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Admission requirements

  • Bachelor’s degree obtained.

  • Advanced knowledge of philosophy and/or related disciplines such as psychology, media studies or cultural studies.


There is a growing debate on how the use of digital media (in particular the Internet) is affecting the way in which we learn, think, communicate and collaborate. Some express grave concern about the negative effects of computer use, including Hubert Dreyfus ( On the Internet, 2001) and Nicholas Carr ( The Shallows, 2008). Others are downright jubilant about the opportunities offered by the Internet; examples include Wikinomics (Tapscott & Williams, 2006), Grown Up Digital (Tapscott, 2009), Everything Bad is Good for You (Johnson, 2005).

This course explores the way in which changing media landscapes affect our epistemic practices, that is, the way in which we organize, evaluate, and communicate our beliefs and desires. As cognitive agents accommodate to different systems for creating, manipulating and storing information (e.g., writing, printing press, computers, and the internet), their cognitive profiles tend to change. Gradually educational systems will respond by promoting new ways to self-organize as cognitive agents, installing new epistemic virtues that define a new shared practice of information traffic.

By way of introduction we first look at how early modern thinkers (Bacon, Descartes, Locke) responded to the changing media landscape of their days by promoting a new “regimen of the mind”. We then take a survey of epistemic virtues that seem to be changing today under the influence of instant worldwide access to the Internet (including wikis, Google, and social media). Finally we try to assess the impact of these developments on the organization of knowledge in society, including educational systems. For example, we will discuss how the concept of excellence in teaching and learning is changing under the influence of shifting epistemic virtues. The conceptual framework used in this course is the integrative approach to Extended Minds as developed by Richard Menary, in combination with recent developments in virtue epistemology. The teaching format is that of a seminar with weekly student presentations followed by structured group discussions.

Course objectives

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


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

Mode of instruction


Course Load

Attending classes: 40 hrs
Required reading: 140 hrs
Presentations: 20 hrs
Midterm paper: 40 hrs
Term paper: 40 hrs
Total course load: 280 hrs

Assessment method

  • Oral presentations (20%)

  • Class discussions (10%)

  • Midterm paper (30%)

  • Term paper (40%)


Blackboard is used for sharing reading materials, assignments, discussion and feedback.

Reading list

Required readings will be made available on Blackboard.


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

Dr. J.J.M. Sleutels