I currently study philosophy at an undergraduate level at Trinity College Dublin, and I am interested in pursuing philosophy of mind at a graduate level – certainly with a PhD. That's the hope anyway.
I have considered perhaps doing something like an MPhil at Cambridge. Yet, I am concerned that a lot of work in philosophy of mind doesn't seem to take into account where it sits on the boundary between science and philosophy, and a lot of what we get is some sort of babble that doesn't fit into what we know from science. Often, there is a lot of stuff that thinks it is informed by science, but really isn't – out of simple ignorance. I like David Chalmers's views on this:
"Everything I say here is compatible with the results of contemporary science; our picture of the natural world is broadened, not overturned."
I have considered completing an MSc in Neuroscience that doesn't take things from a philosophy perspective. There are quite a few programs, such as one at my own university, that accept students who come from a philosophy background, but are not actually philosophy-based, but instead the actual science of neuroscience. I think there would be a lot gained from doing something like this, because I am truly interested in making headway at the issues in philosophy of mind, while being informed about the science side of things.
My question is: how would an MSc in Neuroscience be viewed when applying to a Philosophy PhD program, such as the one at MIT (which allows the possibility of coming out with a minor in cognitive science)? Would that "year away from philosophy" hurt me – and even if the "year away" isn't the issue, would having completed a non-philosophy MSc be viewed negatively? How about if I was to go on to do the one-year MPhil at Cambridge (maybe it would even be an issue applying for this) after the MSc and then apply to PhD programs? I am interested in US programs, for a multitude of reasons.
I have also thought that doing post-doctoral fellowships could perhaps help me with the neuroscience side of things, but I am quite interested in completing a formal degree in the subject.