Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri


000000 In/Humanity (Crone) 030095 Progress in Philosophy (Steinkrüger)
030111 Perceptual Learning (Vernazzani)
12-14 030088 Logic and Philosophical Methodology (Brössel) 030081 Experiential Knowledge and Expertise (Dings)
030112 Speaking about Speech: On the Varieties of Quotation (Werning) 030082 Formal Epistemology: Degrees of Rationality (Poth)
030115 Scientific Revolutions (De Benedetto)
030011 Philosophy of Cognitive Science (Schlicht) 030066 Argumentation (Seselja/Straßer)
030091 Research seminar on contradictory logics (Wansing) 030106 Memory and Imagination (Werning)
030064 Agent-based simulations in philosophy (Seselja/Straßer)
000000 History of Analytic Philosophy, Part 1 (Wimmer) 030094 Work in progress seminar in logic (Wansing/Omori)

030102 Minimal Models of Consciousness (Wiese)
000000 Justice and Natural Resources (Timmer)
16-18 030007 First Order Modal Logic (Kürbis)

030116 Perception in the context of Action and Cognition (Newen)
030103 Philosophy of Virtuality: From mirrors to the Matrix (Dolega)

Block: 030097 Proper Names (Rami), 13.-24.2.23. 14-17
Block: 030101 Introduction to Philosophy of Biology (Baedke), 6.-9.2.23, 10-16
Block: 030065 Fact-checking of Scientific Claims: a Philosophy of Science Perspective (Seselja), 23.10.22, 04.12.22, 28.01.23, 10-16

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)

Courses starting with number ‘000000’ take place in Dortmund. If you wish to participate, please contact: max DOT gab AT tu-dortmund DOT de.

Course descriptions


Logic and Philosophical Methodology

Brössel, P.

The aim of this course is to provide an overview of the fundamental philosophical methods relevant for theory construction in cognitive science and in philosophy. Students will acquire (i) basic competences in classical logic and probability theory, (ii) an introduction to methods of concept clarification such as conceptual analysis, explication, and explicit and implicit definitions and (iii) insights into the basics of constructing, testing, and revising theories and models within cognitive science and philosophy. A part of the course will be devoted to practical exercises to consolidate the acquired competencies. A precondition for receiving ECTS points is 1.) to submit weekly homework regularly and 2.) to pass the written exam at the end of the course.


  • Nolt J., Rohatyn D., Varzi A. 2011. Logic. Schaum’s Outlines.

Progress in Philosophy

Steinkrüger, P.

It is a question of debate when (and where) philosophy began, but it is generally agreed upon that it began more than two millenia ago. Given this sustained attempt at answering philosophical questions, one should expect to observe significant progress in the discipline. However, whether and how much progress there actually is, are controversial questions. According to some contemporary philosophers, e.g. Eric Dietrich, there is no progress in philosophy, according to others, e.g. David Chalmers, there is not much progress, at least when we consider the „big“ questions of philosophy. Such conclusions appear to call into question our continued engagement with philosophy and our attempt to find answers to philosophical questions: after all, if we weren’t able to make significant progress in more than 2.000 years, what are the chances that we will make progress now? In this seminar, we will survey and discuss some contemporary contributions on the issue.

Introduction to Philosophy of Biology

Baedke, J.

In the last decades, philosophy of science has moved on from the prevalent idea that physics constitutes the paradigmatic example of science. As a consequence, other disciplines became objects of philosophical investigations. This especially holds for biology, or the life sciences more generally, which many consider to become the leading science of the 21st century. Philosophy of biology is a relatively young and lively discipline. It deals with the conceptual and ontological foundations as well as the epistemic and methodological frameworks of the biosciences and (bio)medical sciences. It addresses questions like: What do central concepts like ‘selection’, ‘adaptation’, ‘organism’, or ‘environment’ actually mean? What is biological information or the unit of selection (the gene, organism or species)? What is the structure and character of explanations and theories in biology compared to other disciplines? Do genes determine our actions or do we control the actions of our genes? What is a biological individual, and are humans special ones? How does the social relate to the biological? What does/should the concept of race refer to?

By drawing on these and other topics the seminar will provide an introduction to central questions and problems in today’s philosophy of biology. In the seminar recent English publications in the field will be read and discussed. To pass the course, students must participate in the preliminary meeting (17.11.2022), actively partake in the discussions, and conduct a presentation (or take other course activities). No particular knowledge in biology is required.


