Curriculum Overview 

Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind (SPM) seeks to bridge the sciences and the humanities in the study of a common topic: the nature of mind. In order to provide a breadth of perspective as well as depth in an area of special interest, the SPM curriculum divides into two Areas of Concentration: Cognitive Science and Moral Psychology.

Cognitive science is concerned with how minds fit into the natural world. Nature is mechanistic; could the mind be a machine? Can other animals—or even computers or robots—think? What is the (neural?) basis for consciousness? How do minds and mental abilities develop as we mature?

Moral psychology is concerned with what it is for an individual to be a moral agent—worthwhile and responsible in a way that rocks, trees and the “lower” animals appear not to be. Can we square our moral assessment of persons with a psychological understanding of the self? What does it take for a life to be significant or meaningful?

Successfully bridging the sciences and humanities so as to answer these questions requires that students gain a broad background in both the content and methodology of philosophy and psychology; the courses in the “Core” of the major aim to provide this background. The needed depth is provided in the concentrations themselves, in which majors further hone their skills of critical thinking and philosophical analysis in the context of the interpretation, assessment and even construction of empirical research. The SPM major culminates in the Senior Research Seminar, in which students conduct research on a topic that combines both philosophical and scientific approaches to the study of a topic of their choosing. Majors may also expand their senior thesis with the goal of presenting the project for departmental honors.

A major in SPM consists of 12 courses. Of these, five courses are required as a part of the common core, and six courses must be within a particular area of concentration. (For details, see below.) The remaining course can be from either concentration or from the following list: PHI 213; PHI 317

Students intending to major in SPM are encouraged to take one or more of the following courses in their first year: PSY 100, PSY 230 or one of the Foundations curriculum courses from the above list. Students who decide to enter the SPM major after reaching the 300-level in psychology, but without having taken Introductory Psychology, should substitute any second 300-level psychology course for PSY 100.

Core

The following courses are required for the core:

PSY 100: Introduction to Psychology.
PSY 230: Experimental Design and Statistics.
SPM 250: Philosophy of Mind.
SPM 337: Philosophy of Natural Science.
SPM 499: Senior Research Seminar.

 

Areas of Concentration

Majors may select either the Cognitive Science or the Moral Psychology Concentration. The six courses within the concentration must be evenly split between those designated as science courses and those designated as humanities courses. In addition, at least one course in the sciences and at least one course in the humanities must be at the 300-level or higher. The following summarizes what courses fulfil what requirements in the concentrations.

Cognitive Science

Sciences: CPS 112: Computer Science II; BIO 220: Principles of Physiology and Development; SPM 240: Neuroscience; BFB 250: Animal Behavior; SPM 301: Sensation and Perception; SPM 302: Biopsychology; SPM 304: Developmental Psychology; SPM 305: Cognitive Psychology; SPM 306: Evolution of Mind and Intelligence; PSY 310: Conditioning and Learning; SPM 312: Embodied Cognition; PSY 313: Cognitive Neuroscience; SPM 48x: Collaborative Research.

Humanities: LIN 101: General Linguistics; LIN 120: Sociolinguistics; PHI 244: Symbolic Logic; PHI 335: Epistemology; PHI 339: Philosophy of Language; PHI 342: Rational Choice; PHI 351: Mind-Body Problem; SPM 352: Philosophy of Emotions

Moral Psychology

Sciences: SOC 220: Social Psychology; SOC 301: History of Sociology; SPM 304: Developmental Psychology; SPM 307: Personality Psychology; SPM 308: Psychopathology; SPM 309: Social Psychology; SOC 320: Criminology; PSY 37x: Origins of Moral Thought; SOC 380: Sociology of Law; SPM 489: History and Philosophy of Psychology; SPM 48x: Collaborative Research.

Humanities: PHI 220: Moral Theory; GOV 241: Classical Political Theory; GOV 242: Modern Political Theory; PHI 319: 20th-Century Continental Philosophy; PHI 331: Free Will; SPM 360: Concept of a Person; SPM 361: Moral Psychology; SPM 362: Love and Friendship; SPM 365: Friendship and Character; SPM 375: Respect, Responsibility, and Ethics; RST 384: Soul in Search of Selfhood.

Majors in the Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind Program have studied abroad in the following programs in recent years: Budapest Semester in Cognitive Science; University of Melbourne; University of Otago; Victoria University; Tohoku Gakuin (Japan); Tibetan Studies. We also have arranged an exchange program with the Institute of Cognitive Science at the University of Osnabrück, Germany. See the International Programs section of the Catalog for further information.

Core Courses

A list of regularly offered courses follows. Please note the key for the following abbreviations: (A) Arts; (H) Humanities; (S) Social Sciences; (N) Natural Sciences with Laboratory; (LS) Language Studies requirement; (NSP) Natural Science in Perspective; (NW) Non-Western Cultures requirement.

Note that courses below marked with an asterisk (*) have prerequisites that do not count toward the SPM major.

