|030105 Values in Science (Fischer)
|000000 Hume on Religion (Schmidt)
|030053 Introductory Math and Programming for Computational Philosophy (Yoo/Straße)
|030096 Reasoning about action and agency in logic (van Berkel)
|030054 Conceptions of Philosophy (Steinkrüger)
|030109 Introduction to the Philosophy of Science and Psychology (Horvath)
|030110 Mind and Time: Perception and the Flow of Experience (Vernazzani)
|030067 The problem of consciousness (Kammerer)
|030108 Is the mind extended? (Schlicht)
|030094 Special Topics in Philosophy of Science (Baedke)
|000000 History of Analytic Philosophy II (Trächtler)
|030049 Mindshaping (Schlicht)
|030116 Pursuitworthiness in Scientific Inquiry (Seselja)
|030089 Memory and Experience (Werning)
|000000 Experiment and Observation (Boge)
|030099 The Social Mind (Venter)
|030003 General Philosophy of Science (Baedke)
|030091 Bad Language: the meaning of insults, slurs, and bullshit (Liefke)
|030068 Consciousness, value, and moral status (Kammerer)
|030106 Writing a Bachelor or Master Thesis in English (Seselja/Straßer)
|030095 Modeling the World: Representation in Scientific Practice (Fábregas-Tejeda)
|030007 Advanced Epistemology (Brössel)
|030112 Meaning in the Brain (Werning)
|030100 Research seminar on contradictory logics (Wansing)
|030095 Exercise Tutorials to: Reasoning about action and agency in logic (van Berkel)
|030098 Artificial Consciousness (Wiese)
|Block: 030097 Methods in Philosophy of Science (Baedke), End of September 23, 10-16
|Block: 030117 Integrated History and Philosophy of Science (Seselja), April 30, Jun 4, July 16, 10-16; online coaching sessions in between the blocks
|Block: 030081 Cognitive Systems and the Extended Mind (Venter), July 31, August 1-4, 10-14
Please note: The courses are color coded: WM IIIa 1 (Epistemology, Action, and Methods in Philosophy and Science), WM IIIa 2 (Logic, Language, and Metaphysics), WM IIIc 3 (Mind and Cognition); VM IIIa 1 (Epistemology, Action, and Methods in Philosophy and Science), VM IIIa 2 (Logic, Language, and Metaphysics), VM IIIc 3 (Mind and Cognition);
WM IIIa 1
General Philosophy of Science
Philosophy of science reflects on the foundations, methods and aims of science. General philosophy of science includes further subjects like patterns of the historical development and the social structure of science. In the closer sense, it can be retraced continuously from the ancient world until present. Several disciplinary terms (such as “philosophy of mathematics” or later “philosophy of physics” and “philosophy of biology”) have been developed not until the 18th century and reflect the increasing significance of specific scientific knowledge for modern philosophy. The lecture gives an overview over the present status of general philosophy of science. It deals, on the one hand, with problems of methods and certain key concepts (such as “explanation” and “understanding”); on the other hand, it examines questions that focus on the significance of the historicity of scientific knowledge for the present sciences.
The lecture is initially addressed to students of philosophy in general and of the master program HPS+ in particular. It is open for interested students of other subjects with (at least) basic knowledge in theoretical philosophy, which is possible to gain in the module “Introduction to theoretical philosophy” (SE1). Parallel to the lecture an accompanying seminar will be offered which serves to deepen and to complement the topics of the lecture. Participation in the seminar is recommended, but only for students of HPS+ it is a requirement in order to complete the “basic module 1”. The language of the lecture will be English. You will be informed about modalities concerning credits in the first session of the lecture.
Methods in Philosophy of Science
This seminar addresses methodological issues in philosophy of science. This includes, among others, ways to conduct philosophy of science vs. philosophy for science, methods of integrated history and philosophy of science (HPS), argumentation theory as well as experimental and digital methods in philosophy of science. The seminar is obligatory for students of the master program HPS+.
Modeling the World: Representation in Scientific Practice
Fábregas-Tejeda, A.; Prieto, G.
