Online PhD course on Automaticity and Control: Philosophical and Empirical Perspectives

IFIKK is organizing a PhD course on "Automaticity and Control: Philosophical and Empirical Perspectives". The course will take place every Monday from 15 to 17 (CEST), from the 14th of September to the 19th of October. All the classes will be on Zoom. The course will be taught by Prof. Wayne Wu (Carnegie Mellon University).

The primary audience for this course are PhD students in philosophy. PhD students from neighbouring disciplines are welcome after approval by the instructor. PhD students from other universities are invited to attend this course (though be aware that space is limited; see below). It will be possible to obtain 4 ECTS credits by attending the seminars and fulfilling the prescribed activities.



Course Description

The philosophical and psychological literature highlights a tension between automaticity and agency. For example, in the psychological literature, scientists has emphasized dual-process models that draw a sharp distinction between automatic and working-memory dependent processes. These two types of processes have very distinctive features: the first is direct, bottom-up, automatic, habitual, impulsive, reflexive, and involuntary, while the other is deliberative, top-down, controlled, goal-directed, deliberate, reflective and voluntary. For many, this opposition culminates in the idea that automaticity rules out agency. This conclusion is rooted in the assumption that when there is automaticity there isn’t control and, hence, no agency. Yet there is evidence showing that intentional human behavior relies on automaticity. How can we provide a theory of automaticity and control that resolves the tension while being true to philosophical and empirical constraints? 

The aim of this course is to give participating PhD students a thorough introduction to agency, with focus on mental agency, and its relation to automaticity and control, considering both philosophical and empirical accounts. We will read chapters from the instructor’s book manuscript along with central philosophical and empirical texts on the issues to be discussed. There will be six sessions covering the following topics

1.     The Structure of Agency: Control and Automaticity

2.     Attention and Attending

3.     Intending and Remembering

4.     Reasoning

5.     Mind Wandering and the Edges of Agency

6.     Bias

The course will be limited to 8 students for credit though some auditors will be allowed with permission of the instructor(priority will be given to PhD students in philosophy and neighbouring disciplines at the University of Oslo).

Requirements are: (1) one short paper 3-5 pages focused on analyzing central argument of one of the target papers in sessions (1)-(4); (2) one long paper 10-15 pages focused on a broader topic related to course content. If there is time, a third requirement will be a brief, 10-12 minute presentation in the format of a conference presentation critically discussing one of the target papers in the session.

Meetings will be by Zoom for 2 hours. One of the readings will be chapters from the instructor’s book, Movements of the Mind. 


If you are interested in following this course or for further information, please write to: . All participants will need to register by email (before the start of the course a zoom link will be provided to registered participants).



Published Feb. 10, 2020 9:17 AM - Last modified July 17, 2020 11:25 AM