HPS/PL 133: Philosophy and Neuroscience


Tuesdays 7-10pm

Steven Quartz, Dabney 209

Week 1: Introduction


Week 2 (Apr 3): The Social Brain and Other Minds

    Lieberman, Social Cognitive Neuroscience: A Review of Core Processes

    Singer, The neuronal basis and ontogeny of empathy and mind reading


Week 4 (Apr 17):  Reward, Value, and Decisions

            Schultz, W. Multiple Reward Signals in the Brain          

            Bechara, A. The role of emotion in decision making

             Kringelbach, The Human Orbitofrontal Cortex

Optional Reading, Fried, Syndrome E

Week 5 (Apr 24) The Social and Neural Self:

        Leary, Motivational and Emotional Aspects of the Self

        Atance, C. & O'Neill, D. Episodic Future Thinking

        Buckner, Self-Projection and the Brain

        Tangney, Moral Emotions and Moral Behavior (optional)


Week 6 (May 1): Moral Value I: Foundations

        Moll, the neural basis of moral cognition

        Greene, The neural basis of cognitive conflict and control in Moral Judgment


May 22 Class: combining Moral Value II and Free Will and Agency I: discussion question only for Moral Value II readings.

Moral Value II: Social

        Brennan & Petit, The Hidden Economy of Esteem

        Delgado, Perceptions of Moral Character

        Singer, Brain responses to the acquired moral status of faces

   Free Will and Agency 1

        Sapolsky, Frontal Cortex and the Criminal Justice System

        Greene, For the Law, Neuroscience Changes Everything and Nothing

        Goodenough, Responsibility and Punishment

May 29 Class

    Making the Right Choice

    If anyone is interested in the issue of conscious will, here is a suggested reading (NOT required for class). Illusion of Conscious Will


NEW PAPER DUE DATE: Saturday June 9. Papers can be emailed to me (by 8:00pm).

Suggested Paper Topics

1. Emotion vs. Reason. This topic can explore the changing view of the relationship between emotion and reason (cognition). What are emotions, what has brain science revealed about the role of emotions and what role do they play in decision-making? Topics could also explore such issues as whether computer science needs to seriously consider emotions in order to build intelligent machines (e.g., Marvin Minksy).

2. Ethics and the Brain. This topic area can explore the changing view of ethical decision-making. It could be a part of the emotion/reason topic as well.

3. Free Will, the brain, and the law. This topic area can look at the implications of brain science for the law (legal responsibility) or more generally for the capacity to make free choice. It could focus on such issues as the recent use of brain science as evidence in the Supreme Court's decision that the death penalty for minors is not constitutional. Or, it could  consider whether neuroscience could be used as a way to take into consideration various degrees of legal/moral responsibility.

4. Unconscious vs. conscious decision-making. Is it always better to make decisions based on conscious deliberation? How do problems of different complexity require different strategies?

5. Other topic areas are the implications of brain science for issues of privacy (what would happen if an employer asked for a brain scan)? Lie detection and brain imaging, brain imaging and predicting antisocial behavior.