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Announcements

Upcoming Deadlines
Quizzes

Week 8 of Philosophy and the


Sciences is now live
Hi everyone,
Welcome to the final week of lectures for Philosophy and
the Sciences.

Week 1 Practice Quiz: What is this


thing called science?
Fri 2 Jan 2015 4:00 AM PET

Week 2 Quiz: The origins of the


universe
Fri 2 Jan 2015 4:00 AM PET

Week 3 Quiz: Dark matter and dark

Your lecturers this week are Professor Andy Clark and


Professor Barbara Webb, and they'll be teaching us
about embodied cognition.

energy
Fri 2 Jan 2015 4:00 AM PET

Week 4 Quiz: The anthropic

In a joint lecture, Andy and Barbara explore the complex


interplay between brain, body and world, and ask
whether we could have minds like these without bodies
like these. The fact that our bodies and brains evolved in
concert with each other, they argue, has great
significance for our understanding of the mind. Andy and
Barbara show us how building robots can deliver new
insights into how the mind works in ways that
phenomenological introspection can't. We find out what
'Babybot', nesting ants and bluefin tuna that shouldn't be
able to swim as well as they do, can show us about the
brain; how the structures we build in the world are

principle and multiverse cosmology


Fri 2 Jan 2015 4:00 AM PET

Week 5 Quiz: Do our modern skulls


house stone-age minds?
Fri 2 Jan 2015 4:00 AM PET

Week 6 Quiz: What is


consciousness?
Fri 2 Jan 2015 4:00 AM PET

Week 7 Quiz: From intelligent


machines to the human brain

essential to our cognition; and question to what extent


the body can solve problems so the mind doesn't have
to.

Fri 2 Jan 2015 4:00 AM PET

The second peer assessment also opened this

Fri 2 Jan 2015 4:00 AM PET

Week 8 Quiz: Embodied cognition


and the sciences of the mind

morning, and comes highly recommended if you want to


delve into the relationship between cognitive science and
our philosophical understanding of the mind. Check it out
here.

Recent Discussions

An excellent conversation continues on the forums.

Can embodied cognition


explain evolution

Don't forget to add your voice!


Best wishes,
The Philosophy and the Sciences Team
@philscimooc

Last post by Derek Grainge (18 minutes


ago)

Is not scientifically
irresponsible to discard the
Prime Patterner and Prime
Mover from our Universe?
Last post by Derek Grainge (30 minutes
ago)

Is Cognitive Science Really


Science ?

#philsci
Mon 8 Dec 2014 6:20 AM PET

Second Peer Assessment,


and a welcome to newcomers
Hi everyone,
Thousands of new people have enrolled since
Philosophy and the Sciences began, so we thought we'd
take this opportunity to provide newcomers with some
important info, and to let you all know about the second
peer assessment, which opens on Monday.

The Second Peer Assessment


Our peer assessment question for Section II of the
course is:
'In what way can cognitive science inform issues in
the philosophy of mind? Give a clearly argued
answer, using at least one example from the lectures.'
In response to your feedback, we're adding in a new
feature to the second peer assessment. This time, there
will be a separate space for references. You don't need
to use a bibliography, but, if you choose to, it now won't
eat into your word count.
If you missed the first essay, now is the chance to put
your thoughts into words in a substantive way. Peer
assessments contribute towards your final grade,
but, more importantly, reading, writing and grading
essays is an excellent way to hone your
philosophical thinking.
We've provided criteria for grading essays, which you
can see when you access an assessment via the Peer
Assessments page. It's a good idea to bear these in mind
when writing your own essay. Remember, many of the
people taking this course are engaging with either
philosophy, science, or philosophy of science for the first
time -- so don't grade too harshly! The goal is to be
constructive, informative and helpful.