In pursuance of their epistemic goals—such as describing, explaining, understanding, intervening, predicting, and communicating results—scientists perform diverse activities. A central activity that has received substantial attention in philosophy of science in the last decades is “representing” the manifold facets of the world through models, diagrams and pictures, simulations, linguistic descriptions, and metaphors. But what makes something a “scientific representation”? Do all representations employed by scientists have properties or elements in common? How, for instance, do scientific models represent their target systems? How are representations rendered heuristically and epistemically fruitful? How important are representations for knowledge production and the practice of science in general? This seminar offers an introduction to representation (as practice and product) in scientific contexts through discussions of its theoretical and philosophical underpinnings and by expounding diverse disciplinary backgrounds and case studies. We will delve into topics such as (i) the construction and uses of models in science; (ii) abstraction, idealization, and the dangers of pernicious reification; (iii) the role of the visual in scientific representations; (iv) the ontic and epistemic statuses of representations in the sciences; and (v) problems and tensions subtending this widespread activity in the praxis of science.
Through the analysis of classic and contemporary texts from diverse scientific and philosophical disciplines, this seminar scrutinizes “representation” as an important concept for contemporary reflection in the epistemology of the sciences. In that sense, the seminar will provide a comprehensive introduction to central questions and problems in today’s philosophy of scientific representation (broadly construed). To pass the course, students must participate in the preliminary meeting (23.05.2023), actively partake in the discussions, and write an essay or take other course activities.
Values in Science
The value-free ideal. Various sorts of epistemic values and non-epistemic values. Legitimate and illegitimate “The New Demarcation Problem” This course is open to advanced B.A. students and M.A. students.
Pursuitworthiness in Scientific Inquiry
The topic of pursuitworthiness in scientific inquiry received a lot of attention throughout the last decades of the 20th century. While this theme draws its roots from Peirce’s ‘economy of research’ and discussions that followed Reichenbach’s distinction between the context of discovery and the context of justification, pursuitworthiness became an explicit topic of philosophical accounts in the post-Kuhnian literature. Starting from Laudan’s (1977) ‘context of pursuit’, to McMullin’s (1976) ‘heuristic appraisal’, to Anne-Whitt’s (1992) ‘indices of theorypromise’ different accounts aimed at explicating ways of evaluating the promising character of scientific inquiry. The importance of distinguishing the ‘comparative evaluation of problemsolving efficiency and promise’ and the ‘evaluation of completed research’ (Nickles 1980) remained central to subsequent philosophical debates: from discussions on the role of values in scientific research, to the literature on scientific pluralism, to debates concerning particular controversies in empirical sciences, to epistemological discussions on the norms underlying the process of inquiry – to mention only some examples (see, for example, articles in the special issue of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science:
In this course we will read both the classics as well as contemporary articles on the topic of pursuitworthiness, aiming to connect traditional discussions with recent debates concerning this notion.
Conceptions of Philosophy
Throughout history, there have been quite different ways of understanding what philosophy is ultimately about. According to a very early and never completely abondonded view, philosophy aims to discover or contribute to the discovery of the fundamental truths of reality. Socrates famously distanced himself from that conception and instead described philosophy as a way of life, guiding us in all our decisions. Other philosophers again conceived of philosophy as a kind of therapy that can free us from misunderstandings that cloud our judgments; examples for this idea of philosophy can be seen in ancient Skepticism, Stoicism and the late Wittgenstein. In this seminar, we will look at a number of such general conceptions of philosophy with the aim both to distinguish them as clearly as possible as well as to see how they relate to each other.
Introduction to the Philosophy of Science and Psychology
This seminar will be a “crash course”-style introduction to the basic philosophical concepts and problems concerning science in general and scientific psychology in particular. The main idea behind this approach is that an introduction to philosophy of psychology on its own – without some general philosophical perspective on science – threatens to be overly myopic, given that psychology shares many of its basic problems and concerns with other scientific disciplines. For this reason, the course will begin with general topics in the philosophy of science, such as explanation, realism, scientific change and scientific revolutions, and science criticism. After that, we will turn to more specific methods and problems of scientific psychology, especially those related to psychological experiments and the statistical analysis of data.
Experiment and Observation
Empirical science rests centrally on experiments and observations. But how are they related, how distinguished? What counts as an experiment, what as an observation? Furthermore, is observation epistemically distinguished, as some empiricists may have thought, or does experiment trump observation?
