Colin Allen is Distinguished Professor of History & Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh. From 2017-2020, he also holds the title of "Changjiang (Yangtze River) Chair Professor" at Xi'an Jiaotong University, Xi'an, China.
Allen's main areas of research concern the philosophical foundations of cognitive science. He is particularly interested in the scientific study of cognition in nonhuman animals and computers, and he has published widely on topics in the philosophy of mind, philosophy of biology, and artificial intelligence. He has over 100 research articles and several edited and co-authored books, including Moral Machines: Teaching Robots Right from Wrong (Oxford University Press 2009), with Korean (2015), Japanese (2017), and Chinese (2017: Peking University Press) translations.
Since 1998 Allen has been consulting and programming for The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy and is Associate Editor of the encyclopedia. He is director of the Indiana Philosophy Ontology project (InPhO) which has received multiple national and international research grants for its work in computational humanities, and alongside four Indiana University colleagues he is co-PI of a project on the Evolution of Human Cognition funded by a multimillion dollar grant by the John Templeton Foundation to the Stone Age Institute in Bloomington, Indiana.
In 2010 Allen received a Research Award from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation in Germany, which is given "in recognition of a researcher's entire achievements to date", and in 2013 he received the Barwise Prize from the American Philosophical Association "for significant and sustained contributions to areas relevant to philosophy and computing by an APA member".