Last post by Warren Lacefield (4 hours


ago)

Is there something
"between" universes?
Last post by Derek Grainge (4 hours ago)

100% penalty for not giving


peer evaluation is unfair!
Last post by Derek Grainge (4 hours ago)

Browse all discussions

Newcomers
Here's a recap of the basics for this course:
You can dive right into the Course Page here and
familiarise yourself with the layout of the course and
access all the content through the tabs on the left
hand side.
You should also check out the Course Logistics
page, where you can find out more about the
quizzes, peer assessments (including important
deadlines), forums, how to download your
statement of accomplishment or verified
certificate, and our unique three-track system.
Here is a link to a video briefly explaining what
MOOCs are and how our MOOC is structured.
In the discussion forums you can find threads on
this week's lectures, as well as an introductions
thread where you can introduce yourself to your
fellow MOOC students and a study groups thread
where you can organize online and face-to-face
groups and meet-ups to talk through the material
from the course.
All of the videos, handouts and online resources are
found in the weekly tabs on the left hand side of the
page, under 'Course Content'. The weekly tabs
contain all the learning materials you'll need for this
course, including access to the discussion forums for
that week. Your MOOC tutors, Jamie and Joe, will
provide discussion topics to get you started, but feel
free to start discussions of your own.
An optional book Philosophy and the Sciences for
Everyone, for those who want to delve more deeply
into the topics discussed here, is available from all
the usual online bookstores.
We're interested in knowing why you've signed up for
this course and we've created a survey where you
can tell us. Participation in this survey is completely
optional, and we won't share the data you provide
with any third parties.
There's just over a day left to join the Philosophy and
the Sciences signature track where you can earn an
officially verified certificate from the University
of Edinburgh recognizing your completion of the
course. So if you're interested in this possibility,
please sign up for it today.
Don't forget that you can continue the conversation
on Twitter. You can find us @philscimooc. Use the

hashtag #philsci.
See you in class!
The Philosophy and the Sciences Team
@philscimooc
#philsci
Fri 5 Dec 2014 7:25 AM PET

Week 7 of Philosophy and the


Sciences is now live
Hi everyone,
Welcome to week 7 of Philosophy and the Sciences,
which is now live. An especially warm welcome to all of
you who have recently enrolled. There are now well over
60,000 people in our learning community, and your
contributions are what have been making this MOOC so
stimulating.
This week we journey from intelligent machines to
the human brain. Our guides are Dr. Mark Sprevak
and Dr. Peggy Series.
Mark introduces an approach to cognitive science that
treats the human brain a kind of computer one
composed of an intricate network of over 100 billion
neurones, rather than silicone chips. We learn what Alan
Turing's pioneering work in the foundations of logic can
tell us about the mind, and Mark shows us how to build a
computer that can reproduce the behaviour of any other.
Peggy explores the idea that the brain is a probabilistic
machine. Your ears will deceive you as she
demonstrates how the brain unconsciously combines
visual and auditory information to make you experience
the world in a particular way. Peggy finishes by
explaining how the mathematics of probability may even
provide new insights into treating schizophrenia.
The forums are still buzzing with your questions,
clarifications and insights. Keep up the good work!
Best wishes,
The Philosophy and the Sciences Team

@philscimooc
#philsci
Mon 1 Dec 2014 5:49 AM PET

Week 6 of Philosophy and the


Sciences is now live
Hi everyone,
Welcome to week 6 of Philosophy and the Sciences,
which is now live.
This week we continue our exploration of the relationship
between philosophy and cognitive science, posing the
question what is consciousness? Casting light on this
murky issue are Dr. Mark Sprevak and Dr. David
Carmel.
Mark explains why, despite being the thing we are most
directly in touch with, the existence of conscious
experience remains one of the deepest mysteries there
is. Both introspective awareness of conscious experience
and brain science provide us with knowledge of our
mental life; the difficulty is in meshing together these two
distinct perspectives. No amount of knowledge of the
human brain and how it functions seems capable of
explaining how consciousness arises. David moves from
the so-called 'hard problem' of consciousness to the
neuroscience of consciousness. Watch as David
undergoes transcranial magnetic stimulation; illustrating
how scientists reveal what different areas of the brain are
responsible for by interfering with brain activity. You'll
also have a chance to take part in a test of 'inattentional
blindness', the results of which you may find quite
startling...
Best wishes,
The Philosophy and the Sciences Team
@philscimooc
#philsci
Mon 24 Nov 2014 6:03 AM PET