WM IIIa 2
Introductory Math and Programming for Computational Philosophy
Yoo, Soong Hwan
In recent years, many philosophical developments have made use of heavy computer simulations and gigantic data sets. But for the average student of philosophy, it is difficult to engage with such literature. Required foundations, such as computer programming or probability theory, were not considered as traditional tool sets in philosophy. This course aims to equip students with these foundations in programming and math. Thanks to the advance in modern technology and measurement techniques, scientists can carry out theoretical analyses that involve intense computations. For example, they can investigate how fake news or political propaganda spread in communities and neighborhoods, considering how people exchange information. Some theoretical frameworks such as theories of complex systems and networks can be used in these contexts of analyzing information propagation. But since these tools use large data sets and computer calculations, they come with the heavy burden of mathematics and computer programming skills. Philosophers, as well, have started to pay attention to such analytical methods that rely heavily on computers. Epistemologists have started to use such tools when looking into knowledge in a social context, where multiple agents interact with each other. Here, network analysis has also become a widely exploited method among philosophers of science and social epistemologists. But as this method involves applied mathematics—such as matrix algebra or graph theory—in computer coding, philosophers are also required to have this knowledge and skills.
As noted, this course aims to provide the necessary foundations in mathematics and computer programming. Participants are not expected to have taken prior math courses such as matrix algebra, statistics, graph theory, and computer coding. We plan to proceed in a step-by-step manner as follows.
We start by reading some seminal papers in the discipline of network epistemology. These articles are accessible themselves. But to fully comprehend the methodologies and to furthermore replicate their results, one needs to have some basic understanding of math and coding.
Therefore, we will provide the required basics of matrix algebra, statistics, and graph theory. Also, we will practice the concepts and materials on programming codes as we proceed. Eventually, we will go back to look into the codes of the seminal articles that we started with at the beginning.
Reasoning about action and agency in logic
van Berkel, Cornelis
In this course, students will acquire theoretical knowledge of the state of the art on logical formalisms for reasoning about agency and action. The course introduces the main approaches in this field, several theoretical applications of the discussed logics, and an overview of various challenges and open problems. Students will obtain skills in formalizing agency scenarios, proving statements, and critically evaluating theories. Logical formalisms provide mathematically precise means for reasoning with and enhancing our understanding of philosophical concepts. Theories of agency and action have been wellstudied using logical methods. Most of these formalisms use modal logic. In this course, we look at some of the most influential logics of agency used in philosophical logic and AI, as developed over the past decades. Throughout, we introduce basic concepts and methods in modal logic.
We will cover the three most prominent logical formalisms of agency: Seeing to it that Logic, Dynamic Logic, and Belief-Desire-Intention Logic. Each formalism emphasizes a different aspect of agency theory: Seeing to it that Logic focuses on the concept of choice, Dynamic Logic takes action as its fundamental concept, and Belief-Desire-Intention Logic deals with agents as goal-driven planners. We consider extensions of these formalisms that include reasoning about obligations and prohibitions, and discuss specific challenges such as the philosophical nature of negative actions, i.e., “not-acting’’. The course consists of lectures and tutorials where we work on exercises.
Knowledge of classical propositional logic. Familiarity with modal logic and axiomatic proof
systems is helpful but not required.
Exercise Tutorials to: Reasoning about action and agency in logic
van Berkel, Cornelis
This course consists of the exercise tutorials to the course “Reasoning about action and agency in logic”.
Bad Language: the meaning of insults, slurs, and bullshit
Traditionally, philosophy of language has focused on notions like reference and truth. However, much of our everyday language does not serve to describe reality: we use language to impress our peers and insult our opponents (you fool), to signal social belonging (we won), to express emotions (the damn laptop . . .), to be polite (‘weather’-talk), and to win time. Language can even be used to change reality: this is achieved by silencing inconvenient voices, by asking leading questions, and by using manipulative speech. The latter work by exploiting linguistic trust: In these cases, the speaker is not as cooperative, honest, or helpful as the listener takes them to be.
This seminar gives an introduction to non-idealized language use like the above, based on Cappelen & Dever’s introductory textbook Bad Language. Over the course of the semester, students will learn about Gricean communication, linguistic intention, context-dependence, and non-literal / social meaning.