 

250. Philosophy of Mind. (H)

A general introduction to the philosophy of mind, addressing four key philosophical issues: the nature of psychological explanation; the mind-body problem; the possibility of artificial intelligence; and the nature of persons. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or psychology. Same as PHI 250.                                                                                                                                                                                                Helm

337. Philosophy of Natural Science. (H) (NSP)

The goals, methods, assumptions and limitations of natural science. Special attention will be paid to the philosophy of psychology, cognitive science and evolutionary biology. Same as PHI/STS 337.                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ross

499. Senior Research Seminar.

Intensive research and writing on a topic of the student’s choice. Permission of the instructor is required. Offered every Fall.                                                                                                                          Anderson

Courses not cross-listed with SPM. See department listing for descriptions.

Psychology 100. Introductory Psychology. (N)

Psychology 230. Experimental Design and Statistics.

Areas of Concentration: Cognitive Science

1. Sciences

240. Neuroscience. (N)

Principles of nervous system function from the molecular through the organ system level as illustrated by the vertebrates and invertebrates. Approximately one half of the course will cover basic cellular principles of nervous system organization, development and physiology. The remaining lectures will consider the role of functionally identified neural networks in behavior control. Prerequisite: BIO 220 or BFB/PSY 302. Offered every Spring. Same as BFB/BIO/PSY 240.         Jinks

301. Sensation and Perception.

Review of phenomena and research on sensory processes and their role in perception. Readings and discussion will examine evidence from behavioral, psychophysical and physiological research and consider implications for explanations arising from the mechanistic, cognitive, computational and naturalistic theoretical perspectives. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Spring. Same as BFB/PSY 301.                                                                             Owens

302. Biopsychology. (N)

Behavioral and mental processes as viewed from a biological perspective with particular emphasis upon the role of neurochemical and endocrine factors in central nervous system function. Topics covered will include reproduction and gender, chemical senses and ingestion, emotion, learning, sleep and psychopathology. A neuropharmacological approach to the study of the nervous system will be emphasized. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or BIO 110 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Fall. Same as BFB/PSY 302.                                                                                                        Roth

304. Developmental Psychology.

An examination of the relative contributions of nature and nurture on children’s behavioral, cognitive and perceptual development from the prenatal period through adolescence. Topics include the development of language, concepts, intelligence, socialization, motor abilities and emotional understanding, with discussion informed by current and classic primary reading. Research activities and analyses integrated into coursework. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Fall. Same as PSY 304.                                                                                        Casler

305. Cognitive Psychology.

This course provides an overview of human cognitive processes. Topics covered include knowledge acquisition, memory, concept formation, text processing, thinking, problem solving and decision making. We will compare several approaches to the study of cognition, and we will examine and evaluate both classic and contemporary theory and research. Research activities and analyses integrated into coursework. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Fall. Same as PSY 305.                                                                                                            Howard

306. Evolution of Mind and Intelligence.

What is intelligent behavior, what is it for and how did it evolve? We will attempt to answer these questions and understand the nature and development of Mind from a comparative perspective. We will do so by investigating learning, perception, memory, thinking and language in animals and humans. Research activities and analyses integrated into coursework. Prerequisites: One of: PSY 100, PSY 301, PSY 302, PSY 303, PSY 304, PSY 305, BIO 240, BIO 250 or PHI 338, or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Same as BFB/PSY 306.                                                                           Staff

312. Embodied Cognition. (NSP)

In this course we will study intelligence by focusing on perception and action in the environment. To this end, we will focus on ecological psychology, robotics, artificial neural networks and simulated evolution. Although students will be expected to build simple robots and work with computer models, no background knowledge of engineering or computing will be assumed. (Knowledge of programming is not required.) Prerequisite: PSY 100. Same as PSY 312.                                      Anderson

480. Collaborative Research in Comparative Cognition and Behavior. (N)

Comparative perspectives and approaches to the study of selected topics drawn from cognitive and developmental psychology, cognitive ethology, cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, cognitive science and behavioral primatology. Research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210, one of PSY 250, 301, 302, 303, 304, 305, 306; or one of BIO 250, 330, 379; or one of BFB 250, 301, 302, 306, 330, 379; or permission of the instructor. Offered every Spring. Same as BFB/PSY 480.                  Staff

481. Collaborative Research in Developmental Psychology. (N)

An overview of methods for conducting research with children, with an emphasis on ethics of working with child participants. Current empirical and theoretical issues in developmental psychology are addressed through literature review and group research projects. Topics reflecting student interests are considered. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY 304, or permission. Offered every Spring. Same as PSY 481.                                                          Hartin

483. Collaborative Research in Human Cognition. (N)

An in-depth consideration of selected empirical and theoretical issues in cognitive psychology. Emphasis is on recent literature covering basic research in cognitive psychology, cognitive neuroscience and computational neuroscience modeling, including such topics as attention and resource allocation, representation, concept formation, memory and topics reflecting research interests of participating students. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY/SPM 305, or permission. Offered every Spring. Same as PSY 483.                                            Howard

485. Collaborative Research in Human Perception and Action. (N)

Contemporary research and theories of the interrelations of perceptual and motor processes. Content will be drawn from the literatures of experimental psychology, neurophysiology and human factors. Animal models and computational algorithms will be considered when applicable, with primary emphasis on implications for human performance. Laboratory research required. Prerequisites: PSY 230 or BIO 210; PSY 301, or permission. Offered every Fall. Same as PSY 485.                                                                                                                                                                                                 Owens

Courses not cross-listed with SPM. See department listing for descriptions.

