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PI8006 Neurophilosophy

  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Lecturer: Dr Thomas Farrell
  • Contact Hours: 22 hours of lectures
  • Semester: 2

Module Outline

Perhaps since Plato, and certainly since Descartes, there has been a thesis in philosophy that there are two substances, the one mental (the mind) and the other physical (the body).  This view arose in response to certain difficulties in philosophy, but has raised more problems such as how these substances interact and whether one can exist without the other. These problems have proved so intractable that philosophers have been disposed to respond to them by rejecting one or other substance, or less dramatically by 'reducing' one to the other. None of the attempts to grapple with the 'mind-body' problem have found universal acceptance, although an ultimate reduction of the mental to the physical has been widely, if tacitly, accepted by scientists. The rapid development of neuroscience and artificial intelligence has been considered to support this view. In these seminars we will explore that apparent support.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of this course students will be able to:

  •    Discuss the main theoretical positions on questions in the philosophy of mind.
  •    Present arguments for and against these positions.
  •    Assess the contribution which neuroscience may make to these discussions.
  •    Discuss the concepts of identity, reduction, causality, and explanation as these relate to the mind-body problem.

Recommended Reading List:

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.


PhD students will be required to write one substantial essay (3,000-4,000 words). Students should confirm the essay title with their lecturer.

The word count includes footnotes but it does not include the bibliography.

Essays that go over the limit will be liable for a 5 mark deduction.

There will be a 5 mark deduction for each week an essay is late. Students may request an extension by contacting the lecturer of their module.

Students must attach a cover sheet to all Philosophy essays.