3320 Philosophy of Mind Face to Face Instruction (P) M,W,F 02:30 PM - 03:20 PM Available
No Description Available
Course Number Course Title Mode Session Date and Time Syllabus
50276 PHI2010 Introduction to Philosophy Face to Face Instruction (P) A M,Tu,W,Th 10:00 AM - 11:50 AM Available
No Description Available
Course Number Course Title Mode Date and Time Syllabus
10727 PHI2010H Honors Intro to Philosophy Face to Face Instruction (P) Tu,Th 03:00 PM - 04:15 PM Available

Philosophy courses explore different perspectives on deep and important questions. They also develop important skills, which are applicable in many areas of life.  Through active participation in this course, you will improve your skills in:

·  Understanding viewpoints different from your own

·  Clearly explaining your views

·  Clearly and charitably explaining views different from your own

·  Critically assessing the reasons you and others have for holding those views

·  Being convincing in defending your viewpoints as reasonable

This course aims to develop these philosophical skills through critically reading, analyzing, discussing, and writing about classic and contemporary philosophical issues, questions and debates.  During this course we will explore different approaches to questions such as:

·  What is a good way to live one's life? Is there a best way?

·  What would a just society be like?  Is it even possible?

·  What can we know?  What does it take to “know” something?

·  What is a person? Could a non-human be one?

The aim of the course is not merely to learn about what philosophers have thought about questions like these, but to do philosophy using philosophers' approaches to such questions as starting points. 

By the end of this course, you should have your own answers to many of these questions, and should be able to explain your reasons for holding those views.

This course is an opportunity for you to think for yourselves, to examine and critically assess approaches to problems, and to defend ideas and positions of your own.  The course, therefore, will require you to participate rather than simply take information in.  You will read actively, and will be expected to reflect on what you read. You will also be given many opportunities to discuss with others, both verbally and in writing, your thoughts about the readings, questions and issues we cover.

11538 PHI2010H Honors Intro to Philosophy Face to Face Instruction (P) Tu,Th 12:00 PM - 01:15 PM Available

Philosophy courses explore different perspectives on deep and important questions. They also develop important skills, which are applicable in many areas of life.  Through active participation in this course, you will improve your skills in:

·  Understanding viewpoints different from your own

·  Clearly explaining your views

·  Clearly and charitably explaining views different from your own

·  Critically assessing the reasons you and others have for holding those views

·  Being convincing in defending your viewpoints as reasonable

This course aims to develop these philosophical skills through critically reading, analyzing, discussing, and writing about classic and contemporary philosophical issues, questions and debates.  During this course we will explore different approaches to questions such as:

·  What is a good way to live one's life? Is there a best way?

·  What would a just society be like?  Is it even possible?

·  What can we know?  What does it take to “know” something?

·  What is a person? Could a non-human be one?

The aim of the course is not merely to learn about what philosophers have thought about questions like these, but to do philosophy using philosophers' approaches to such questions as starting points. 

By the end of this course, you should have your own answers to many of these questions, and should be able to explain your reasons for holding those views.

This course is an opportunity for you to think for yourselves, to examine and critically assess approaches to problems, and to defend ideas and positions of your own.  The course, therefore, will require you to participate rather than simply take information in.  You will read actively, and will be expected to reflect on what you read. You will also be given many opportunities to discuss with others, both verbally and in writing, your thoughts about the readings, questions and issues we cover.

10914 PHI3323 Minds & Machine: Phil Cog Sci Face to Face Instruction (P) Tu,Th 09:00 AM - 10:15 AM Available

An interdisciplinary examination, from a philosophical perspective, of research into the nature of human, animal, and (arguably) machine cognition. 

Cognitive Science integrates a diverse range of approaches to examining cognitive processes, investigating the structures that support and scaffold cognition, attempting to understand, model and construct cognitive systems, and philosophically examining the foundations and applications of the cognitive sciences.  

Cognitive Science research is interdisciplinary research at the intersections of several disciplines, including artificial intelligence, robotics, neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, animal cognition, artificial life, evolutionary biology, anthropology, sociology, education, and philosophy.

The course takes a philosophical perspective, engaging in critical investigation of the assumptions and metaphors that underlie this research, and of the issues and problems that arise for such research.  The focus is on how these assumptions and metaphors of cognition have changed, and the ways current controversies and debates in cognitive science result from these changes, and from debates over which aspects of our previous metaphors and assumptions remain useful and which should be replaced.

This is a useful complement to a major in any Cognitive Science discipline (Psychology, Philosophy, Neuroscience, Linguistics, Computer Science, Ethology, Anthropology), and an important component of the Cognitive Sciences Minor. 

