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Emotion, Cognition, and Rationality


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Knowledge

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Natural Sciences

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Psychology


Emotion is traditionally viewed as the enemy of cognition and rationality: one is supposed to suppress emotion in order to reason correctly. Is this view adequate? Recent research has shown that the contribution of emotion is crucial to taking sound decisions in practical situations. This holds especially in situations of ambiguity, incomplete information, and priority conflicts. In such circumstances, taking decisions on the basis of “gut feelings” or emotions is not a sign of irrationality, but often the only practical way to proceed. The new understanding of emotion has important implications for philosophical models of cognition, rationality, and especially science: emotion is revealed as playing an ineliminable role in scientific work. This course studies the new cognitivist view of emotion and its philosophical implications for our conception of rationality and knowledge.

Course objectives

A student who has successfully completed this course will have knowledge of and insight into:

  • recent historical developments in the philosophy of cognition and emotion and main currents of thought in this area;

  • theories of and approaches to the place of emotion in moral reasoning;

  • theories of and approaches to the relation between emotion and scientific practice;

  • lineaments of psychology of science.

A student who has successfully completed this course will be able to:

  • discuss and evaluate standpoints on the relation between emotion, cognition, and rationality;

  • provide and discuss examples of the incidence of emotion in scientific practice;

  • formulate a viewpoint on these issues and il;lustrate and support it in oral presentations and in writing.


The timetables are available through MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Oral class presentation;

  • Written research proposal and class presentation of it;

  • Final written paper.


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests:

  • Oral class presentation: 15% of the grade;

  • Written research proposal and class presentation of it: 20% of the grade;

  • Final written paper: 65% of the grade.


A student admitted to the resit will write a final paper (100% of the grade).
Students who have obtained a satisfactory overall grade for the first examination cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Prescribed literature available online. A reading list will be made available at the beginning of the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the information bar at the right hand side of the page.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc., contact the Education Administration Office Huizinga


Not applicable.