Week 5 of Philosophy and the


Sciences is now live
Hi everyone,
A warm welcome to week 5 of Philosophy and the
Sciences, which is now live, and a special welcome to
those of you joining us for the first time to be a part of
the Philosophy and the Cognitive Sciences section
of the course.
In the first four weeks we explored some of the most
fundamental questions about the nature of our universe
and about the sciences that seek to explain and describe
it. Now we turn inwards to the nature of the mind. Our
first topic is Stone-age minds in modern skulls:
evolutionary theory and the philosophy of mind.
Our lecturers this week are Dr. Suilin Lavelle and Dr.
Kenny Smith. They probe an ancient debate with the
tools of contemporary cognitive science: does the human
mind begin as a blank slate onto which experiences
imprint their form, or does it come ready-formed with
particular characteristics and structure already in place?
Suilin unpacks evolutionary psychology and looks at
how natural selection might support the view that the
human mind has many features that aren't derived from
experience. If our brains evolved during the large period
of our history in which we were hunter gatherers, what
implications does that have for how adapted we are to
modern life? Has selection made us ill-adapted for logical
thinking? Kenny turns to social learning and culture.
Many behaviours central to who we are can be explained
as a product of culture and cultural evolution. Kenny
asks how human culture has shaped language, and we
see how cultural evolution may even be causing
biological evolution to speed up.
The submission deadline for the first peer assessment
has now passed. Remember, you have to evaluate
three other essays by 24th November at 9am UTC
in order to gain points for your peer assessment.
Grading other people's essays is a great way to sharpen
your own philosophical thinking, and you'll also be
making your own valuable contribution to this MOOC.
Best wishes,

The Philosophy and the Sciences Team


@philscimooc
#philsci
Mon 17 Nov 2014 6:05 AM PET

Week 4 of Philosophy and the


Sciences is now live
Hi everyone,
Welcome to week 4 of Philosophy and the Sciences,
which is now live.
In this final week of the philosophy and the physical
sciences section of our course, the topic is The
Anthropic Principle and Multiverse Cosmology. We
ask: is our universe but one in a vast ensemble of
others, and how could we ever know?
Ably steering us through this most mind-bending of
topics are Dr. Alasdair Richmond and Prof. John
Peacock. Alasdair introduces us to the often
misunderstood notion of anthropic reasoning. What is
the purpose of anthropic reasoning, and how much or
how little can it tell us about the nature of reality? How
might the anthropic principle support the hypothesis that
our universe is part of a multiverse? John explains the
science behind the multiverse hypothesis. We see how
existing, widely accepted theories may provide the raw
materials to explain how a host of universes could come
into being. John then turns to the issue of how the
hypothesis that there exist other universes which are
unobservable even in principle, could actually be
supported by observations.
Our first peer assessed essay is now open. Remember,
you have to submit your essay by 17th November,
at 9am UTC. This is a chance to reflect deeply and
rigorously about what you've been learning, and to give
a voice to your own ideas. Do some hard thinking, but
have fun with it!
Best wishes,
The Philosophy and the Sciences Team

@philscimooc
#philsci
Mon 10 Nov 2014 6:09 AM PET

First Peer Assessment


Hi everyone,
It's not long before the first Philosophy and the Sciences
peer assessment goes online on Monday, and we
thought we'd give you a bit of information about it in
advance.
Our peer assessment question for Section I of the course
is:
'In what way can philosophy or philosophical
thinking contribute to the physical sciences? Give
a clearly argued answer, using at least one example from
the lectures.'
We hope you take part in the opportunity to be involved
with the peer assessment. Peer assessments
contribute towards your final grade, but, more
importantly, reading, writing and grading essays is
an excellent way to hone your philosophical
thinking.
We've provided criteria for grading essays, available
now on the Peer Assessments page. It's a good idea to
bear these in mind when writing your own essay.
Remember, many of the people taking this course are
engaging with either philosophy, science, or philosophy
of science for the first time so don't grade too harshly!
The goal is to be constructive, informative and
helpful.
See you in class on Monday,
The Philosophy and the Sciences Team
@philscimooc
#philsci
Fri 7 Nov 2014 8:43 AM PET