History of Analytic Philosophy II
Analytic philosophy is widely thought to be the dominant approach in philosophy today. But what is analytic philosophy, and what distinguishes it from other currents of philosophy? We will approach answers to this question by looking at the development of the ‘later’ analytic philosophy from 1930 onwards. This period of analytic philosophy is often associated with the so-called “Ordinary Language Philosophy”, as it was significantly shaped by Ludwig Wittgenstein (in ‘Philosophical Investigations’) and John L. Austin. Numerous other philosophers who were under their more or less direct influence have further developed analytical and ordinary language philosophy, made it fruitful for new questions and also applied it to concrete problems: Next to Austin and Wittgenstein, we will also deal with the ideas of G.E.M. Anscombe, Philippa Foot, Iris Murdoch, Willard Van Ornam Quine and Gilbert Ryle.
This is the second part of the course on the “History of Analytic Philosophy”; the first part on the beginnings of analytic philosophy was taught by Simon Wimmer in the past winter semester 2022/23. Although this second part continues the first one historically, participation in the first part is not required for participation in the second part.
The seminar will be held in English. However, exams and questions may also be in German. In addition to the content-related learning goals, the seminar will also be about practising reading and discussing in English. Students who find their English to be somewhat ‘rusty’ are very welcome.
Hume on Religion
The seminar investigates David Hume’s (1711-1776) philosophy of religion. Hume was an important representative of the Scottish enlightenment and critic of religion. We will engage with four of Hume’s works, his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion, the chapter “Of Miracles” from his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, his book The Natural History of Religion, and excerpts from his Treatise of Human Nature.
In Hume’s Dialogues, Cleanthes (an enlightened theist), Philo (a skeptic), and Demea (a traditional theist) discuss the existence of God, focusing mainly on the argument for God’s existence from design and the problem of evil. “Of Miracles” contains Hume’s famous argument that God’s existence cannot be established by appeal to reports of miracles. In his Natural History of Religion, Hume provides a naturalistic explanation of the development of religion. He rejects the claim that religion is essential to morality and argues that indeed, religion is often detrimental to a person’s moral character. In his Treatise, he develops a purely naturalistic moral psychology that relies on our moral feelings.
Engaging with these different text will help students to gain an overview over Hume’s richly layered views on religion.
WM IIIc 1
Most of the literature on social cognition and interaction is focused on mindreading, our everyday practice to make sense of other people’s behavior via the attribution of mental states like beliefs, desires, and intentions. We can call this the epistemic function of our folkpsychology. Mindshaping, by contrast, refers to the practical function of folk-psychology, namely, to shape each other’s minds in contexts such as pedagogy, cultural learning by imitation, norm institution, narrative self-and group constitution.
In his book Mindshaping, Tadeusz Zawidzki develops this notion and relates it to the more familiar notion of mindreading.
In this seminar, we will study this book to become familiar with this important aspect of social cognition.
Mind and Time: Perception and the Flow of Experience
Our minds and cognitive processes are not atemporal. Cognitive and perceptual processes have a beginning and an end, and our experiences unfold in time. While we seem to perceive that time passes, it is not clear how to make sense of the temporal unfolding of our experiences, and to what extent this reflects the passing of time. In this seminar, we focus on the issue of the temporal unfolding of our perceptual experiences from the perspective of both philosophy and cognitive science. The seminar is divided into two parts. In the first part we will discuss selected philosophy classics on time perception, among them Aristotle, Augustine, Kant, James, and McTaggart. In the second part, we will focus on contemporary speculation about time consciousness, and discuss papers on the experience of time as well as studies on time illusions and on how the mind parses the world into events.
The problem of consciousness
Phenomenal consciousness is the form of consciousness corresponding to mental states such that there is “something it’s like to be in them” – mental states which feel like something for the subject. It is also known by other names such as “subjective experience”, “raw feelings”, or “qualitative consciousness”.
It is often thought to be a significant but mysterious feature of our mental lives. Some influential arguments and considerations have tried to show that this feature resists attempts at reducing it to material processes, such as brain processes. Consciousness seems unexplainable by appealing to features of the brain. At the same time, knowing whether or not phenomenal consciousness reduces to material processes (and which material processes) seems key, for instance, to discover which animals are conscious, or whether computers and robots can be conscious, etc.
