PHIL 353.001 – Philosophy of Cognitive Science

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Instructor: Dean Pettit. This course meets TR 2:00 – 3:15 p.m. in CW 103.

Cognitive science is an inter-disciplinary area of inquiry that intersects psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, linguistics, and artificial intelligence (AI). It emerged in the mid 20th century from a combination of intellectual developments and technological innovations that allowed for a new, scientific approach to studying the workings of the human mind. In this course we will be concerned with the conceptual foundations of this enterprise and a set of philosophical issues underlying it. The following questions are among those we will confront this semester. How does one study the mind in a scientific way? What kinds of evidence are available, and what sorts of theoretical postulates are legitimate? What is the structural organization of the mind? How does the mind represent and encode information about the world? What kinds of representations does the mind employ? What kinds of computational processes are at work in the mind? Should we think of the mind on the model of a computer? What is the relationship between the brain and the mind? How are the neurologic mechanisms of the brain related to the structure of the mind, the representations it employs and its computational mechanisms? Some background in philosophy is a prerequisite for this course, and background in any of the related areas mentioned above will be helpful, but no particular background will be presupposed.

Prerequisite: at least 1 PHIL course