Week 3 of Philosophy and the


Sciences is now live
Hi everyone,
A big welcome from the Philosophy and the Sciences
Team to week 3.
This weeks lectures are again by Dr Michela Massimi
and Professor John Peacock. The topic this week is
dark matter and dark energy, and we get to grips with
the startling fact that cosmologists today believe that the
vast majority of everything in the universe is
composed of mysterious substances that cannot
be observed and have not yet been directly
detected.
John sets out the evidence for dark matter and dark
energy. Well see how cosmologists measure the
amount of dark matter in the universe by studying
vast patterns of galaxies, and how its possible for
empty space to have an energy density.
Meanwhile, Michela considers the rationality of theory
choice. What happens when two distinct theories
make all the same predictions? Are there nonempirical factors that make it rational to choose one over
the other, or would this undermine any reason we might
have for believing one of those theories in the first
place? And what about rival theories to dark matter
and dark energy, which make some of the same
predictions without postulating such exotic entitiesare
they preferable to the scientific orthodoxy?
Theres been lots of great discussion on the forums.
Remember to vote up the posts you find most interesting,
insightful or useful, to help your fellow classmates
navigate the massive conversation of which youre a
part.
Best wishes,
The Philosophy and the Sciences Team
@philscimooc
#philsci
Mon 3 Nov 2014 6:17 AM PET

Week 2 of Philosophy and the


Sciences is now live
Hi everyone,
A very warm welcome to week 2 of Philosophy and
the Sciences, which is now live.
This weeks video lectures are by Dr Michela Massimi
and Professor John Peacock. John provides a whistlestop tour of the breathtaking achievements of cosmology
over the last hundred years, explaining how scientists
today can infer what the universe was like and how
it behaved at its originseven being able to describe
what it was doing one minute into its existence. Michela
talks us through the fascinating philosophical issues that
this throws into relief; issues to do with what laws of
nature are, what makes theories scientific (how
cosmology transformed from a speculative branch of
metaphysics into a science), and the fraught
relationship between observation and knowledge.
This week also sees the launch of our partnership with
Zooniverse: a team who run massive online citizen
science projects. Check out the Citizen Science tab on
the left hand side to gain access to a portal where you
can classify images of galaxies taken by the Apache
Point Observatory in New Mexico, the United
Kingdom Infrared Survey Telescope in Hawaii and
the Hubble Space Telescope. This is a chance to
make your own contribution to the field of cosmology!
The forums have been positively thrumming with
discussion. Dialogue is an excellent way to hone your
philosophical thinking, so keep up the good workwe
love hearing from you!
Best wishes,
The Philosophy and the Sciences Team
@philscimooc
#philsci
Mon 27 Oct 2014 6:45 AM PET

Welcome to Philosophy and


the Sciences
Philosophy and the Sciences is now beginning...
The Philosophy and the Sciences team would like to
welcome you to this brand new MOOC from the
University of Edinburgh, where you'll be joining well over
50,000 other students to ponder, debate and better
understand some of the deepest and most thoughtprovoking questions about the nature of reality and the
mind. We hope you're as excited as we are about
Philosophy and the Sciences and the amazing
possibilities that a massive open online course like this
throws open.

Getting Started
You can dive right into the Course Page here and
familiarise yourself with the layout of the course and
access all the content through the tabs on the left
hand side.
You should also check out the Course Logistics
page, where you can find out more about the
quizzes, peer assessments (including important
deadlines), forums, how to download your
statement of accomplishment or verified
certificate, and our unique three-track system.
Here is a link to a video briefly explaining what
MOOCs are and how our MOOC is structured.
In the discussion forums you can find threads on
this week's lectures, as well as an introductions
thread where you can introduce yourself to your
fellow MOOC students and a study groups thread
where you can organize online and face-to-face
groups and meet-ups to talk through the material
from the course.
All of this week's videos, handouts and online
resources are found in the Week 1 tab. The weekly
tabs contain all the learning materials you'll need for
this course, including access to the discussion
forums for that week. Your MOOC tutors, Jamie, Joe
and Guy, will provide discussion topics to get you
started, but feel free to start discussions of your own.
An optional book Philosophy and the Sciences for
Everyone, for those who want to delve more deeply

