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Pitt-Tsinghua Summer School for Philosophy of Science

Institute of Science Technology and Society, Tsinghua University • Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh


2012  Edouard Machery, Empirical and Experimental Philosophy

Course description
There is now an extensive research effort at the intersection of philosophy and the behavioral sciences (primarily, psychology and cognitive neuroscience). Many traditional questions in philosophy have been rejuvenated by data and theories developed in the behavioral sciences, and, in the other direction, psychology and neuroscience have benefited from their interaction with philosophy. This course will survey the main philosophical questions raised by cognitive science and by experimental philosophy. Students will acquire a comprehensive grasp of the main issues in the growing field of empirical and experimental philosophy. We will discuss questions such as: Is the mind modular? What are concepts? What is the nature of moral judgments? Do intuitions vary and does it matter for philosophy? What does it mean for a mental state to be conscious?

Lecture 1: Cognitive Architecture, Modularity, and Dual-Process Theories
Is the mind entirely made of modules? If not, what is the nature of the non-modular cognitive system? Is the mind made of two systems, as dual-system theorists propose?

Carruthers, P. (2005). The case for massively modular models of mind. In R. Stainton(Ed.), Contemporary debates in cognitive science (pp. 3–21). Oxford: Blackwell.
Machery, E. (ms). Against dual-process theories.
Samuels, R. (2005). Is the human mind massively modular? In R. Stainton(Ed.), Contemporary debates in cognitive science (pp. 37–58). Oxford: Blackwell.
Samuels, R. (2009). The magical number two, plus or minus: Dual-process theory as a theory of cognitive kinds. In J. St. B. Evans and K. Frankish (Eds.), In two minds (pp. 129146). Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lecture 2: Concepts
This first lecture will examine the following questions: What are concepts? Are they similar to percepts? How are people able to acquire them? Are they influenced by languages?

Machery, E. (2009). Doing without concepts. New York: Oxford University Press.
Machery, E. (2011). Précis of Doing without Concepts. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33, 195-244.
Margolis, E., and Laurence, S. (2011). Concepts. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. @ http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/concepts/
McCaffrey, J., and Machery, E. (in press). Concepts, philosophical Issues. WIRES.

Lecture 3: Moral Judgments and Emotions
What is the relation between moral judgments and emotions? Experimental evidence and philosophical theorizing in the philosophy of cognitive science have cast new light on this question, which has a long history in philosophy, as illustrated by Hume’s and others’ speculations.

Greene, J. D., Sommerville, R. B., Nystrom, L. E., Darley, J. M., and Cohen, J. D. (2001). An fMRI investigation of emotional engagement in moral judgment. Science, 293, 2105-2108.
Haidt, J. (2001). The emotional dog and its rational tail: A social intuitionist approach to moral judgment. Psychological Review, 108, 814-834.
Mikhail, J. (2007). Universal moral grammar: Theory, evidence, and the future. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 11, 143-152.
Prinz, J. (2007). The emotional construction of morals. New York: Oxford University Press. Chapter 1.

Lecture 4: Variability of Intuitions
While philosophical theories often rely on intuitions, recent research has shown that intuitions can vary substantially and be biased. In this lecture, we will investigate the implications of these findings.

Machery, E., Mallon, R., Nichols, S., and Stich, S. P. (2004). Semantics, Cross-cultural style. Cognition, 92, B1-B12.
Mallon, R., Machery, E., Nichols, S., and Stich, S. P. (2009). Against arguments from reference. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 79, 332-356.
Schwitzgebel, E., and Cushman, F. (in press). Expertise in moral reasoning? Order effects on moral judgment in professional philosophers and non-philosophers. Mind & Language.
Williamson, T. (2011). Philosophical expertise and the burden of proof. Metaphilosophy, 42, 215-229.

Lecture 5: Consciousness
How do people conceive of conscious mental states? And does it matter for philosophical theories of consciousness?

Arico, A., Fiala, B., Goldberg, R., and Nichols, S. (2011). The folk psychology of consciousness. Mind & Language, 26, 327-352.
Gray, H., Gray, K., and Wegner, D. (2007). Dimensions of mind perception. Science, 315, 619.
Knobe, J., and Prinz, J. (2008). Intuitions about consciousness: Experimental studies. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, 7, 67-85.
Sytsma, J., and Machery, E. (2009). How to study folk intuitions about phenomenal consciousness. Philosophical Psychology, 22, 21-35.
Sytsma, J. M., and Machery, E. (2010). Two conceptions of subjective experience. Philosophical Studies, 151, 299-327.



Revised 9/11/18 - Copyright 2006-2009