Philosophy and the Sciences

Examining Philosophy's relationship with the Physical and Cognitive Sciences

Philosophy and the Sciences

About the course

What is the origin of our universe? What are dark matter and dark energy? What is our role in the universe as human agents capable of knowledge? What makes us intelligent cognitive agents seemingly endowed with consciousness?

Scientific research across both the physical sciences and the cognitive sciences has raised pressing questions for philosophers. The goal of this course is to introduce you to some of the main areas and topics at the key juncture between philosophy and the sciences. The course is structured around two broad areas, Philosophy and the Physical Sciences and Philosophy and the Cognitive Sciences.

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Philosophy and the Physical Sciences

Philosophy and the Cognitive Sciences


Introducing Philosophy and the Sciences (Michela Massimi and Duncan Pritchard)

Cosmology (Michela Massimi and John Peacock)

Dark Matter and Dark Energy (Michela Massimi and John Peacock)

The Anthropic Principle (Alasdair Richmond and John Peacock)

Stone-Age Minds (Kenny Smith and Suilin Lavelle)

Embodied Cognition and the Sciences of the Mind (Andy Clark and Barbara Webb)



Philosophy and the Sciences for Everyone book cover

To accompany ‘Philosophy and the Sciences’, we are pleased to announce a tie-in book from Routledge entitled Philosophy and the Sciences for Everyone. This course companion to the ‘Philosophy and the Sciences’ course was written by the Edinburgh Philosophy and the Sciences team expressly with the needs of MOOC learners in mind. ‘Philosophy and the Sciences for Everyone’ contains clear and user-friendly chapters, chapter summaries, glossary, study questions, suggestions for further reading and guides to online resources.

Philosophy and the Sciences for Everyone

Learning objectives

Upon successful completion of this course, learners will:

  • Gain a fairly well-rounded view on selected areas and topics at the intersection of philosophy and the sciences
  • Understand some key questions, and conceptual problems arising in the natural sciences and cognitive sciences.
  • Develop critical skills to evaluate and assess these problems.


Professor Michela Massimi

Dr Alasdair Richmond

Dr Suilin Lavelle

Dr David Carmel

Dr Mark Sprevak

Professor Duncan Pritchard

Professor Andy Clark

Professor John Peacock

Professor Barbara Webb

Dr Kenny Smith

Dr Peggy Series