Griffiths, Paul (2011): Philosophy of Biology. In: Zalta, Edward N. (eds.): The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2011 Edition). https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2011/entries/biology-philosophy/ [Online available; preparation literature]

Okasha, S (2019): Philosophy of Biology: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Griffiths, Paul & Sterelny, Kim (1999): Sex and Death: An Introduction to Philosophy of Biology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Krohs, Ulrich & Toepfer, Georg (eds.) (2005): Philosophie der Biologie. Eine Einführung. Frankfurt/M.: Suhrkamp. [German Edition]


Seselja, D. / Straßer, Ch.

Philosophy and science are based on argumentation. Instead of just voicing opinions or stating beliefs, scholars give reasons and provide evidence for their conclusions. Argumentation is key when trying to find a consensus, or at least when identifying the roots of a disagreement. As such, it is central in many areas, from everyday life to political discourse. Needless to say, good argumentative skills are a necessary requirements for successful studies (in essay and thesis writing, for instance).

In this course we will survey different facets of argumentation theory. We start off with foundations (argument schemes such as the Toulmin scheme, fallacy theory, types of arguments, etc.) and proceed towards contemporary investigations (e.g.: computational argumentation; Bayesian and probabilistic argumentation; pragma-dialectics; reasoning and biases; etc.). Finally, we will look into practical applications of argumentation, for example, in the context of structured debating as well as in the context of online debates.

Fact-checking of Scientific Claims: a Philosophy of Science Perspective

Seselja, D.

Contemporary social discourse has been flooded by fake news, echo-chambers, epistemic bubbles and other epistemically pernicious processes. Scientifically relevant information has not be spared: from `anti-vaxxers’ to climate-change deniers, disinformation has also had an effect on scientifically relevant news.

To combat such issues, social media have introduced the practice of `fact-checking’. However, fact-checking of scientific claims can be challenging. To begin with, neither does the frontier of scientific research typically produce `facts’, nor can such claims easily be `checked’. Ongoing inquiry, often pervaded by scientific disagreements and controversies, is characterized by incomplete or conflicting evidence, and hence by a high degree of risk and uncertainty. At the same time, an unhinged spread of false or deceptive information can easily have numerous harmful consequences, including the loss of public trust in science.

In this course we will start from the philosophical discussions on the evaluation of scientific hypotheses, and the role of values in scientific inquiry. In addition, we will look into recent controversies surrounding the fact-checking of scientific claims. Throughout the course, students will work in teams, where each team will choose a case-study to research. The result of the research will be presented in the final block. The course will consist of three blocks, to be held on Saturdays (the first block will be held in late October; the exact date will be agreed upon via email). In addition, teams will have coaching sessions in between the blocks.

Experiential Knowledge and Expertise

Dings, R.

Many people have the intuition that undergoing a particular experience may lead to unique and important insights. This intuition has important ramifications for several societal domains including mental health care. For instance, it suggests that someone who has experienced depression has unique and important insights into depression. In this seminar we will draw on philosophical research to critically evaluate this intuition and its ramifications. In particular we will investigate three main components associated with this trend: Experience, Knowledge and Expertise. Questions to be addressed include: what sort of knowledge (if any) can be derived from particular experiences? How does this knowledge relate to other forms of knowledge, e.g. scientific knowledge? What elements of experience (e.g. its phenomenality) form the basis for such knowledge? What are the characteristics of the kind of expertise that is presupposed in recent mental health care developments?

History of Analytic Philosophy, Part 1

Wimmer, S.

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 attempt to answer this question by returning to a crucial period in the development of analytic philosophy: the 1900s to 1930s. In that period, Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, among others, are thought to have laid the foundations of analytic philosophy. To better understand the foundations of analytic philosophy, we will situate these figures within a wider intellectual context that includes both important female philosophers like Emily Elizabeth Constance Jones, Dorothy Wrinch, Susanne Langer, and Susan Stebbing as well as philosophers within the Oxford Realist tradition that anticipate crucial developments in later analytic philosophy. Topics we will discuss include the distinctions between sense/reference and appearance/reality, the nature of belief and judgment, the relation between propositions and facts, and the method of philosophical analysis. Later developments in analytic philosophy will be the topic of a further course, to be offered in Summer semester 2023 by Jasmin Trächtler.

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.

Justice and Natural Resources

Timmer, D.

