FIL2108 – The Philosophy of Psychology

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

In this course, you will engage in more depth with issues in the philosophy of mind as well as with philosophical questions at the foundations of scientific psychology, cognitive science, and the neurosciences. It focuses on core topics in the philosophy of psychology and cognitive science.

On the one hand, the course will engage with philosophical questions **about** psychology. We will, for example, consider the nature of psychological explanation, the relationship between psychological and neuroscientific explanations, the nature and the role of mental representations, predictive coding and Bayesian models of the brain.

On the other hand, we will look at how, if at all, psychological research can help to answer traditional philosophical questions. Case studies may include: rationality, animal minds, the nature of concepts, psychiatric disorders, the self, moral psychology, or consciousness.

We will consider questions like these: Do chimpanzees, birds, or lobsters feel pain? How can we study consciousness scientifically? Are we, humans, rational (could science show that we are not)? What does the theory evolution tell us about the way we think and act? Does thinking happen in a kind of language? What can brain imaging tell us about the mind? Does cognition happen only in the brain, or might it be "extended" to include the body and environment? What is the relationship between our cognitive and our social capacities? How should we understand implicit attitudes and implicit bias?

Learning outcome

The aim is to give the participants:

  • an in-depth knowledge of some central issues in philosophy of psychology and cognitive science
  • the ability to analyse different philosophical views on the topics covered
  • the ability to express themselves in academic forms, both orally and in writing.


Recommended previous knowledge

Recommended previous knowledge

A basic knowledge in philosophy of mind as offered in FIL1001 – Innføring i metafysikk og bevissthetsfilosofi.


12 double sessions which will be a combination of seminars and lectures. The course has the following compulsory tuition activities:

  • 10 brief, weekly assignments of about a half page, of which at least 6 must be submitted and approved (accepted as satisfactory) by the teacher.

The compulsory activities are only valid the semester you complete the course.


Examination support material

A portfolio exam consisting of two parts comprising in all 10-12 pages: One short analytical response to an article or argument (3-4 pages) and an essay (6-7 pages), to be submitted through Inspera. Grading is based on an over-all assessment. When you write an essay you are entitled to receive individual tutoring. This however requires that you submit the obligatory draft to your teacher.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Autumn 2020


Autumn 2020

Teaching language


Norwegian or English. The course will be taught in English in the fall of 2020.