Philosophers and neuroscientists study many of the same big questions about free will, morality, human nature, perception, knowledge, and consciousness. Sadly, researchers in these disciplines rarely work together or even understand each other. To advance these fields by fostering mutual appreciation and collaboration, we propose 3 annual summer seminars of 15 days each where 10 fellows from neuroscience will study contemporary philosophy, and 10 fellows from philosophy will learn about recent developments in neuroscience, including both theories and methods in both disciplines. After studying the field outside their expertise, fellows will form interdisciplinary teams that will design their own experiments on big questions. The most promising of these experiments will be funded, carried out with guidance from project staff, and reported to the next year’s seminar. Each seminar will close with a two-day public conference involving leading figures from both disciplines. Outputs during the grant will include 3 seminars that train 60 fellows and feature 30 speakers, 3 conferences that educate over 300 audience members, and a collection of classic and contemporary readings on neuroscience and philosophy for undergraduate and graduate courses in various departments. Later outcomes will include at least 20 original research papers by the fellows, post-doc, and directors. Our goal is to create lasting bonds among future leaders in philosophy and neuroscience who will continue to collaborate for many years on more interdisciplinary research projects that address the big questions. This project has the potential to change both fields by stimulating new interdisciplinary courses and programs in numerous universities and by providing inspiring models of how to engage in cutting-edge scientific research on big questions of philosophy.
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