Academic year
Daniel Morgan and David Lobina
Department of Philosophy
Universitat de Barcelona
Master courses
Module 4. Language and Mind
2017-02-23 - 2017-06-01
Thu. 10-12:30
UB, Faculty of Philosophy, room 412


Structure and Contents (NB: these contents might change prior to the start of the course):


Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of the mind. The approach to the mind in this course will draw on philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. Two broad aspects of the mind will be covered: perceiving (e.g., smelling a rose, hearing a sound) and thinking (e.g., making a mathematical judgement, trying to follow an argument, making a judgement about whether someone is trust-worthy). On a stereotypical view of both, these seem rather dissimilar mental processes. Stereotypically, perception is a relatively low-level mental process, perhaps common to humans and other animal species. By contrast, thinking is a high-level cognitive achievement, perhaps unique to humans, and characterized by impressively sophisticated reason-guided, rule-governed processes that involve deploying concepts.


Much recent philosophical and empirical literature complicates this picture. Perception doesn’t seem entirely insulated from cognition. What concepts a thinker has seems to impact on what their perception is like. Learning to recognize a particular species of plant might impact on whether your perceptions can register the presence of that particular species, for example (this kind of issue is discussed in weeks 1-7). Coming in the other direction, much of our thinking seems to fall short of the traditional normative ideal. Much thinking seems to be the product of a system (often called ‘System 1’) that works through fast, rough ‘rules of thumb’ rather than explicit arguments – rather like perception, in fact (weeks 8-10). Should accepting that much of our thinking is like this make us less confident in it? And how does such System 1-thinking fit together with thinking that really is the product of a reason-guised and rule-governed system? (often called ‘System 2’)? How should an individual agent respond in cases where they are aware that the two systems support different verdicts, as for example in a case where someone explicitly rejects a particular bias (concerning, for example, race or gender) but finds compelling evidence that that bias is nevertheless guiding their thinking (weeks 11-13).


Course outline:


1. Introduction to Cognitive Science


- Pylyshyn, Z. (1999). What’s in your mind? In Lepore & Pylyshyn (eds.) What is

Cognitive Science? John Wiley and Sons, pp. 1-26.


- Davies, M. (2005). Cognitive Science. In Jackson & Smith (eds.) The Oxford Handbook of Contemporary Analytic Philosophy. Oxford University Press, pp. 358-396.


2. Modularity and Cognitive Architecture


- Fodor, J. (1985) Précis of The Modularity of Mind. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, vol. 8, 1-42.  


- Samuels, R. (2006) Is the mind massively modular? In R. Stainton (ed.) Contemporary Debates in Cognitive Science. Oxford University Press, pp. 37-56.


3. The content of perception: The liberalism vs. conservatism debate


- Susanna Siegel (2006) Which properties are represented in perception? In Gendler & Hawthorne (eds.) Perceptual Experience. Oxford University Press, pp. 481-503.


4. Cognitive Penetration


- Pylyshyn, Z. (1999). Is vision continuous with cognition? The case for cognitive

impenetrability of visual perception. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22: 341–365.


5. Concepts and Categorization


- Rosch, E. (1978) Principles of Categorization. In Margolis & Laurence (eds.) Concepts: Core Readings. MIT Press, pp. 189-206.


- Prinz, J. (2002) Furnishing the Mind: Concepts and their Perceptual basis, MIT Press, Chapter 2.


6. The Structure of Concepts: From the Classical to Atomism


- Fodor, J. (1998) Concepts. Oxford University Press, chapters 1-5.


And/or: Fodor, J. (2004) Having Concepts: A Brief Refutation of the Twentieth Century. Mind and Language, 19 (1), pp. 29-47 PLUS Fodor’s Replies from the same issue (pp. 99-112).


7. Tutorial Session



EASTER BREAK- no session on April the 13th



8. Two Systems Theory: Psychological Data I

- Tversky, Amos and Kahneman, Daniel (1974). Judgment under Uncertainty: Heuristics and Biases. Science, New Series, Vol. 185, No 4157. (Sep. 27, 1974), pp 1124-1131.



9. Two Systems Theory: Psychological Data II


- Tversky, Amos and Kahenman, Daniel (1983). Extensional versus intuitive reasoning: the conjunction fallacy in probability judgment. Psychological Review 1983 vol: 90 (4) pp. 293-315.


10. Two Systems Theory: Philosophical Issues


- Frankish, Keith (2009) Systems and levels: Dual systems theories and the personal-subpersonal distinction. In J. Evans and K.Frankish (eds.), In Two Minds: Dual Processes and Beyond, Oxford University Press.


11. Implicit Attitudes


- Tamar Szabo Gendler (2014) The Third Horse: On Unendorsed Association and Human Behavior. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 88 (1): 185-218.


12. Implicit Attitudes in Philosophy


- Saul, Jennifer (forthcoming): ‘Implicit Bias, Stereotype Threat and Women in Philosophy’, forthcoming in Women in Philosophy: What Needs to Change? Edited by Fiona Jenkins and Katrina Hutchison, Oxford University Press.


13. Implicit Attitudes and Moral Responsibility


- Levy, Neil (2012): ‘Consciousness, Implicit Attitudes and Moral Responsibility’ Nous, 48: 21-40.




13. Temptation and Judgment-shift.


- Holton, Richard (2009):  ‘Temptation’, chapter five of Willing, Wanting, Waiting, Oxford University Press.


14. Essay Clinic


Course Aims and Objectives: The course aims to provide an understanding of two central aspects of mind – perceiving and thinking – with reference to recent philosophical and empirical literature.


Assessment: 10% for participation; 90% for a 3000-word essay.