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Philosophy and Ethics in Psychology and AI

When you'll study it
Semester 2
CATS points
15
ECTS points
7.5
Level
Level 7
Module lead
Alex Gregory
Academic year
2021-22

Module overview

The science of psychology and the project of artificial intelligence raise profound philosophical issues as they attempt to understand, simulate and even go beyond human thought. Some concern the kind of explanation that these ventures seek: If we understand the brain, do we understand the mind? How do psychological theories stand to neurological and sociological theories? Must psychological theories model the underlying neurology? Or might psychological theories instead rest instead on broader generalisations that are independent of such details? That they can do so might be a requirement if we are to make sense of the idea that machines might think or feel despite having no nervous system remotely like ours. Or should we instead conclude that machines could never think or feel? Other philosophical issues these projects raise are ethical: Does the status of psychology as a science require that its theories not commit us to value judgments about how we live? Is that possible even when we theorise about topics such as mental health and illness? And what new ethical dilemmas might we face as we autonomous systems become more sophisticated? This module aims to explore questions such as these.

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