into the topics discussed here, is available from all


the usual online bookstores.
We're interested in knowing why you've signed up for
this course and we've created a survey where you
can tell us. Participation in this survey is completely
optional, and we won't share the data you provide
with any third parties.
There are only 3 weeks left to join the Philosophy
and the Sciences signature track where you can
earn an officially verified certificate from the
University of Edinburgh recognizing your
completion of the course. So if you're interested in
this possibility, please sign up for it today.
Don't forget that you can continue the conversation
on Twitter. You can find us @philscimooc. Use the
hashtag #philsci.
We're looking forward to sharing with you some of the
key questions about how philosophy and the sciences
can benefit from a two-way interaction.
But most of all, we're looking forward to you joining in the
dialogue.
Best wishes,
The Philosophy and the Sciences Team
@philscimooc
#philsci
Mon 20 Oct 2014 6:27 AM PET

Philosophy and the Sciences


is nearly here
Dear Philosophers and Scientists,
Its only a few days to go until Philosophy and the
Sciences launches, and things are getting exciting.
50,000 people have now signed up to the course
prepare to be part of a truly massive community of
learners.
If youd like to seal the achievement involved in learning
the course material, you should think about joining the

Philosophy and the Sciences Signature Track. By doing


so you can earn an officially verified certificate from the
University of Edinburgh recognizing your completion of
the course something permanent to mark your
accomplishment.
In other news, for the Part I of our course (weeks 2 and
3) our MOOC team has partnered with the people at
Zooniverse to bring citizen science to Philosophy and the
Sciences. You will get to participate in large-scale
cosmology projects such as helping NASA to map
galaxies. Not only will you learn about key methodological
problems in the philosophy of cosmology, but youll
actively contribute towards the science involved too.
We cant wait to see you all on Monday!
Best wishes,
The Philosophy and the Sciences team
@philscimooc
#philsci
Thu 16 Oct 2014 2:40 AM PET

Philosophy and the Sciences


for Everyone now available
Dear Philosophers and Scientists,
Were happy to announce that the accompanying book
for Philosophy and the Sciences is now available to buy.
Philosophy and the Sciences for Everyone is written by
the same team of experts youll be interacting with in our
course, and with the needs of MOOC students in mind.
Philosophy and the Sciences for Everyone is of course
optional everything you need to complete our MOOC is
free and available online. But for those of you who want
to delve deeper into the issues, or who just cant wait to
get started, this is well worth checking out, and is
available from all the usual online retailers.
Best wishes,
The Philosophy and the Sciences team
@philscimooc

#philsci
Mon 6 Oct 2014 9:20 AM PET

Hello from the Philosophy and


the Sciences Team
Thank you for signing up for Philosophy and the
Sciences.
There are only a few more weeks to go before the
course opens on Monday, 20th October. Check out the
course page https://www.coursera.org/course/philsci and
if you have friends who might be interested in the origins
of the universe, dark energy and dark matter, anthropic
reasoning, the evolution of the mind, consciousness or
embodied cognition then pass on the news.
You are part of a community of over 40,000 learners,
which is still rapidly growing. You dont have to wait to
get involved though the course now has its own Twitter
account @philscimooc, so speak to us and your fellow
MOOCers directly with the hashtag #philsci. Share your
thoughts, questions, and any interesting philsci stuff
youve found online. We cant wait to hear from you!
(Our community is global, but if youre in Edinburgh and
free this afternoon, then nowand we mean nowis
your chance to meet two of our MOOC lecturers in
person. Michela Massimi and Mark Sprevak are
unravelling some of the deepest questions about the
universe and the human mind at a free, drop-in,
exploration event in the National Museum of Scotland
today at 1:00-4:30pm.)
See you in class!
The Philosophy and the Sciences team
Thu 25 Sep 2014 7:00 PM PET