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Emotion, Cognition, and Rationality


Admission requirements

BA in Philosophy or equivalent.


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

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: 40 hrs
Time for studying literature: 110 hrs
Time for writing papers: 130 hrs
Total course load: 280 hrs

Assessment method

  • In-class oral presentations (20%)

  • Draft research proposal and final paper (80%)


Blackboard is used for posting texts and Powerpoint presentations.

Reading list

To be announced.


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 details

Dr. J.W. McAllister