Philosophy of Technology

Spring 2023

Andreas Kay, Orchid bee, Euglossa sp., Euglossini

Andreas Kay, Orchid Bee (Euglossa, Euglossini)


Course CodeLocationTimes
PHIL-SHU 130567 West Yangsi Road, Room EB118Wednesdays, 5:00pm to 7:30pm


NameEmailOfficeConsultation Times
Brad Weslakebrad.weslake@nyu.edu567 West Yangsi Road, Room W826By appointment
Anna Greenspanag158@nyu.edu567 West Yangsi Road, Room W847Wednesday 1:30pm-3:30pm, or by appointment


The fundamental question of this course is whether, and under what conditions, it makes sense to attribute minds to technological artefacts. The approach we take is to consider this question in light of much more general questions about both the nature of mind, and the extent of mental phenomena in the universe. Our hope is that by considering these general questions, the more specific questions about the minds of technological artefacts will become more tractable. The hypothesis the course explores is that the unclarities we face when considering whether, for example, current forms of artificial intelligence have minds trace back to more general unclarities about what it is to have a mind in the first place.



The final grade will be determined approximately as follows:

Attendance and class participation: 15%
Online forum participation: 15%
Class notes: 10%
Oral exam: 20%
Paper proposal: 15%
Paper: 25%


Attendance and Lateness

Students are required to attend all classes on time. An explanation for every absence or late attendance must be submitted in writing to the instructors. Every failure to attend class on time will count against the component of the final grade awarded for attendance and participation, unless an explanation is received and approved at least one day prior to the class in question. Requests for exceptions will be considered on a case by case basis, and typically granted only when related to an illness or other unforeseeable change in life circumstance.


It is a condition on passing this course that students read and adhere to the NYU Shanghai policy on academic integrity as described in the current NYU Shanghai Academic Bulletin.

Course Materials

All notes, readings and assignments can be found here.


Meeting 1: The Mark of the Mental (Wednesday 1 February)

Primary Reading

Meeting 2: Other Minds, Inside and Out (Wednesday 8 February)

Primary Reading

Meeting 3: Animal Minds (Wednesday 15 February)

Primary Reading

Meeting 4: Octos and Bees (Wednesday 22 February)

Primary Reading

Meeting 5: Plant Minds I (Wednesday 1 March)

Primary Reading

Meeting 6: Plant Minds II: Visit from Mileece (Wednesday 8 March)

Meeting 7: Artificial Intelligence (Wednesday 15 March)

Primary Reading

Meeting 8: Large Language Models (Wednesday 22 March)

Meeting 9: Oral Exams (Wednesday 29 March)

Qingming Break (3–7 April)

Meeting 10: Alien Minds I (Wednesday 12 April)

Primary Reading

Meeting 11: Alien Minds II: Visit from Bogna Konior (Wednesday 19 April)

Meeting 12: Panpsychism (Wednesday 26 April)

Primary Reading

Meeting 13: Spinoza (Wednesday 3 May)

Primary Reading

Meeting 14: Artificial Intelligence Reconsidered (Wednesday 10 May)

Updated: 30 January 2023