This philosophy of mind seminar will explore the problem of consciousness, and examine major solutions to it, from materialist to non-materialist solutions, and including radical solutions – for example, solutions implying that consciousness is everywhere and is a fundamental aspect of reality, or, on the other hand, solutions implying that it is nowhere, and is nothing but an illusion.
This course will be taught in English.
Is the mind extended?
Where does the mind end and the world begin? This question about boundaries of mind, cognition, and consciousness have puzzled philosophers and cognitive scientists at least since Andy Clark and David Chalmers published their landmark paper “The extended mind” in 1998. At the core of their position is the claim that when it comes to the realization base of our cognitive processes, drawing the boundary either at the skull or at the body seems arbitrary and ill-founded. Rather, they claim, depending on the function or cognitive task involved, our cognitive processes can extend into tools like smartphones or hammers and others, possibly also virtual tools and sometimes other people, such that the mind can extend.
This year marks the 25th anniversary of this highly influential paper and we will discuss a variety of philosophical texts on this topic, some of them advancing and others criticizing the claim, starting with Clark and Chalmers’ paper.
The Social Mind
Interacting with other agents is a central part of our everyday lives insofar as we rely on others for information about the world and our social environment influence our possibilities for action and interaction. Other agents also serve as a mirror of our own behaviors and intentions and furthermore play a role in how we shape our beliefs and behavior. There are several key philosophical theories concerning social cognition that will form the core of this seminar. Some questions to be addressed in this seminar are: How do we think about other people’s minds? What cognitive capacities do we need to think about another agent’s mental states? Can nonhuman agents think about other minds?
VM IIIa 1
This lecture provides an (opinionated) overview of recent progress concerning some of the essential topics of epistemology. Those topics are
1.) Theories of Knowledge
2.) Theories of Belief and Truth
3.) Theories of Justification and Rationality.
4.) Sources of Knowledge/Justification
Special Topics in Philosophy of Science
Besides logic, epistemology and philosophy of language, philosophy of science is one of the core disciplines of theoretical philosophy. This seminar belongs to the lecture “General Philosophy of Science”; further information on the subjects are given there. The seminar extends and deepens special topics the lecture deals with. Therefore, attending makes only sense when you also visit the lecture. It is obligatory for starters of the master program HPS+. Depending on the attendees the language of the course will be German and/or English.
Writing a Bachelor or Master Thesis in English
Seselja, D.; Straßer, Ch.
In this course we will cover the basics of academic writing of philosophy theses and essays (including seminar papers, BA and MA theses), focusing on the following issues: How to structure and organize an academic article? How to concisely express the main theses and aims of the paper? How to develop strong arguments? How to find the relevant sources? And so forth.
The seminar is targeted at students who are in the process of writing a Bachelor or Master thesis, or who will do so soon.
Students have opportunities to present ideas and drafts of chapters. In the seminar these contributions will be examined in terms of academic language, argumentative structure, style, etc. Students will give (guided) peer review of the contributions.
The seminar will take place on Fridays, 14:15-15:45, as well as via individual (possibly online) coaching sessions.
Integrated History and Philosophy of Science
The method of historical case studies is one of the central methodological approaches employed by philosophers of science. As Imre Lakatos famously put it “Philosophy of science without history of science is empty; history of science without philosophy of science is blind.”. But how and why do we conduct historical case studies? Which philosophical questions can benefit from such inquiry, and which conceptual tools can help us to formulate fruitful answers? In this course students will learn the basics of Integrated History and Philosophy of Science (HPS). In particular, they will learn how to conduct historical case studies to tackle philosophical questions. The seminar will consist of three main blocks, as well as online coaching sessions in between them:
1. Introductory block (April 30): during the first block of the course we will discuss some paradigmatic papers in the field of HPS, as well as philosophical problems frequently mentioned within this literature (such as scientific rationality, scientific objectivity, scientific pluralism, etc.);
2. Work on case studies and further discussion (Jun 4): after the first block students will choose a historical case study on which they will work for the remainder of the course. Second block will be devoted to additional readings in HPS as well as short student presentations of the chosen case studies.
3. Final presentations (July 16): students will present results of their work on historical case studies during the final block.
