Center for Neurophilosophy and Ethics of Neurosciences
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Seminars and lectures summer term 2014

Lecture: Neurophilosophy - Human Agency
Prof. Dr. Stephan Sellmaier

Summer 2014 Thursday, 14:15-15:45
LMU main building, M105

Introduction to Neurophilosophy
Dr. Michael von Grundherr

Summer 2014 Tuesday, 9:00-13:00 (first part of term, 08 April - 03 June 2014)
Biocenter Martinsried, D00.003

This course provides an introduction to core topics of neurophilosophy (mind-body problem, consciousness, freedom, neuroethics) and to philosophical reading and writing techniques. First, there will be a combination of short lectures and text-based discussions. In the second part of the semester, students will write a short essay and discuss it in tutorials.

Heuristics: Shepherd or a Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?
Prof. Dr. Stephan Sellmaier, Janett Triskiel M.A.

Summer 2014 Tuesday, 14:15-15:45
LMU main building, M210

In the history of philosophy there has been a significant dispute about the question whether morality is originated in reason alone or if it is, at least partly, driven by sentiment. While the so called rationalists and sentimentalist haven´t come to an agreement in early modern philosophy, contemporary positions are more or less moderate in assuming that both reason and emotion influence moral judgment. However, what precise role reason and emotion play in moral judgment still remains unclear. Remarkably, the historical dispute echoes in moral psychology. Beginning with Piaget and Kohlberg the dominating paradigm has long been a rationalist one, which now has been challenged for almost three decades. Representatives of the “affective turn” claim that not reason but emotions and intuitions play the decisive role when it comes to moral judgment. An ongoing debate in this line of research circles around the questions what exactly intuitions are, what characterizes them, where do they come from, etc.

After getting a general idea about the different approaches, we will focus for the rest of the seminar on the heuristic account which has been quite influential not only in psychology. Beside questions like how and where heuristics do work, we will discuss whether it is advisable to trust our heuristic based intuitions especially in relation to moral considerations and under which circumstances we can control for them. Finally, we´d like to discuss critically within the heuristic approach, if questions regarding moral judgments commonly attended with philosophical expertise can not only be answered just as well by the empirical sciences but also even better.

In case you want to search into the science of heuristics, we recommend the following review by Gigerenzer and Gaissmaier: Gigerenzer, Gaissmaier (2011): Heuristic Decision Making. In: Annu. Rev. Psychol 62, pp 451-482 (pdf available on the inernet)