BC4 Minds, Matter, and Machines


Session 1: The Mind/Body Problem
The aim of the first session will be to introduce the mind/body problem and three classic (but ultimately problematic) solutions: dualism, behaviorism, and identity theory.

Session 2: (Machine) Functionalism
The second session will introduce a fourth solution to the mind/body problem: functionalism. Functionalism is interesting not only because it might be used to explain human minds, but also because it allows for the possibility of artificial minds. This session will therefore build on a functionalist foundation to assess the philosophical relevance of e.g. Turing machines, symbol systems, and artificial neural networks.

Session 3: Artificial intelligence
The third session will further consider the possibility and nature of artificial intelligence. To this end, it will consider the philosophical relevance of recent technological developments in e.g. machine learning, but also address classic philosophical objections such as the Chinese Room and symbol grounding.

Session 4: Intentionality and Consciousness
The fourth and final session will assess two of the most vexing dimensions of the mind/body problem—intentionality and consciousness—and explore the extent to which these dimensions can and should be considered problematic in contemporary psychology, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence.


To convey a basic understanding of the philosophical foundations of contemporary psychology, neuroscience and artificial intelligence, by introducing influential views and arguments and relating them to empirical findings.


None required.

Course location


Course requirements


Instructor information.

Carlos Zednik

University of Magdeburg


Carlos Zednik is an assistant professor at the University of Magdeburg. His work concerns the philosophy of science (especially questions about scientific explanation in cognitive science and neuroscience), philosophy of mind (especially questions about the embodied and situated nature of cognition), and artificial intelligence (especially machine learning). He has earned degrees in computer science, cognitive science, and philosophy from Cornell University, the University of Warwick, and Indiana University, and has previously worked at the University of Osnabrück.