Philosophy of Mind

Professor: William Bechtel
Office: 208 Busch Hall
Telephone: 935-6873
Office Hours: Thursday, 1:00-3:00 and by appointment
Phil 311
Spring, 1999
2:30-4:00 PM, Monday and Wednesday
Cupples II, Room 

0.  Student Proposed Final Exam Questions

1. Description and Objectives

What is a mind? How does it relate to a person's brain? How does it relate to their body and the external world? Can a mind exist in a very different kind of body (e.g., a computer or a robot)? Does thinking require a language-like code? If so, can non-linguistic species think? What is it to have a mental image or to experience a pain? Questions such as these have been the focus of philosophical thinking about mind for hundreds of years. But they have taken on new urgency with the development of sciences such as psychology, cognitive science, and cognitive neuroscience, each of which has brought sophisticated research methodologies to the task of understanding how the mind works.

In this class we will consider some of the most important historical answers offered to the questions above as well as some of the views philosophers have developed in response to the contemporary sciences of the mind. The goal is for each student to be able to articulate the basic issues examined, to describe several possible responses to those issues, and to evaluate those positions critically. This course requires active participation, including reading assigned material before each class meeting and active participation in class discussions.

 2. Texts

 Bechtel, W. (1988). Philosophy of mind: An overview for cognitive science. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

 Lycan, W. G. (1999). Mind and cognition: An anthology. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

 3. Requirements

Attendance and participation in class is required. Extremely active participation in class may result in your final grade being higher than your base grade, while repeated absences or lack of participation may result in your final grade being lower than your base grade. Graded assignments for the course will include two in-class, closed-book exams and two 5-8 page argumentative papers, each counting for 25% of your base grade. Papers are due at the beginning of class on the day assigned; paper turned in after that time will be penalized a full letter grade for each 48 hours (or part thereof) that they are late. (The only exception to the late-paper penalty is if you notify me before the assigned due data and then provide a written excuse from a physician, campus heath service, or other relevant campus authority (such as your college office) indicating that, during the two full days prior to the due date, you had a serious medical condition or experienced a tragedy that made it impossible for you to write your essay. A similar excuse indicating a serious medical condition or tragedy at the time of the exam is required to be eligible for a make-up exam.)

Plagiarism. Turning in work under your name that is not your own is an extremely serious academic offense, and will be dealt with appropriately and severely (failing this class and possibly University disciplinary action). If you use the words or ideas of others (including text posted on a website), you must give them proper credit, in the form of a citation that clearly identifies the source. Direct quotations should be placed in quotation marks. If you have questions about whether an action you intend to take would constitute plagiarism, check with me beforehand.

4. Schedule of Classes. Note: this schedule is tentative; any adjustments in it will be announced in class. All reading assignments except those from Bechtel are from the Lycan anthology.

January 11:     Introduction: Scientific and Philosophical investigation of the mind

The Mind-Body Problem

January 13:     Descartes' Legacy: Dualism, Bechtel, pp. 79-88
January 18:     No class, Martin Luther King Holiday
January 20:     Behaviorism: Philosophical and Psychological, Bechtel, pp. 88-93
January 25:     The Identity Theory. U. T. Place, "Is consciousness a brain process?" p. 14; Bechtel, pp. 94-102
January 27:     Functionalism I. D. M. Armstrong, "The causal theory of mind," p. 20; Hilary Putnam, "The nature of mental
                      states," p. 27; Bechtel, pp. 112-123
February 1:     Functionalism II. Ned Block, excerpt from "Troubles with functionalism," p. 435; Jerry A. Fodor, excerpt from
                      "The Appeal to Tacit Knowledge in Psychological Explanation," p. 46;
February 3:     Functionalism III. William G. Lycan, "The continuity of levels of nature," p. 49; Elliott Sober, "Putting the
                       function back into functionalism," p. 63; Bechtel, pp. 136-140

The Status of Folk Theories

February 8:    Eliminating Folk Theories. Stephen P. Stich, "Autonomous psychology and the belief-desire thesis," p. 259;
                      Paul M. Churchland, "Eliminative materialism and the propositional attitudes," p. 120.
February 10:  Defending Folk Theories. Terrence Horgan and James Woodward, "Folk psychology is here to stay," p. 271
                   FIRST PAPER DUE
February 15:  Self-knowledge: Donald Davidson, "Knowing one's own mind," p. 383; John Heil, "Privileged access," p. 395
February 17:  The Simulation View. Robert M. Gordon, "Folk psychology as simulations," p. 405
February 22:  Theory-theory versus simulation. Martin Davies, "The mental simulation debate," p. 414

February 24: FIRST EXAM

Mental Representations and Intentionality

March 8:     The Language of Thought Hypothesis.  Jerry A. Fodor, "Why there still has to be a language of thought," p. 199;
                   Bechtel, pp. 54-64
March 10:   Psychosemantics I. Ruth Garrett Millikan, "Biosemantics," p. 221
March 15:   Psychosemantics II. Jerry A. Fodor, "A theory of content," p. 230
March 17:   The Intentional Stance I. Daniel C. Dennett, "True believers: The intentional strategy and why it works," p. 75;
                   Bechtel, pp. 70-77
March 22:   The Intentional Stance II. Stephen P. Stich, "Dennett on intentional systems," p. 87; Daniel C. Dennett, "Real
                   patterns," p. 100
March 24:   Neurophilosophy I. Paul M. Churchland and Patricia Smith Churchland, "Stalking the wild epistemic engine,"
                   p. 212
March 29:   Neurophilosophy II. Patricia Smith Churchland and Terrence J. Sejnowski, "Neural representation and neural
                   computation," p. 133

Consciousness and Qualitative Experience

March 31:    The Qualia Problem. Frank Jackson, "Epiphenomenal qualia," p. 440; Bechtel, pp. 128-136
April 5:         Functionalist Defenses I. David Lewis, "What experience teaches," p. 447
April 7:         Functionalist Defenses II. Robert van Gulick, "Understanding the phenomenal mind: Are we all just armadillos?"
                    p. 461
April 12:*     The Representationalist Strategy I. Gilbert Harman, "The intrinsic quality of experience," p. 474
April 14:       The Representationalist Strategy II. Ned Block, "Inverted earth," p. 484
                  SECOND PAPER DUE

The Emotions

April 19:     The Cognitive Approach. Ronald Alan Nash, "Cognitive theories of emotion," p. 503
April 21:     Types of Emotions, Paul E. Griffiths, "Modularity, and the psychoevolutionary theory of emotions," p. 516

April 30 (10:30-12:30)  FINAL EXAM