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Philosophy of Psychology: Consciousness


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to students enrolled in the MA Philosophy 120 EC, specialisation Philosophy of Psychology.


This specialisation seminar will focus on recent work in the philosophy and psychology of consciousness, taking as its starting-point Block’s distinction between access consciousness, phenomenal consciousness, and other functionally identified forms of consciousness. The seminar’s aim is to explore how Block’s distinction has fared in the past 25 years. Discussion topics will include qualia, the difference between perceptual awareness, memory and imagination, the relationship between consciousness and metacognition, the evolutionary psychology of consciousness, and the role of consciousness in social cognition.

Course objectives

This course aims to to engage students in advanced discussion of recent work in the philosophy of mind, focusing on phenomenal and access consciousness.

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the disctinction between access consciousness and phenomenal consciousnes;

  • recent work in the philosophy and psychology of consciousness.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • use philosophical sources, find and digest information, and review philosophical literature;

  • give an oral and written presentation of philosophical arguments;

  • write a clear argumentative essay about a topic covered in the seminar.


See: MA Philosophy 120 EC

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours= 280 hours

  • Attending lectures or seminars: 13 x 3 = 39 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature (800 pages): 171 hours

  • Preparation oral presentation: 20 hours

  • Preparation midterm paper proposal: 10 hours

  • Writing final paper: 40 hours

Assessment method


  • Oral presentations (30%)

  • Class discussions (10%)

  • Midterm paper proposal (10%)

  • Term paper (50%)


The final mark for the course is the weighted average of the several subtests (see above).


A resit will be offered for the subtests that were insufficient.

Exam review

Exam reviews will be offered on individual appointment.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • reading materials

  • assignments

Reading list

To be studied beforehand

  • Frith, Chris (2007), Making up the mind. How the brain creates our mental world (Oxford: Blackwell).

Required reading

  • Block, Ned (1995), ‘On a confusion about a function of consciousness’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 18, 227-287. Available online.

  • Sleutels, Jan (2006), ‘Greek zombies’, Philosophical Psychology 19(2), 177-197.

  • Other required readings t.b.a.

Recommended reading

  • Graziano, Michael (2013), Consciousness and the social brain (Oxford: Oxford UP).

  • Dehaene, Stanislas (2014), Consciousness and the brain: Deciphering how the brain codes our thoughts (New York: Viking Press).

  • Dennett, Daniel C. (1991), Consciousness explained (Boston: Little Brown).


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

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number, which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. J.J.M. Sleutels


Not applicable.