Course infoSchedule
Course moduleSOW-DGCN03
Credits (ECTS)6
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Social Sciences; Cognitive Neuroscience;
dr. ing. L.C. de Bruin
Other course modules lecturer
prof. dr. W.F.G. Haselager
Other course modules lecturer
prof. dr. W.F.G. Haselager
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
prof. dr. W.F.G. Haselager
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2017
SEM2  (05/02/2018 to 13/07/2018)
Starting block
Course mode
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesNo
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-

In this course students will become acquainted with a number of hotly debated issues in neurophilosophy. They will learn to appreciate the fact that there currently exist various, sometimes widely differing, views about the very nature of mind and cognition. Students will be able to explicate (both verbally and in writing) the relations between neuroscientific data and theories and their psychological and philosophical interpretations and consequences. Ultimately, students should be able not just to reiterate the standard positions, but also to formulate and defend their own views on these topics.


Reductionism: What is the relation between mind and brain (the mind-body problem)? And what, exactly, is the relation between psychology and neuroscience? Even if the existence of a separate mind substance (dualism) is rejected, there are various positions possible, ranging from eliminativism (psychology and all talk of the mental should be eliminated in favour of neuroscience), via reductionism (psychology can be reduced to neuroscience, but it still provides the explananda) to a complete autonomy for psychology (neuroscience does not contribute anything to the study of mind and cognition).

Embodied Cognition and Predictive Coding: How should the relation between brain, body and environment be construed? Over the past few years, the predictive coding approach has increasingly been gaining ground throughout the cognitive sciences. This approach treats the brain as a probabilistic inference system, which is hierarchically organized in levels and attempts to predict the input it receives by constructing models of the possible causes of this input. What are the implications of this approach for Embodied Cognition and the Extended Mind Hypothesis?

(Self-)Consciousness and Free Will: Phenomenal consciousness or subjective experience is currently seen as the "hard problem" of the philosophy of mind. What is consciousness and what role, if any, does it play in cognition? Will neuroscience be able to identify the property in the brain that is (responsible for) consciousness, and, if so, will we be able to understand how that property is, or gives rise to, consciousness? How is our conscious experience related to the interpretation of ourselves as actors? Do our conscious thoughts really cause our behavior? Is there such a thing or process as 'Free will'?

Neuroethics: Developments within cognitive neuroscience have considerable implications for society, raising all kinds of moral and legal issues. Topics range from privacy, therapy and cognitive enhancement to identity, responsibility and the human self-conception at large. We will examine and critically reflect upon a variety of current and potential ways in which cognitive neuroscience will help to shape our future. Another issue is to what extent cognitive neuroscience can illuminate our capacity to engage in ethical evaluations in the first place. Will a behind-the-scenes look at human morality have moral implications or change our evaluation of human morality?

Additional comments
COURSE: February 7, 2018 – June 27, 2018; Wednesday 10.45-12.30
LOCATION: t.b.a.
NOTE: enrollment for a course automatically registers you for its exam. If you don't want to do the first exam you have to deregister for the exam in OSIRIS, but do not forget to sign up for the retake in OSIRIS.
Registration via STUDENT PORTAL till 5 working days before the start of the courseNote: this course is for CNS students only.
Non-CNS students can contact Ellen Janssen ( Arno Koning ( ).

Test information
TYPE OF EXAM: Take home exam (paper).

Contact information
Dr. W. Haselager & dr. L. de Bruin

Required materials
Course material
Lecture notes References (book chapters and journal papers)

Recommended materials
Bickle, J., Mandik, P. & Landreth, A. (2010). The Philosophy of Neuroscience, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
Clark, A. (2013). Whatever next? Predictive brains, situated agents, and the future of cognitive science. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol.36 / Issue 03 / June 2013, pp. 181-204. doi:10.1017/S0140525X12000477
Coltheart, M. (2013). How Can Functional Neuroimaging Inform Cognitive Theories? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8(1), 98-103. doi:10.1177/1745691612469208. Available at:
Klaming, L. & Haselager, W.F.G.. (2013). Did my brain implant make me do it ? Questions raised by DBS regarding psychological continuity, responsibility for action and mental competence. Neuroethics, 6(3), 527-539, doi :10.1007/s12152-010-9093-1.
Wilson, R. & Foglia, L. (2015) Embodied Cognition, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:
Brembs, B. (2011). Towards a scientific concept of free will as a biological trait: spontaneous actions and decision-making in invertebrates. Proceedings Biological Sciences / The Royal Society, 278(1707), 930-9. doi:10.1098/rspb.2010.2325
Maoz, U., & Yaffe, G. (2015). What does recent neuroscience tell us about criminal responsibility? Journal of Law and the Biosciences, 1-20. doi:10.1093/jlb/lsv051
Neuroskeptic (2012). The Nine Circles of Scientific Hell. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 7(6), 643–644. doi:10.1177/1745691612459519
Young, L., & Dungan, J. (2012). Where in the brain is morality? Everywhere and maybe nowhere. Social Neuroscience, (February 2013), 37–41.

Instructional modes
Active participation in discussions
Attendance MandatoryYes

Attendance MandatoryYes

Lectures, student assignments, active participation in discussions.

Student assignments
Attendance MandatoryYes

Take home exam (paper)
Test weight1
OpportunitiesBlock SEM2, Block SEM2