This seminar explores the intricate nature of mental representations, delving into key philosophical debates and contemporary theories. We begin by examining the mechanisms underlying mental representations, addressing issues of intentionality and content. The Language of Thought Hypothesis is scrutinized as we explore whether mental processes rely on a symbolic language. We then navigate the question of whether machines can truly think, considering computational models and their limitations.

The course transitions to explore connectionist, dynamic, and Bayesian models of thought, evaluating their implications for understanding cognitive processes. Finally, we investigate reductive and non-reductive approaches to explaining mental representations, considering the challenges of reducing mental phenomena to neural or computational mechanisms. Throughout, students engage in critical discussions, analysing foundational texts and recent literature, fostering a nuanced understanding of the complexities surrounding mental representations in contemporary philosophy of mind.

As we navigate an increasingly interconnected world, understanding the social dimensions of knowledge becomes essential. This reading course immerses students in the rich interdisciplinary field of social epistemology. The central theme of this course is examining how social epistemology intersects with the practical aspects of coexisting in a shared social space, individuals and communities. Drawing on insights from philosophy of mind, sociology, and cognitive science, students will critically examine how knowledge is shaped, validated, and distributed within social groups, exploring key concepts such as collective belief and testimony. We will explore the role of shared knowledge in fostering cooperation and oppression, resolving conflicts, building trust or suspicion within diverse communities, addressing ethical considerations, and emphasizing the responsibilities of creating and disseminating knowledge in collective contemporary contexts.

In this course we will look at a selection of some well-known as well as some fairly new topics at the intersection of philosophy, game theory, robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI). Is technology merely a tool we use or does it shape our lives in more profound ways? ▪ Can persons exist as digital entities? ▪ Will people cooperate with or exploit artificial agents? ▪ Can recommendation engines lie? ▪ How can the use of drones in warfare affect how wars are waged? ▪ Should we develop sex robots? ▪ How to reconcile privacy, liberty, and the benefits of facial recognition technology? 

These are the type of the questions that we'll look at in this course. An interdisciplinary approach that combines philosophy, psychology, game theory, and computer science, with a good dash of science fiction, to study these questions is gaining popularity. This course will invite students to explore how these disciplines mingle in tackling the above questions and why tackling them is important in the first place. We will cover topics ranging from some of the well-known philosophical and ethical concerns regarding our use and reliance on technology to very recent developments at the intersection of behavioural game theory and human-AI interaction.

Is there a formal way to study our decisions and tell if and when our choices are rational? ▪ What does game theory have to say about how we interact with others and what can we learn about our behaviour from game theory experiments? ▪ How do social norms shape our behaviour and what insights can we draw from models of biological and cultural evolution? ▪ Should governments use experimental psychology research to “nudge" people into eating healthy, saving for retirement, donating organs, and other forms of seemingly desirable behaviour? ▪ Why do we sometimes lack self-control and what do we do about it?

These are some questions that we'll look at in this course. An interdisciplinary approach that combines philosophy, economics, psychology, and computer science in the study of these questions is presently gaining popularity. This course will introduce students to decision-theoretic and game-theoretic study of rational choice and social interaction. We will cover topics ranging from well known philosophical riddles concerning the foundations of rational choice theory to very recent developments in behavioural game theory concerning modes of reasoning that people use in interactive decision-making.

The course is aimed at upper level undergraduate and postgraduate students in philosophy, economics, and other areas of research that have an interest in formal analysis of human decision making. The course doesn't require prior knowledge of decision theory, game theory, or economics, and all key concepts will be introduced and explained in course meetings. Basic knowledge of introductory material in these fields will help as well as a general aptitude for working with numbers and probabilities (basic math).