Struggles over precious resources such as oil, gas, water, and land are increasingly evident in the contemporary world. States, indigenous groups, and corporations vie to control access to those resources, and the benefits they provide. These conflicts are rapidly spilling over into new arenas, such as the deep oceans and the Polar regions. How should these precious resources be governed, and how should the benefits and burdens they generate be shared? In this seminar we will read Chris Armstrong’s book Justice and Natural Resources (2017). This book provides a systematic theory of natural resource justice. It argues that we should use the benefits and burdens flowing from these resources to promote greater equality across the world, and share governance over many important resources. At the same time, the book takes seriously the ways in which particular resources can matter in peoples lives. It provides invaluable guidance on a series of pressing issues, including the scope of state resource rights, the claims of indigenous communities, rights over ocean resources, the burdens of conservation, and the challenges of climate change and transnational resource governance. It will be required reading for anyone interested in natural resource governance, climate politics, and global justice.


  • Armstrong, Chris. 2017. Justice and Natural Resources: An Egalitarian Theory. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Selected articles.

Philosophy of Virtuality: From mirrors to the Matrix

Dolega, K.

Virtual entities are part of our everyday lives. We interact with them directly in the guise of virtual assistants, virtual machines, or VR helmets, as well as indirectly, by consuming media and participating in the discourse about the possible promises and dangers of virtual realities.

Although our everyday use of the notion of virtuality can be traced all the way back to the beginning of the XX century and the work of Charles Sanders Peirce, the concept itself has received relatively little attention from philosophers in the analytic tradition. Meanwhile, the notion of virtuality explored by Giles Deleuze and other thinkers in the continental tradition has become divorced from our day-to-day use. However, the recent boom in personal technologies employing elements of virtual and augmented reality, the commonplace conception of virtuality has once again become the object of intense scrutiny for philosophers coming from different backgrounds.

The aim of this course is to look at different notions of virtuality across philosophy and technology in order to probe metaphysical and epistemological issues surrounding virtual entities and virtual realities. In particular, we will explore whether it is possible to arrive at one concept of virtuality, which can be legitimately applied across multiple disciplines and contexts.

Some of the questions we will be trying to answer are:

  • What does it mean for an entity to be virtual?
  • Is the term ‘virtual’ used in the same way across different disciplines and contexts?
  • Are virtual objects, properties, states, experiences real?
  • How is\can the notion of virtuality be employed in different branches of philosophy?


  • Metzinger, T. (2018). Why Is Virtual Reality Interesting for Philosophers? Frontiers in Robotics and AI, 5: 101. https://doi.org/10.3389/frobt.2018.00101
  • Chalmers, D.J. (2022). Reality+: Virtual Worlds and the Problems of Philosophy. W. W. Norton (US) and Allen Lane (UK). Intro and chapter one available here: http://consc.net/reality+/excerpt.pdf
  • Chalmers, D.J. (2022). The Virtual and the Real. Disputatio, 9(46): 309-352. http://consc.net/papers/virtual.pdf


Proper Names

Rami, D.

Since the pioneering work of Mill, Frege and Russell, proper names are a central topic of (analytic) philosophy. These expressions seem to be, on the one hand, the paradigm example of a singular referring term and they, therefore, represent an important aspect of language-world connections. On the other hand, these expressions are relative to their paradigm use apparently semantically simple, but they have a large number of non-paradigm and puzzling uses. In this lecture, I will provide a mixture of a historical and systematic overview of (a) the most important challenges with respect to the semantics, pragmatics and metaphysics of names and (b) the most important views on proper names in the philosophy of language and linguistics.


  • S. A. Kripke: Naming & Necessity, Blackwell 1980.
  • F. Recanati: Direct Reference, Blackwell 1993.
  • M. Sainsbury: Reference without Referents, Oxford, 2005.
  • D. Rami: Names & Context, Bloomsbury 2021.

First Order Modal Logic

Kürbis, N.

Ways the world might have been, what could or could not have been the case, what is contingent, possible, impossible or necessary: these matters enter into almost every area of philosophy. In metaphysics and philosophical logic they are crucial. Modal logic is the framework for dealing with these matters in a precise and systematic way. The course presents various formal systems of propositional and quantified modal logic and possible worlds semantics for them and introduces the technique of modal tableaux to decide modal consistency and validity. Their varying metaphysical presuppositions and commitments will be discussed. We will apply the systems to the analysis of concepts of necessity and possibility important in metaphysics and epistemology: alethic, epistemic, doxastic, deontic, temporal. The notions of existence and essence will come under scrutiny as well as topics relating to the philosophy of language, such as rigid designation and definite descriptions.

The course follows Fitting and Mendelsohn’s textbook (see below). Some additional topics, such as natural deduction for modal logic, will also be covered.


