Philosophy of Mind
(December 12): The final papers are due on Friday the 15th of December
at 5pm in my mailbox, 503 Main Building; here are the topics. The final exam is on Monday the 18th
of December at 10am, in 628 Shimkin Hall. The handout summarising the second
half of the course that was given out in class on the 11th is available here. Thanks to everyone who participated in
In this course we'll be thinking about immaterial spirits, futuristic computers
and robots, fake computers with little people inside, Martians who behave
like us but have an internal structure very different from ours, brains
in vats, 'swampmen' who are formed by random aggregation of molecules....
We will ask whether these strange characters have thoughts and feelings,
and whether, if so, they are like us in what they think and feel. We will
consider how we might know the answers to these questions, and whether
they even have right answers. The point is not to consider bizarre cases
just for the sake of it, but to see what light we can shed on our own nature
as beings with mental lives.
Course Code: V83.-0080; Registration Code 75126.
Instructor: Cian Dorr,
503H Main Building, office hours: Mondays at 3:00 PM or by appointment,
Schechter, 503M Main Building, office hours: Thursdays at 1:00 PM
or by appointment, email: email@example.com.
Lecture Times: 11 - 12.15, Mondays and Wednesdays, 630 Shimkin
Optional Discussion Group: Tuesdays at 5:00 PM, 503M Main Building.
You will need two books, both of which are available at Posman's bookstore
on University Place:
David Rosenthal (ed.), The Nature of Mind, Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1991.
David Braddon-Mitchell and Frank Jackson, Philosophy of Mind and
Cognition, Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1996
There are some additional readings which are not in either of
these volumes. These will be handed out in
class, unless they are optional, in which case they will be available from the Philosophy
Department office or on the web.
Your final grade will be determined as follows:
|10% ||2-3 page paper, due on October the 11th. Topics
|20% ||4-6 page paper, due on November the 13th. Topics
|30% ||8-12 page paper, due in December. Topics
|30% ||Final exam
|10% ||Participation grade
What makes for a good philosophy paper? There is much to be said about
this question, and Jim Pryor has said it: please read his Guidelines
on writing a philosophy paper before you start writing.
Readings marked 'NM' are to be found in David Rosenthal's The Nature of
Mind. 'BMJ' abbreviates references to chapters in Braddon-Mitchell and
Jackson, Philosophy of Mind and Cognition. If there are changes
to the syllabus as the course progresses, they will be recorded on this
The nature of mental properties
Substance Dualism (1 session)
René Descartes, Meditations II and VI (NM 1)
Handout on Descartes
Property Dualism and Materialism
BMJ ch. 1
BMJ ch. 2, ch. 9.
Daniel Dennett, 'True Believers: The Intentional Strategy and Why It
Works' (NM 36)
Hilary Putnam, 'Brains and Behavior' (NM 16)
Optional: Alex Byrne,
The 'Identity Theory'
J.J.C. Smart, 'Sensations and Brain Processes' (NM 17)
David Lewis, 'Psychophysical and Theoretical Identifications' (NM 22)
Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity, excerpts (NM 25)
Optional: David Armstrong, 'The Causal Theory of Mind' (NM
Hilary Putnam, 'The Nature of Mental States' (NM 21)
David Lewis, 'Mad Pain and Martian Pain' (NM 24)
BMJ ch. 3, 6, 5, 7
Ned Block, 'Troubles with Functionalism' (NM 23)
John R. Searle, 'Minds, Brains and Programs' (NM 55)
Optional: Ned Block, 'The
Mind as Software of the Brain' (online only); 'Functionalism' (in Guttenplan);
the debate between Searle and Fodor (NM 55); Sydney Shoemaker,
'Functionalism and Qualia' (NM 43)
Eliminativism (1 session)
Paul Churchland, 'Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional
Attitudes' (NM 61)
BMJ ch. 13
Optional: Stephen P. Stich, 'Autonomous
Psychology and the Belief-Desire Thesis' (NM 60)
|Summary of the first half of
Content and Consciousness
Content: Wide and Narrow
Bertrand Russell, Principles of Philosophy, excerpts
Tyler Burge, 'Individualism and the Mental' (NM 57)
BMJ ch. 12
Optional: W.V. Quine, 'Quantifiers and Propositional Attitudes'
(NM 33); Brian Loar, 'Social Content and Psychological Content' (NM 58);
Robert Stalnaker, 'On What's in the Head' (NM 59)
Content: What determines it?
BMJ ch. 10, 11
Jerry Fodor, 'Why There Still Has to Be a Language Of
Thought' (in his Psychosemantics (MIT Press, 1987) and in Lycan)
Daniel Dennett, 'Brain Writing and Mind Reading' (NM 54)
Optional: Fred Dretske, 'The Intentionality of
Cognitive States' (NM 37); Tim Van Gelder, 'What Might Cognition
Be, If Not Computation?' (Journal of Philosophy 112, 1995; in
Consciousness: the Knowledge Argument
BMJ, pp. 127-135.
Frank Jackson, 'What Mary Didn't Know' (NM 42)
Brian Loar, 'Phenomenal States' (Philosophical
Perspectives 4, 1990)
David Lewis, 'What Experience Teaches' (in Lewis,
Papers in Metaphysics and Epistemology, Cambridge, 1999; in Lycan)
Optional: Thomas Nagel, 'What Is It Like to Be a Bat?' (NM 46)
David Chalmers, The Conscious Mind (excerpts)
Daniel Dennett, 'Quining Qualia'
Consciousness and Content: Representationalism
(2 sessions, time permitting)
Gilbert Harman, 'The Intrinsic Quality of Experience'
(Philosophical Perspectives 4, 1990; in
Ned Block, 'Inverted Earth' (Philosophical
Perspectives 4, 1990; in Lycan)
BMJ have a useful glossary of terms in the philosophy of mind. For
more general philosophical vocabulary, I recommend Jim Pryor's Philosophical
Terms and Methods. The best reference work on the philosophy of
mind is A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind, by Samuel
Guttenplan (Blackwell, 1994). General encyclopedias and dictionaries
of philosophy can also be useful: the most complete is the
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (ed. Edward Craig); two
up-to-date one-volume references are the Oxford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy (ed. Ted Honderich) and the Cambridge Dictionary
of Philosophy (ed. Robert Audi). On the web, there is a Dictionary
of the Philosophy of Mind, the MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive
Sciences, and the Stanford Encyclopedia
of Philosophy, which currently doesn't have very much in the
philosophy of mind. David Chalmers maintains
the best philosophy of mind links page on the web.
Two other textbook-style overviews of the philosophy of mind are Jaegwon
Kim, Philosophy of Mind (Westview Press, 1998) and David
Armstrong, The Mind-Body Problem: An Opinionated Introduction
(Westview Press, 1999). William Lycan's Mind and Cognition
(2nd edition, Blackwell, 1999) is a book of readings that contains several
of the articles we will be reading that aren't in Rosenthal.
Warning: philosophers of mind disagree about how some of the key terms
should be defined: for example, some people use 'physicalism' for what I
will be calling the "Identity Theory". So if you come across a definition
of some term in one of the readings, don't just assume that it will carry
over into other readings.