BIO 220. Principles of Physiology and Development.*(N)

CPS 112. Computer Science II.*

BIO/BFB 220: Principles of Physiology and Development. (N)

PSY/BFB/BIO 250. Animal Behavior. (N)

PSY/BFB 310. Conditioning and Learning.

PSY/BFB 313. Cognitive Neuroscience.

PSY 487. Collaborative Research in Biological Psychology. (N)

 

2. Humanities

352. Philosophy of Emotions. (H) (ME)

Detailed philosophical investigation of the emotions, focusing on the implications the study of emotions has for the mind-body problem, the nature of consciousness and intentionality, and the nature of rationality. How are emotions related to other mental states like beliefs, desires, and bodily sensations? What distinctive contribution, if any, do the emotions make to our mental lives? Prerequisite: one prior Philosophy course. Same as PHI 352.                                                                    Helm

Courses not cross-listed with SPM. See department listing for description.

LIN 101. Introduction to Linguistics.

LIN 120. Sociolinguistics.

PHI 244. Symbolic Logic. (H)

PHI 335. Epistemology. (H)

PHI 339. Philosophy of Language. (H)

PHI 342: Rational Choice. (H)

PHI 351. Mind-Body Problem. (H)

Areas of Concentration: Moral Psychology

 

1. Sciences

304. Developmental Psychology.

An examination of the relative contributions of nature and nurture on children’s behavioral, cognitive and perceptual development from the prenatal period through adolescence. Topics include the development of language, concepts, intelligence, socialization, motor abilities and emotional understanding, with discussion informed by current and classic primary reading. Research activities and analyses integrated into coursework. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Fall. Same as PSY 304.                                                       Casler, Hartin, Howard

307. Personality Psychology.

This course provides an evaluative and comparative overview of major models of personality selected to illustrate psychodynamic, trait, cognitive, humanistic, physiological and learning approaches. The course will emphasize the testability of the models and their connection with current research. Research activities and analyses integrated into coursework. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or permission. Corequisite: PSY 230 or BIO 210. Offered every Spring. Same as PSY 307.                                                                                                                                                                                                Meagher, Troy

308. Psychopathology.

This course will serve as an introduction to descriptive and theoretical approaches to the study of psychopathology. In addition to the study of disease-related processes, special emphasis will be placed upon developing an understanding of those biological, psychological and social conditions that are essential for healthy psychosocial functioning across the life span. Prerequisite: PSY 100 or permission. Offered every Spring. Same as PSY 308.                                                                                     Penn

PSY 47x. Collaborative Research in Morality. (N)

PSY 482. Collaborative Research in Social Psychology. (N)

PSY 484. Collaborative Research in Personality. (N)

PSY 488. Collaborative Research in Psychopathology. (N)

SOC 220. Social Psychology.*

SOC 301. History of Sociological Theory.*

SOC 320. Criminology.*

SOC 480. Sociology of Law.*

 

2. Humanities

360. Concept of a Person. (H)

A careful examination of what it is to be a person, as an autonomous moral agent whose life can be meaningful and of what distinguishes persons from the “lower” animals. Prerequisite: one prior course in philosophy, or permission of the instructor. Same as PHI 360.                                               Helm

362. Love and Friendship. (H) (V)

Investigation of philosophical aspects of love and friendship, examining a variety of accounts of what they are as well as questions concerning their justification, their bearing on the autonomy and identity of the individual, and the place their value has within a broader system of the values, including moral values. Prerequisite: one prior Philosophy course. Same as PHI 362.                     Helm

361. Moral Psychology. (H)

Moral psychology is the study of human moral agency. As such, it is constrained by, and must cohere with, the facts about human psychology; but its primary focus is on human good, an evaluative notion. Central questions include: What are reasons and what role do they play in action? What is character and how is it related to virtue? What is free will, can we have it and how do we best explain weakness of the will? Prerequisite: one prior course in philosophy, or permission of the instructor. Same as PHI 361.                                                                                                                                                                                 Helm

Courses not cross-listed with SPM. See department listing for description.

GOV 241. Classical Political Theory. (H)

GOV 242. Modern Political Theory. (H)

PHI 220. Moral Theory. (H)

PHI 319. 20th-Century Continental Philosophy. (H)

PHI 331. Free Will. (H)

RST 384. Soul in Search of Selfhood: The Writings of St. Augustine. (H)

Special Topics and Independent Study

 

Special Topics.

See program chairperson for information on what major requirements particular special topics offerings satisfy.

 

490. Independent Study.

Independent study directed by the SPM staff. Permission of the chairperson required.