Kies de Nederlandse taal
Course module: 202200010
Machines, minds, and society: the ethics and epistemology of AI
Course infoSchedule
Course module202200010
Credits (ECTS)5
Course typeCourse
Language of instructionEnglish
Contact persondr. D. Babushkina
dr. D. Babushkina
Contactperson for the course
dr. D. Babushkina
dr. M.H. Nagenborg
dr. A. Votsis
Academic year2022
Starting block
Application procedureYou apply via OSIRIS Student
Registration using OSIRISYes
This course is open only to students enrolled in the Master PSTS .
In case you, as a student from another master’s programme, would like to participate in this course, please contact the PSTS staff: or

This course connects to the final qualification K2, K5, K6, S2-S3, S6 and S8 of the PSTS programme, according to the learning objectives described below.

In the end of the course, the students will be able to:
ILO1: Explain AI as a complex phenomenon from the viewpoint of the humanities (incl. ethics, epistemology, communication theory, and semiotics);
ILO2: Explain and apply core terminology, main approaches, and arguments in the domains of ethics and epistemology of AI;
ILO3: Apply and critically reflect upon a set of principles for normative research on the role of AI in decision making;
ILO4: Formulate ethical, epistemological, and critical humanities considerations in the design of AI systems
The course will give a systematic introduction to the ethics and epistemology of AI (including robotics) in the context of a larger debate in the humanities. The course will consist of eight interactive lectures. We will put emphasis on the evaluation of socio-cultural effects of AI and the ethical constraints on the role of AI in decision making processes.
Given the rapidly growing use of AI in various social spheres, on the one side, and largely experimental nature of this technology, which often remains “a black box”, on the other, there is a pressing need for a responsible stance towards design and implementation of this technology which would ensure mitigation of possible harm. The course offers a systematic approach to the responsible AI, which lays through the understanding of AI as an epistemic tool and as a mode of communication and meaning generation. The course is structured in the following way. It will start with a comprehensive introduction to the subject and an overview of the proposed approach to the normative study of AI. We will, then, define the complex field of AI and the variety of methodologies that it uses, and offer a philosophical account of AI and artificial epistemology. Next, we will evaluate AI as a cultural phenomenon, from the perspective of philosophy, semiotics, and communication science, and explore its disruptive effects on “socio-cultural sustainability”. In the end, we will discuss the normative constraints on the use of AI for decision making purposes and look at relevant application cases.
Besides theoretical work, the students will discuss literature, debate about key topics of the course, have hands-on exposure to AI examples, and co-develop prototypes of AI systems by learning to reflect on their normative underpinnings and adapting existing approaches to incorporate perspectives from the humanities.

(1) Reflective prototype sketch, group assignment, 20 % (ILOs 1, 2, 4);
(2) Final Essay, individual assignment, 80 % (ILOs 1, 2, 3).
Participating study
Master Philosophy of Science, Technology and Soc.
Required materials
To be announced
Recommended materials
Instructional modes
Presence dutyYes

Presence dutyYes

Presence dutyYes

Presence dutyYes

Presence dutyYes

Presence dutyYes

Reflective prototype sketch and Final essay

Kies de Nederlandse taal