nl en

The Adaptive Unconscious, Free Will and Morality


Admission requirements

This course is open to MA students from other departments with a strong philosophical interest disclosed by previously concluded courses and/or written papers.


Behavioural, cognitive and neuroscientists discuss the nature and existence of free will, in some cases to declare it non-existent. Philosophers have also discussed free will for centuries and are still divided over the right interpretation of the concept. Hence the question arises what it is these scientist investigate and discuss? Do they side with a specific philosophical interpretation or do they fail to grasp that there are different concepts to choose from?

This course (1) examines the scientific findings thought to be relevant to free will (with a focus on those that can be subsumed under the heading of the adaptive unconscious/dual process theory; (2) examines some of the crucial essays from the contemporary philosophical discussion; and (3) discusses the free will and related issues at the intersection of philosophy and scientific research.

Course objectives

Course objectives will be posted on Blackboard by the start of the course.


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2013-2014 , MA Philosophy 60 EC en 120 EC.
See Timetables Philosophy 2013-2014 , Timetables MA Philosophy 60 EC/120 EC

Mode of instruction

Lectures and seminars.

Course load

Attending lectures and seminars: 3 × 14 = 42 hrs
Studying the compulsory literature: 6 × 14 = 84 hrs
Preparing class / assignments: 6 × 14 = 84 hrs
Writing assignment: essay to be presented in a 10 minute talk (max 4000 words): 40 hrs
Preparation presentation/feedback presentations of other students: 30 hrs
Total course load: 280 hrs

Assessment method

  • Presentation on the basis of a paper (70% of final mark)

  • Assignments during the course (30% of final mark)


Intensive use of Blackboard for posting instructions, texts, links, discussions, assignments and so on. Access to Blackboard is a prerequisite to attending and concluding the course.

Reading list

  • Gregg D. Caruso ed., Exploring the Illusion of Free Will and Moral Responsibility (Lexington Books, 2013).

eBook (Kindle-edition) available for 32 dollar, hardcover for 79 dollar or 67 dollar via BlackBoard of the course; library book will also be available.


Please register for this course on uSis.
See Inschrijven voor cursussen en tentamens
See Registration for courses and examinations

Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply. See also Registration for courses and examinations

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.

Contact information

Prof.dr. M.M.S.K. Sie