Philosophical Foundations: Minds, Morals, and Machines

Can machines think? Can they be conscious? Do they have rights? To answer these questions, we need to understand the nature of thought and consciousness is, and the basis of rights. In virtue of what do we count as thinking or conscious? In virtue of what do we have rights? Increasingly, algorithms are replacing human beings as decision makers. When are algorithmic decisions fair? Are we entitled to an explanation of algorithmic decisions? Is it paternalistic or anti-democratic to design algorithms that don’t give you what you want, if that will mislead you or make you unhappy?

From the lists shown below, students will select one course from the lower-division, and two courses from the upper-division. The lower division course is a required element of the Domain Emphasis.


Prerequisites are shown within square brackets. 

Lower Division (select one)

  • COGSCI 1. Introduction to Cognitive Science (4 units)

  • COGSCI 1B or N1. Introduction to Cognitive Science (3 units)

  • PHILOS 2. Individual Morality and Social Justice (4 units)

  • PHILOS 3. Nature of Mind (4 units)

  • PHILOS 14. Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence (4 units)

Upper Division (select two)

  • COGSCI C100 / PSYCH C120. Basic Issues in Cognition (3 units)

  • COGSCI C101 / LINGUIS C101. Cognitive Linguistics (4 units)

  • COGSCI C102 / PSYCH C129. Scientific Approaches to Consciousness (3 units) [Prerequisite: PSYCH 1, W1, 2 or COGSCI 1]

  • COGSCI (C)131 / PSYCH C123. Computational Models of Cognition (4 units) [Prerequisites: calculus, discrete math, COGSCI 1, COMPSCI 61A]

  • COGSCI C142 / LINGUIS C142. Language and Thought (3 units)

  • ECON C110 / POLSCI C135. Game Theory in the Social Sciences (4 units)

  • STAT 155. Game Theory (3 units) [Prerequisite: Stat 101 or 134]

  • PHILOS 104. Ethical Theories (4 units)

  • PHILOS 115. Political Philosophy (4 units)

  • PHILOS 132. Philosophy of Mind (4 units)

  • PHILOS 133. Philosophy of Language (4 units) [Prerequisites: Philos 12A and one other Philosophy course, or consent of instructor]

  • PHILOS 135. Philosophy of Meaning (4 units) [Prerequisites: one course in logic, or consent of instructor]

  • PHILOS 136. Philosopy of Perception (4 units) [Prerequisite: one course in philosophy recommended]

  • PHILOS 141. Philosophy and Game Theory (4 units) [Prerequisite: one course in philosophy]