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What makes a good explanation? Psychological and philosophical perspectives (PHIL 350)


Explanation is a topic of longstanding interest in philosophy and psychology, and has recently attracted renewed attention due to novel challenges in interpreting and interacting with relatively opaque AI systems. In this graduate seminar, we will study the science and engineering of explanations, combining perspectives from philosophy, psychology, AI, and the legal sciences. We will ask questions like: When do we ask for explanations? What makes a good explanation? How can we build machines that can understand and explain? This interdisciplinary seminar is co-taught by Thomas Icard (Philosophy) and Tobias Gerstenberg (Psychology). We will meet twice a week (Tuesdays and Thursdays 10:30am-11:50am) to discuss research articles from a range of disciplines. Students are expected to write responses based on their readings, lead the discussion on one of the papers, and actively participate in the discussion otherwise. As a final project, students will outline a novel study on explanation that makes an empirical, modeling, or theoretical contribution. Participation is restricted to a maximum of 12 graduate students (by application). The course website, with information about application, can be found here:

Course ID: 
222 789
Letter (ABCD/NP)