Scientific & Philosophical Studies of the Mind
The SPM Program - Where Science and Philosophy Intersect
Scientific and Philosophical Studies of Mind (SPM) seeks to bridge the sciences and the humanities in the study of a common topic: the nature of mind. In order to provide a breadth of perspective as well as depth in an area of special interest, the SPM curriculum divides into two majors: Cognitive Science and Moral Psychology. Successfully bridging the sciences and humanities in order to answer the questions that concern each major requires that students gain a broad background in both the content and methodology of philosophy and psychology; the courses in the “Core” of the program aim to provide this background. The needed depth is provided in the majors themselves, in which students further hone their skills of critical thinking and philosophical analysis in the context of the interpretation, assessment and even construction of empirical research. The SPM majors culminate in the Senior Research Seminar, in which students conduct research on a topic that combines both philosophical and scientific approaches to the study of a topic of their choosing. Students may also expand their senior thesis with the goal of presenting the project for departmental honors.
Cognitive science is concerned with how minds fit into the natural world. Nature is mechanistic; could the mind be a machine? Can other animals—or even computers or robots—think? What is the (neural?) basis for consciousness? How do minds and mental abilities develop as we mature?
Moral psychology is concerned with what it is for an individual to be a worthwhile and responsible moral agent, and with the psychological processes that lead people to engage in altruistic actions and to evaluate and punish others’ behaviors. Can we square our moral assessment of persons with a psychological understanding of the self? What does it take for a life to be significant or meaningful? Are humans primarily motivated toward good or evil? Is a moral sense innate or learned? To what extent do emotion and reason underlie moral judgments and actions?
Learn More About Our Program
Edward S. Reed Prize
In recognition of late Professor Reed's contribution to psychology and philosophy,
this prize has been established by students and colleagues to be awarded to a student
at Franklin & Marshall who has shown scholarly excellence in the Scientific and Philosophical
Studies of Mind program (SPM).
Recommended Paths for SPM Majors
Each major offered as part of the SPM program consists of 12 courses. Of these, five courses are required as a part of a common
core, and six courses are specific to each of the majors, designated below. Of these
six courses, three must be in the sciences (at least one at or above the 300-level),
and three must be in the humanities (at least one at or above the 300-level). The
remaining course can be from either major or from the following list: ANT 330; BIO
330; BIO 343; CPS 222; CPS 337; ECO 350; PHI 213; PHI 217; PHI 381.
Majors in both Cognitive Science and Moral Psychology must take five CORE courses: SPM 100: Minds, Machines, and Morals; PSY 300: Experimental Design and Statistics; PHI 250: Philosophy of Mind; PHI 337: Philosophy of Natural Science or PHI273: Philosophy of Psychiatry or PSY452: History and Philosophy of Psychology; SPM 499: Senior Research Seminar.
Students intending to major in SPM are encouraged to take SPM 100 in their first year.