October 2014's A&S Researcher of the Month
Dr. J. Robert Thompson, Associate Professor of Philosophy
Dr. J. Robert Thompson serves the College of Arts & Sciences as an associate professor of philosophy in the Department of Philosophy and Religion. Dr. Thompson arrived at MSU in 2008, and since then, has become a key player to the Department of Philosophy and Religion and the College.
Thompson is currently serving as the secretary for the Southern Society of Philosophy and Psychology, and his research focuses on the way humans look to understand one another’s thoughts and actions and how that understanding affects our communication abilities. His research has always found a way to cross disciplines such as psychology and linguistics with a touch of neuroscience. Thompson has had two papers published over the past 18 months in two of the top journals worldwide. These two journals, Mind & Language and Cognitive Science, have an acceptance rate for paper submissions at about five percent. Dr. Thompson’s paper “Meaning and Mindreading” published in Mind & Language analyzes both conceptual arguments in philosophy and empirical data from developmental psychology in defense of his conclusion that even young children have complex mindreading abilities that allow them to communicate in intricate ways beyond what we originally thought. His paper “Signature Limits in Mindreading Systems” published in Cognitive Science critiques a specific proposal about these mindreading abilities that has been offered by psychologists, showing that the timeline of development suggested in that proposal is at odds with the most cutting-edge research on infant mindreading abilities. Dr. Thompson has also had publications featured in Synthese: An International Journal for Epistemology, Methodology and Philosophy of Science and Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, and he has presented several of his works at American Philosophical Association, the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, and the Southern Society for Philosophy and Psychology meetings as well as this past summer’s The Future of Social Cognition conference held in Bochum, Germany.