University of London

Small Navigation Menu

Primary Menu

Philosophy of psychology

Available April 2021

This module will explore philosophical questions at the foundations of scientific psychology and cognitive science, focusing on the nature of mental representation.

Topics will include some or all of the following: the foundational premise that animal behaviour, and human behaviour in particular, can be explained in terms of mental representations; the nature of psychological explanation; mental imagery, the ‘Language of Thought' and cognitive maps; predictive coding and Bayesian models of the brain; the neural correlates of consciousness; the use of brain imaging to ascribe mental representations; mirror neurons and representations of others' minds; implicit attitudes and implicit bias.

Topics covered

This module will explore philosophical questions at the foundations of scientific psychology and cognitive science, focussing on the nature of mental representation. Topics will include some or all of the following:

  • The foundational premise that animal behaviour, and human behaviour in particular, can be explained in terms of mental representations
  • The nature of psychological explanation
  • Mental imagery, the ‘Language of Thought' and cognitive maps
  • Predictive coding and Bayesian models of the brain
  • The neural correlates of consciousness
  • The use of brain imaging to ascribe mental representations
  • Mirror neurons and representations of others' minds; 
  • Implicit attitudes and implicit bias.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to demonstrate the intellectual, transferable and practical skills appropriate to a Level 5 module. In particular, they will have:

  • Developed a capacity for developing and defending a philosophical argument.
  • Developed an ability to critically evaluate concepts, assumptions, and research methodologies in psychology and cognitive science.
  • Understood the nature of some central philosophical problems that arise in philosophy of psychology and cognitive science.
  • Encountered and critically evaluated a number of philosophical research articles.
  • Acquired an understanding of how philosophical theorising informs empirical research in the sciences of the mind, and vice versa.
  • Acquired an ability to relate questions discussed in this module to other modules.
  • Been encouraged to carefully read and critically engage with work in psychology and cognitive science.

Assessment

  • Coursework (30%)
  • Examination (70%)