Course Number Course Title Mode Date and Time Syllabus
80776 PHI2010 Introduction to Philosophy Face to Face Instruction (P) M,W,F 10:30 AM - 11:20 AM Available

Philosophy courses explore different perspectives on deep and important questions. They also develop important skills, which are applicable in many areas of life.  Through active participation in this course, you will improve your skills in:

·  Understanding viewpoints different from your own

·  Clearly explaining your views to others

·  Assessing the reasons for holding your views

·  Being convincing in defending your views

This course aims to develop these philosophical skills through critically reading, analyzing, discussing, and writing about classic and contemporary philosophical issues, questions and debates.  During this course we will explore different approaches to questions such as:

·  What is a good way to live one's life? Is there a best way?

·  What would a just society be like?  Is it even possible?

·  What can we know?  What does it take to “know” something?

·  What are you?  a mind? a body?  a human being? a person?

·  What is a person? Could a non-human be one?

·  What could change about you, without changing who you are?

The aim of the course is not merely to learn about what philosophers have thought about questions like these, but to do philosophy using philosophers' approaches to such questions as starting points. 

By the end of this course, you should have your own answers to many of these questions, and should be able to explain your reasons for holding those views.

This course is an opportunity for you to think for yourself, to examine and critically assess approaches to problems, and to defend ideas and positions of your own.  The course, therefore, will require you to participate rather than simply take information in.  You will read actively, and will be expected to reflect on what you read. You will also be given many opportunities to discuss with others, both verbally and in writing, your thoughts about the readings, questions and issues we cover.

81864 PHI2010H Honors Intro to Philosophy Face to Face Instruction (P) M,W,F 12:30 PM - 01:20 PM Available

Philosophy courses explore different perspectives on deep and important questions. They also develop important skills, which are applicable in many areas of life.  Through active participation in this course, you will improve your skills in:

·  Understanding viewpoints different from your own

·  Clearly explaining your views to others

·  Assessing the reasons for holding your views

·  Being convincing in defending your views

This course aims to develop these philosophical skills through critically reading, analyzing, discussing, and writing about classic and contemporary philosophical issues, questions and debates.  During this course we will explore different approaches to questions such as:

·  What is a good way to live one's life? Is there a best way?

·  What would a just society be like?  Is it even possible?

·  What can we know?  What does it take to “know” something?

·  What are you?  a mind? a body?  a human being? a person?

·  What is a person? Could a non-human be one?

·  What could change about you, without changing who you are?

The aim of the course is not merely to learn about what philosophers have thought about questions like these, but to do philosophy using philosophers' approaches to such questions as starting points. 

By the end of this course, you should have your own answers to many of these questions, and should be able to explain your reasons for holding those views.

This course is an opportunity for you to think for yourself, to examine and critically assess approaches to problems, and to defend ideas and positions of your own.  The course, therefore, will require you to participate rather than simply take information in.  You will read actively, and will be expected to reflect on what you read. You will also be given many opportunities to discuss with others, both verbally and in writing, your thoughts about the readings, questions and issues we cover.

91178 PHI4221 Philosophy of Language Face to Face Instruction (P) M,W,F 01:30 PM - 02:20 PM Available

This is a course that examines the nature, origins, use(s) and role(s) of language from a philosophical perspective. Students will examine both philosophical literature and empirical research that support competing views of the relationships between language, reality, cognition and culture.

This interdisciplinary approach will incorporate a variety of learning strategies for developing your ability to assess, analyze and produce your own positions and arguments about these relationships. 

Analytical Framework

Philosophical investigation often begins with a question.  Most of the papers we read are attempts to answer one question or another about language and its relationships with cognition, culture and context.  Identifying the question asked by a particular author, and what their answer is, can be a very useful way to approach reading the kinds of papers we will read for this course.

These papers will be instrumental in helping you to come up with reasoned and defensible answers of your own, or perhaps to identify better questions.

Questions we explore may include:

·  What is a language?

·  What is language for?

·  How did language arise?

·  What distinguishes animal communication from human language?

·  What do features that distinguish human language from animal communication tell us about humanity?

·  What do human languages tell us about different aspects of humanity or different ways of being human?

·  In what ways is language related to political power?  How can it be used to create, maintain, or rebel against social or political structures?

·  How are language and culture related?

·  What does one learn when one learns a language?

·  What do we share when we share a language?

·  How does an expression get a meaning?

·  How do culture and language affect how we think and categorize?

·  Is it possible to translate from one language to another?

·  Is the meaning of the speaker’s utterance fixed by what the speaker has in mind? By the audience? By the speaker’s community?

·  Does of a speech act contribute to the meaning of the speaker’s utterance?

·  What roles do power relationships play in constructing categories of objects for words to refer to?

·  Can reality be a projection of language that changes depending on the language spoken?

·  What is the relationship between words and objects they refer to?

·  What does it take for a statement to be true?

·  How does the judgment of a statement to be true relate to issues of political power and social control?

91179 PHI5225 Philosophy of Language Face to Face Instruction (P) M,W,F 01:30 PM - 02:20 PM Unavailable
No Description Available

Updated: Dec 6, 2018