  • M. Fitting & R. L. Mendelsohn, First-Order Modal Logic, Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998.
  • G. E. Hughes and M. J. Cresswell: An Introduction to Modal Logic, Routledge, 1996


Memory and Imagination

Werning, M.

The Philosophy of Memory can be traced backed as early as Plato who postulated memory traces by likening memory to the imprints of sense impressions on a wax tablet. The current philosophical debate on memory is dominated by two camps. On one side, we face the Causal Theory that holds on to the idea that remembering requires a memory trace that causally links the event of remembering to the event of perception and carries over representational content from the content of perception to the content of remembering (Martin & Deutscher, 1966). On the other side, a new camp of Simulationists is currently forming up, spearheaded by Michaelian (2016) and Addis (2018). They argue that remembering is nothing, but a specific form of imagination. As a third option, Werning (2020) has developed an account of minimal traces devoid of representational content. It exploits an analogy to a predictive processing framework of perception and also accounts for the different perspectives one can assume in memories (Peeters, Cosentino, & Werning, 2022).

The seminar will provide an overview of the current research literature on memory and imagination, in philosophy, psychology and neuroscience. Students will have the opportunity to link up with our DFG research group “Constructing Scenarios of the Past”.

Aside from active participation, participants will be expected to give a presentation in English. Assistance regarding the English language will be provided. Teaching will be assisted by Francesca Righetti.


  • Addis, D. R. (2018). Are episodic memories special? On the sameness of remembered and imagined event simulation. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 48, 64–88.
  • Martin, C. B., & Deutscher, M. (1966). Remembering. Philosophical Review, 75, 161–196.
  • Michaelian, K. (2016). Mental Time Travel: Episodic Memory and Our Knowledge of the Personal Past. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Peeters, A., Cosentino, E., & Werning, M. (2022). Constructing a wider view on memory – Beyond the dichotomy of field and observer perspectives. In A. Berninger & Í. V. Ferran (Eds.), Memory and Imagination. London: Routledge.
  • Werning, M. (2020). Predicting the Past from Minimal Traces: Episodic Memory and its Distinction from Imagination and Preservation. Review of Philosophy and Psychology, 11, 301–333.

Minimal Models of Consciousness

Wiese, W.

Despite much progress in the science of consciousness, the field is far from finding a consensus on even fundamental questions and problems. This can be seen by considering how many competing theories of consciousness there are, and how difficult it is to test and empirically compare them.

On the one hand, a plausible reaction to this situation is to try and make theories more specific and to derive empirically testable predictions that can differentiate between theories of consciousness.

On the other hand, the need to determine whether non-human animals (and, potentially, artificial systems) are conscious, seems to require more general, minimalist approaches, that abstract away from the specific neuronal mechanisms underlying consciousness in human beings.

In this seminar, we will first gain an overview over major theoretical approaches in the science of consciousness. Then we will investigate how to taxonomise minimalist approaches and how to assess their specific virtues. Finally, we will explore ways in which the relationship between minimal models and theories of consciousness can be conceived: are they independent, complementary, or in opposition?


  • Birch, J. (2022). The search for invertebrate consciousness. Noûs, 56(1), 133–153. https://doi.org/10.1111/nous.12351
  • Metzinger, T. (2020). Minimal phenomenal experience. Philosophy and the Mind Sciences, 1(I), 1–44. https://doi.org/10.33735/phimisci.2020.I.46
  • Seth, A. K., & Bayne, T. (2022). Theories of consciousness. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 1–14. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41583-022-00587-4
  • Wiese, W. (2020). The science of consciousness does not need another theory, it needs a minimal unifying model. Neuroscience of Consciousness, 2020(1), niaa013. https://doi.org/10.1093/nc/niaa013

Philosophy of Cognitive Science

Schlicht, T.

This lecture series offers an introduction to some of the central topics in Philosophy of Cognitive Science, focusing on explanatory paradigms (classical cognitivism, enactivism, predictive processing), cognitive phenomena (intentionality, consciousness, free will, articificial intelligence) and and central notion like representation, computation.


  • Young, B., Dicey Jennings, C. (eds.) (2022) Mind, Cognition and Neuroscience. A philosophical introduction. London: Routledge.


Crone, K.

