Philosophy 447 / Psychology 447 / Philosophy 673

Seminar in Cognitive Science, Fall, 2015: Cognition and Social Change

Professor: Paul Thagard

Office hours (HH368): MW 10-11 and by appointment.

Email: Phone: 519-888-4567, extension 33594.

Web page:

Time: T 8:30-11:20 , HH 138. To improve learning, please turn off all electronic devices such as phones, computers, and transcranial magnetic stimulators. See blog for reasons.

Student Presentation Schedule (updated Nov. 24):

Makeups, Dec. 1, 8:40: Akanksha, Timothy
Group 3 (culture): Dec. 1: Mujtaba, Zenusha, Vanessa, Hanh, Louise, Ross
Group 4 (technology): Dec. 1: Andrew, Xiangbo, Morvika, Thenoosiya, Hailey, Erica

If you need use Powerpoint, email me a file by 8:00 a.m. the day of your presentation.

Textbook: P. Thagard, Mind-Society: From Brains to Social Science, download from here. Now includes chapter 8 and chapter 9.

Assignments: Marks will be based on:

Description: Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of mind and intelligence, operating at the intersection of psychology, philosophy, computer science, linguistics, anthropology, and neuroscience.

This course will discuss the relevance of new findings in cognitive science for understanding and promoting social change. Topics will include personal relationships, prejudice, political ideology, economic crashes, religion, and war.


 Week  Dates  Topic  Mind-Society, ch.  Recommended
 1 Sept. 15 Introduction    
 2 Sept. 22 Social change 1 de la Sablonnière
 3 Sept. 29 Cognitive mechanisms 2 Langley
  4 Oct. 6 Social mechanisms 3 Hedstrom
 5 Oct. 13 Romantic relationships 4 Murray
 6 Oct. 20 Prejudice 5 Amodio
 7 Oct. 27 Ideology 6 Jost

Nov. 3

Economic booms and crashes 7 Samson
  9 Nov. 10 Religion 8 Cohen
 10 Nov. 17 War 9 Sasley
 11 Nov. 24 Student presentations    
 12 Dec. 1 Student presentations    

For undergraduates, this class is a core course for the Cognitive Science Minor.

For graduate students, this can can count toward the Graduate Diploma in Cognitive Science.

Cognitive Science Glossary

Cognitive Science Resources

Weekly notes

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: Social Change

Week 3: Cognitive mechanisms

Week 4: Social mechanisms

Week 5: Romantic relationships

Week 6: Prejudice

Week 7: Ideology

Week 8: Economic crashes

Week 9: Religion

Week 10: War

From the Faculty of Arts:

All students registered in the courses of the Faculty of Arts are expected to know what constitutes academic integrity, to avoid committing academic offences, and to take responsibility for their actions. When the commission of an offence is established, disciplinary penalties will be imposed in accord with Policy #71 (Student Academic Discipline). For information on categories of offences and types of penalties, students are directed to consult the summary of Policy #71 which is supplied in the Undergraduate Calendar (section 1; on the Web at If you need help in learning what constitutes an academic offence; how to avoid offences such as plagiarism, cheating, and double submission; how to follow appropriate rules with respect to “group work” and collaboration; or if you need clarification of aspects of the discipline policy, ask your TA and/or your course instructor for guidance. Other resources regarding the discipline policy are your academic advisor and the Undergraduate Associate Dean. Students who believe that they have been wrongfully or unjustly penalized have the right to grieve; refer to Policy #70, Student Grievance,”

Faculty of Arts information on plagiarism and other offences.

Computational Epistemology Laboratory.

Paul Thagard

This page updated Nov. 24, 2015