Nancy Salay

Nancy Salay

Continuing Associate Professor

Philosophy, School of Computing

Arts and Science

People Directory Affiliation Category
  • B.A., Waterloo 
  • M.A., Waterloo
  • Ph.D., Dalhousie

Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Philosophy of Language, Metaphysics 

Queen's Webpage


My work over the past ten years has been informed by key insights in the embodied cognitive science tradition. These ideas are currently finding expression in a book, A Pragmatic Account of Cognition: Rethinking Externalism and Intentionality, due for completion in 2023. In it I advance a theory of cognition that challenges the view that human cognition is grounded in a biologically fundamental capacity for representation. I argue that this reductive internalist picture is mistaken, misguided, and ultimately misguiding and in its stead, I advocate for a version of externalism on which representation use is a learned skill.

In my other professional role, I am Anglophone Editor of Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review, an established, generalist journal of philosophy. Recently, my colleagues and I have launched a new series, Project Babel Fish, in which we print a paper in English alongside a version in the author’s native language. We intend to continue this each year, offering selected authors the opportunity to have their work translated by our team to the extent of our ability. We hope that this initiative will foster dialogue between diverse philosophical communities.

A few years back I founded ESC (Embodiment, Systems, and Complexity), an inter-disciplinary research institute of embodied cognition, with the hope that it would become an inter-discplinary hub and resource for current papers in the field. Unfortunately work on it generally falls to the very bottom of my to-do list and so it hasn't changed much since then, but one day .... In the meantime, I encourage people who are interested in embodied, enactive ideas to subscribe, add a post, or let us know about interesting events or papers.