Acts of violence against others often presuppose to view them as less than human. This attitude is called “dehumanization”. Dehumanization is a phenomenon that finds its most horrifying expression in, for instance, genocidal attacks, lynchings, and colonial cruelties. Crucially, dehumanization is not an attitude that can only be found in aggressors or psychopaths. Tendencies that make dehumanization possible are rather widespread in ordinary people rooted in their psychological structure due to, e.g., implicit prejudice towards members of certain groups. This fact makes it all the more imperative to understand the nature and structure of dehumanization in order to be able to resist it.

Most of the discussion in our seminar will be based on David Livingstone Smith’s On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It (OUP 2020). The e-book will be available as a download in the library.


  • Livingstone Smith, David (2020) On Inhumanity: Dehumanization and How to Resist It, Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Agent-based simulations in philosophy

Seselja, D. / Straßer, Ch.

In recent years digital aspects have entered philosophy, both in terms of providing a plethora of new topics and by providing new perspectives on old questions. Moreover, the digital age also equips philosophy with new computational methods for tackling philosophical questions, such as computer simulations. This course is dedicated to this topic.

Computer simulations in the form of agent-based models (ABMs) have in recent years become a popular method in philosophy, particularly in social epistemology, philosophy of science and political philosophy. In this course we discuss some of the central philosophical questions studied by means of ABMs. For instance, can groups of rational agent polarize, if yes, under which conditions? Can groups composed of agents that reason individually fully rationally (e.g., according to Bayesian standards) still be inefficient as a group? If yes, how so? Other topics concern questions from social epistemology and philosophy of science, such as the division of cognitive labor, cognitive diversity and expertise, opinion dynamics, etc.

The course will cover some of the most prominent modeling frameworks used in the philosophical literature and beyond.

Moreover, we will critically discuss the epistemic status of such models. For instance, given their often highly idealized nature, one may critically ask whether these models provide any, and if so, which kind of insights and explanations.

Scientific Revolutions

De Benedetto, M.

This course will focus on scientific revolutions, i.e. extremely radical episodes of conceptual change in science somehow analogous to political revolutions. We will analyze the existence, the structure, and the philosophical significance of scientific revolutions, focusing specifically on their implications for ideals of scientific progress, rationality, and objectivity. In the first half of the course, we will study in detail Kuhn’s epoch-making book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”, while in the second one we will analyze how contemporary philosophy of science built upon specific aspects of Kuhn’s account of scientific revolutions such as the value-ladenness of scientific theory choice, the special character of paradigm change, the constitutive a priori in science, the backward character of scientific progress, and the question of scientific relativism


  • Hoyningen-Huene, P., 1993, Reconstructing Scientific Revolutions: Thomas S. Kuhn’s Philosophy of Science, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • Friedman, M., 2001, Dynamics of Reason, Stanford: CSLI Publications.
  • Hacking, I. (ed.), 1981, Scientific Revolutions, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Kuhn, T.S., 1970, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962. 2nd enlarged ed.
  • Kuhn, T.S, 1977, The Essential Tension, Chicago: University of Chicago Press

Formal Epistemology: Degrees of Rationality

Poth, N.

This seminar is a study of Julia Staffel’s book “Unsettled Thoughts: a theory of degrees of rationality” (2019, OUP). The book investigates the rationality of human reasoning under uncertainty from a normative perspective. It critically evaluates the mainstream approach in formal epistemology, which assesses human reasoning with models of ideally rational agents . However, as psychological research shows, humans are far from being ideal thinkers. Mainstream suggests that the more a thinker’s degrees of belief approximate the ideal norms, the better. But what exactly does this mean? What does being closer to ideally rational amount to? Unsettled Thoughts provides novel ways to understand and answer these questions. Staffel argues that rational degrees of belief are more accurate and better at guiding our actions. As a main source of argumentation and to make these answers precise, the book relies on formal tools from epistemology, including Bayesianism.

Participants will learn about cutting-edge research on human (ir)rationality from the perspective of formal epistemology, to systematically analyse and engage with the philosophical arguments in the book, and to develop and clearly present their own views about them in mutual discussions. Knowledge in logic or formal epistemology is recommended but not required. The book does a great job at clarifying complex issues in non-formal terms and with many examples.

Participants will engage partly in self-study, partly in meetings to discuss chapters from the book and complete short assignments in Moodle, where supplementary material will also be made available. To obtain ECTS, participants can give presentations on a chapter of their choice. Participants can receive grades by additionally writing an essay (Hausarbeit). Toward the end of the semester, Professor Staffel will herself visit the seminar and students have the opportunity to directly exchange views with her.


  • Staffel, J. (2019). Unsettled Thoughts: A Theory of Degrees of Rationality . Oxford University Press.


