Projects in Previous Years

1st Semester 2019/20: Hypothetical Reasoning: its development and impact


Dean McHugh.

If you are interested in this project, please contact the instructor(s) by email.

Registration until 17 December 2019, 13:00  hr.  through, using the course code: 5314RHYR6Y


Hypothetical reasoning is essential in many areas of life:

  • planning (“If we take the train, we’ll be there earlier.”)
  • determining causation (“If the sensors had been working, the plane would not have crashed”)
  • drafting policy (“If we build social housing, poverty levels will decline”)
  • attributions of moral responsibility, praise and blame (“The accident is your fault: if you had been more aware, the accident would not have happened“)
  • law (“If the candidate were male, her salary would be higher: so the employer unlawfully discriminated on the basis of sex”)

In this project we investigate the psychological development and moral implications of hypothetical reasoning.



The course will feature lectures during the first two weeks, on the following topics:

  1. Moral responsibility
  2. The psychology of hypothetical reasoning (guest lecture by Ivar Kolvoort from the UvA faculty of psychology)
  3. Causation: morality and gradability
  4. Causation in the law, a case study: discrimination law

Students will then have supervision meetings to develop their own ideas.

A detailed description of the project is available on the project homepage.


An interest in the topic.


Pass/fail based on:

  • Class participation
  • A presentation at the end of the third week
  • A two-page conference abstract

Please consult the project homepage.