Philosophical Approaches


Course Objective

Students will acquire knowledge of and insight in central debates in
philosophy of science relevant to neuroscience.

Course Content

The course focuses on two central topics in neurophilosophy: 1)
mechanistic explanation and 2) causal explanation.
1) There is a growing consensus in philosophy that neuroscientists
provide mechanistic explanations. Basically, the idea is that
neuroscientists explain by appealing to entities and events at a lower
level of organization—parts and operations in the brain- whose
orchestrated functioning results in the phenomenon of interest. But what
exactly is a mechanism? What do we mean when we talk about 'levels'? Are
mechanistic explanations reductionistic?
2) Neuroscientists often conclude that what we do or think is 'caused'
by the brain. But how do we establish causal relations between brain
processes on the one hand, and behavior and cognition on the other? Do
cognitive processes also have a causal impact on our brain and behavior?
Is that even possible?

Teaching Methods

Lectures, in-class discussions, student presentations.

Method of Assessment

Written exam (60%), writing assignment (20%), oral presentation (20%).
Guidelines and assessment criteria for papers will be distributed in


Readings will be announced and/or made available via Canvas.

Target Audience

Students enrolled in the Master Philosophy 2yr, track Philosophy of
Neuroscience. Open to other MA students as well (send me an email before
the start of the course).

Additional Information

This course is part of the Master Philosophy 2yr, track Philosophy of

General Information

Course Code W_MA_NSPA
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator dr. ing. L.C. de Bruin
Examiner dr. ing. L.C. de Bruin
Teaching Staff dr. ing. L.C. de Bruin

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Seminar, Lecture
Target audiences

This course is also available as: