Lemanic Neuroscience
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Module on neuroscience and philosophy

Organizer: Peter Clarke, DNF, Lausanne


0.5 - 1 ECTS, To be confirmed



  • Peter Clarke, retired Associate Professor, now external Scientific Collaborator at the DNF (Département de Neurosciences Fondamentales, UNIL.
  • Olaf Blanke, Professor at the Brain and Mind Institute, EPFL
  • Michael Esfeld, Professor of Philosophy of Science at the UNIL
  • Christian Sachse, MER in Philosophy of Science at the UNIL


Two half-day sessions in May 2013, from 14:15-18:00.
Dates to be confirmed soon.

Session 1: Neuroscience, physicalism and reductionism

  • 1a Introduction: from La Mettrie to modern physicalism (PC, 15 min)
  • 1b Neuroscience and reductionism (PC 30 min, then 45 min by Michael Esfeld and Christian Sachse).

Session 2: The self

  • 2a Introduction on neuroscience and the self/soul: Cartesianism, monism, brain-mind identity and the "hard problem of consciousness"(PC 45 min)
  • 2b Experimental approaches to self-consciousness (Olaf Blanke 45 min)

Session 3: Determinism-1

  • 3a The question of brain determinism: heredity, environment and noise (PC 45 min)
  • 3b The Libet experiments (PC 45 min)

Session 4: Determinism-2

  • 4a Determinism and free will: compatibilism and incompatibilism (Christian Sachse)
  • 4b Attempts to found libertarian free will on quantum indeterminism (PC and Michael Esfeld)


The evaluation method will depend on the number of participants:

  • Less than ten people: active participation in each session will guarantee the validation of credits.
  • More than ten people: the organizer will propose an additional evaluation.

Attendance to both sessions is a requisite to validate the credits.


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