SOW-DGCN03
Neurophilosophy
Course infoSchedule
Course moduleSOW-DGCN03
Credits (ECTS)6
CategoryMA (Master)
Language of instructionEnglish
Offered byRadboud University; Faculty of Social Sciences; Cognitive Neuroscience;
Lecturer(s)
PreviousNext 2
Lecturer
dr. ing. L.C. de Bruin
Other course modules lecturer
Examiner
dr. O. Colizoli
Other course modules lecturer
Coordinator
dr. O. Colizoli
Other course modules lecturer
Contactperson for the course
dr. O. Colizoli
Other course modules lecturer
Lecturer
prof. dr. W.F.G. Haselager
Other course modules lecturer
Academic year2023
Period
SEM2  (29/01/2024 to 12/07/2024)
Starting block
SEM2
Course mode
full-time
RemarksThis course has a max numb of students. Non-CNS students can be put on the waiting list. More information cns@cns.ru.nl
Registration using OSIRISYes
Course open to students from other facultiesNo
Pre-registrationNo
Waiting listNo
Placement procedure-
Aims

In this course you will become acquainted with a number of theories and debates in neurophilosophy, philosophy of science, and neuroethics. 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.

Content

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?

Epistemology: What does modern neuroscience add to the debate about the limits of knowledge? We will use evidence from modern neuroscience to answer traditional epistemological questions such as: Is all knowledge is gained through the senses? What defines a sense and how many senses do we have? Do we (ever) have access to "things-in-themselves"? Furthermore, we will explore the roots of Kant's categories of mind in relation to today's predictive coding framework. Does cognitive neuroscience allow us to understand the neural basis of qualia (first-person experience) through individual differences, such as synesthesia, phantom pain and tinnitus? Does the neuroscience of qualia solve the "easy" problem of consciousness and is the "hard" problem the wrong question to ask? 

Level

Presumed foreknowledge

Test information

The grade will consist of 1 proposal for an essay and 1 essay about a philosophical topic related to cognitive neuroscience. The proposal will be marked sufficient or insufficient. Students need to pass the proposal to move on to the essay assignment. The essay itself will be graded out of 10 points.

Specifics

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

Recommended materials
Articles
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
Articles
Coltheart, M. (2013). How Can Functional Neuroimaging Inform Cognitive Theories? Perspectives on Psychological Science, 8(1), 98-103. doi:10.1177/1745691612469208. Available at: http://pps.sagepub.com.proxy.ubn.ru.nl/content/8/1/98.full.pdf.
Book
Wilson, R. & Foglia, L. (2015) Embodied Cognition, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/embodied-cognition/
Articles
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
Articles
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
Articles
Neurosci. 2017;37(45):10842-10847. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2584-17.2017.
Articles
Dijkstra, N. & De Bruin, L.C. (2016). Cognitive Neuroscience and Causal Inference, Frontiers in Psychiatry. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2016.00129
Articles
Ramsey, W. (2013) Eliminative Materialism, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/materialism-eliminative/
Book
Fried I, Haggard P, He BJ, Schurger A. (2017). Volition and Action in the Human Brain: Processes, Pathologies, and Reasons. J
Book
Kroes MCW, Liivoja R. (2018). Eradicating war memories: Neuroscientific reality and ethical concerns. Int Rev Red Cross. 2018:1-27. doi:10.1017/S1816383118000437.<br>
Book
Lewis CJ, Maier F, Horstkötter N, et al. (2017). Subjectively perceived personality and mood changes associated with subthalamic stimulation in patients with Parkinson’s disease. Psychol Med. 2015;45(1):73-85. doi:10.1017/S0033291714001081.
Book
Poldrack, R. A., & Farah, M. J. (2015). Progress and challenges in probing the human brain. Nature, 526(7573), 371–379. http://doi.org/10.1038/nature15692
Articles
Raine A. (2018). The Neuromoral Theory of Antisocial, Violent, and Psychopathic Behavior. Psychiatry Res. 2018;(October):1-6. doi:10.1016/j.psychres.2018.11.025.
Articles
Craver, C. (2005) Beyond Reduction: Mechanisms, Multifield Integration and the Unity of Neuroscience/ Studies in the History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 36, 373–395.
Articles
Eickhoff, S. B., & Langner, R. (2019). Neuroimaging-based prediction of mental traits: Road to utopia or Orwell? PLOS Biology, 1–6. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pbio.3000497
Articles
Hohwy, J. (2014). The self-evidencing brain. Nous 50(2), 259–285.
Articles
Scarpazza, C., Pellegrini, S., Pietrini, P., & Sartori, G. (2017). The Role of Neuroscience in the Evaluation of Mental Insanity: on the Controversies in Italy. Neuroethics. http://doi.org/10.1007/s12152-017-9349-0
Book
Slors, M., De Bruin, L. & Strijbos, D. W. (2015). Philosophy of Mind, Brain and Behaviour. Amsterdam: Boom.
Websites
Woodward, J. (2016) Causation and Manipulability, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/causation-mani/
Articles
Farah, M., Illes, J., Cook-Deegan, R. et al. (2004) Neurocognitive enhancement: what can we do and what should we do?.Nat Rev Neurosci5,421–425. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn1390

Instructional modes
Active participation in discussions
Attendance MandatoryYes

Lecture
Attendance MandatoryYes

Remark
Lectures, student assignments, active participation in discussions.

Student assignments
Attendance MandatoryYes

Tests
Essay
Test weight1
Test typeEssay
OpportunitiesBlock SEM2, Block SEM2

Remark
NOTE: enrollment for a course automatically registers you for its exam. For participating in the resit, register again.