VM IIIa 2
Research seminar on contradictory logics
This seminar is related to the ERC-Advanced Grant project ConLog, Contradictory Logics: A Radical Challenge to Logical Orthodoxy, and contributes to the idea of research-based learning. The seminar is open to M.A. students with an interest in philosophical logic, the philosophy of logic, and the philosophies of language and of science. In the 20th century, many systems of non-classical logic have been developed, including inconsistency-tolerant logics, which are typically all subsystems of classical logic. There are, however, logical systems that are radically different from classical logic insofar as they are nontrivial but contradictory. These logics are in glaring conflict with logical orthodoxy since Aristotle, who called the Principle of Non-Contradiction the firmest of all principles. Non-trivial contradictory logics not only permit inconsistencies in theories, but contain provable contradictions.
A prerequisite for a successful attendance in the seminar is some knowledge of non-classical logic and modal logic, including familiarity with Gentzen-style proof systems and Kripke models. We will discuss ongoing research into non-trivial contradictory logics and their applications in the philosophy of logic, and will read research papers, old and new, dealing with the notions of contradictoriness, consistency, negation, triviality, and related concepts. These papers may range from rather informal to formal studies. Students can earn credits by presenting a paper and will get detailed feedback. The seminar will continue to run over several semesters. From the winter term 2022/23 onwards, experimental work on the endorsement or rejection of certain logical principles will be included that play a crucial role in obtaining non-trivial negation-inconsistent logics.
VM IIIc 1
Consciousness, value, and moral status
Consciousness appears to be an important source of value. If we were not conscious – if we did not feel things, if we did not experience things – then it is not clear that our lives would still have the value they have. Similarly, it also seems like one of the most important sources – if not the source – of our moral status. The fact that we are conscious seems key to ground the fact that should be treated with a certain sort of moral consideration. Similarly, we take it that other conscious (or “sentient”) creatures, such as various non-human animals, deserve to be treated with a certain sort of moral consideration, precisely because they are conscious. Why does consciousness ground value and moral status? Which conscious experiences in particular play this sort of role? Can the view that consciousness ground value and moral status resist in front of various objections coming from materialist conceptions of the mind? How can this view help illuminate difficult cases, such as the case of the moral status of artificial intelligences, non-human animals, or humans with conditions responsible for impoverishment of consciousness?
This course will be taught in English. It will mainly (though not exclusively) be based on a reading of Joshua Shepherd’s book (see below).
Cognitive Systems and the Extended Mind
In this course, we will work through Rob Rupert’s 2009 ‘Cognitive Systems and the Extended Mind’. The book is a survey of philosophical issues that are faced by situated cognition with a particular focus on extended cognition – the view that cognitive processes extend beyond the boundary of the agent. The book deals, amongst other issues, with the problem of demarcation – the question about what is cognitive and what is not. Rupert argues that an extended approach to this problem is implausible. He posits a systems-based approach, i.e., the view that “a state is cognitive if and only if it consists in, or is realized by, the activation of one or more mechanisms that are elements of the integrated set members of which contribute causally and distinctively to the production of cognitive phenomena” (Rupert, 2009). We will critically examine this debate and evaluate the implication for both the situated and classical views in cognitive science.
Memory and Experience
Meaning in the Brain
Organisational remark: As part of the active participation, it will be mandatory to attend talks at a workshop on consciousness in animals and artificial systems, organized by Albert Newen and Wanja Wiese. The talks that all participants have to attend will take place on the 2nd of June 2023 at Ruhr University Bochum. In turn, some of the seminar’s sessions in June and July will be dropped.
Can artificial systems be conscious? If yes, how could we find out? Understanding consciousness in human and non-human animals is hard, but understanding artificial consciousness seems even harder. At the same time, rapid advances in AI and growing ethical concerns about the creation of artificial consciousness demand an answer to the question under what conditions consciousness should be ascribed to artificial entities.
The seminar has a systematic focus on contemporary philosophy of consciousness and machine ethics. We will first discuss theories and general problems of consciousness. We will then apply these to the question under what conditions artificial systems can be conscious. Finally, we will discuss ethical questions of artifcial consciousness: Would conscious artificial systems be able to suffer, perhaps in ways we cannot even imagine? Is the attempt to create conscious artificial systems unethical, or do the potential benefits outweigh the risks? What moral rights should conscious robots have? Could machines be moral agents and have moral responsibility?