Research seminar on contradictory logics

Wansing, H.

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 non-trivial 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.

Work in progress seminar in logic

Wansing, H. / Omori, H.

In this seminar students are given the opportunity to present on a regular basis progress they are making in logic related projects they are currently working on, and to discuss their research problems, methods, and ideas. The intervals for reporting on own writings or presenting and discussing relevant papers and the length of the reports and presentations may vary and will depend on the needs of the participants.

Speaking about Speech: On the Varieties of Quotation

Werning, M.

It has been noticed since antiquity that speaking about speech leads to very puzzling problems in philosophy, logic, linguistics, literature studies, and cognitive science. The famous liar paradox is only one of them. There are many varieties of quotation in natural language, ranging from pure quotation (“Man” has three letters) and direct quotation (“That’s ridiculous,” said Mary) to indirect discourse (Mary said that that was ridiculous) and the ubiquitous phenomenon of “mixed quotation” – Mary said that that’s “ridiculous” (Cappelen & Lepore, 2007). It however also includes less well studied phenomena like scare quotes, free indirect discourse (Maier, 2015), protagonist projection and the role shift in sign language. In a wider sense even psychological phenomena like introspection or second-order thoughts might be regarded as quotations of one’s own thoughts in thought (Werning, 2010).

Over the past twenty years it has become increasingly clear that quotation challenges fundamental assumptions about (i) the semantics-pragmatics interface, (ii) the use-mention dichotomy, (iii) the nature of context shift (Recanati, 2010); and (iv) compositionality (Werning, 2005). In the seminar we will address these issues and try to close up with contemporary debates in research.

Aside from active participation, participants will be expected to give a presentation in English. Assistance regarding the English language will be provided.


  • Cappelen, H., & Lepore, E. (2007). Language Turned on Itself: The Semantics and Pragmatics of Metalinguistic Discourse. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Maier, E. (2015). Quotation and Unquotation in Free Indirect Discourse. Mind & Language, 30, 345–373.
  • Recanati, F. (2010). Truth-Conditional Pragmatics. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199226993.001.0001
  • Werning, M. (2005). Right and wrong reasons for compositionality. In M. Werning, E. Machery, & G. Schurz (Eds.), The Compositionality of Meaning and Content (Vol. I, pp. 285–309). Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag.
  • Werning, M. (2010). Descartes discarded? Introspective self-awareness and the problems of transparency and compositionality. Consciousness and Cognition, 19, 751–761.


Perception in the context of Action and Cognition

Newen A.

The key question is: What is the nature of perception? We start with an overview of different theoretical approaches characterizing perception either (a) as an input module which should be separated from cognition and action (the so-called sandwich model) or (b) as an ability which is coupled with action such that we always need to account for interdependencies of perception-action and cognition (coupling model). After clarifying the theoretical framework we focus on discussing different central dimensions of perception: (1) the phenomenological perspective: What is constitutive of visual perception? What is its relation to touch? What is the difference between perception and imagination? And what the one between picture perception and ordinary perception of objects in the flesh? What is perceptual presence? (2) the perception-action interdependence: How does perception guide action? Does action influence perception? Can perception be a form of action? How do we spot affordances, i.e. action possibilities? (3) The cognition-perception interdependence: Is perception decoupled from (higher-order) cognition like beliefs, desires, conceptual representations? Can it be shaped or influenced by cognition (cognitive penetration)? At what level does this influence occur? The seminar aims to discuss these three systematic perspectives and provide an overview of the recent debates.

Perceptual Learning

Vernazzani, A.

Recent studies in philosophy and psychology suggest that our perceptual capacities and experiences are not biologically fixed but can, to some extent, be modified through training and other factors. Typically, perceptual learning is defined as an acquired long-lasting capacity to differentiate or discriminate among similar stimuli, unitize or “chunk” different elements into a single unit, or attentional tuning. This interesting phenomenon raises, however, a number of questions: Are the changes genuinely perceptual or rather cognitive? What is the role of attention in perceptual learning? How should we interpret perceptual learning in relation to the perception/cognition divide? Instances of perceptual learning are usually considered as positive acquisitions that lead to better task-performances, but can perceptual learning also have negative side-effects? With the aid of some key texts in philosophy and psychology, we will discuss different aspects of perceptual learning.


Learning material will be made available on Moodle by the course instructor.

By way of introduction, I recommend:

Adrienne Prettyman (2019) “Perceptual Learning” WIREs Cognitive Science 10, e1489. https://doi.org/10.1002/wcs.1489.