Philosophy of Mind

       Questions for first exam

       Questions for final exam

Professor: William Bechtel
Office: 225 Busch Hall
Telephone: 935-5119
Office Hours: Monday 3:30-5:00 and by appointment
Phil 315
Spring, 2000
2:30-3:30 PM, Monday, Wednesday, Friday
Ridgely 219 

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; papers 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 date 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 provide proper attribution, 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.

If possible, I encourage you to submit papers electronically in Microsoft Word as email attachments to  Email must be sent before the beginning of the class when the papers are due to be counted as on-time.

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 19:  Introduction: Scientific and Philosophical investigation of the mind

The Mind-Body Problem

January 21: Descartes’ Legacy: Dualism, Bechtel, pp. 79-88

January 24: The appeal and problems of dualism
January 26:  Behaviorism: Philosophical and Psychological, Bechtel, pp. 88-93
January 28: The Identity Theory. U. T. Place, “Is consciousness a brain process?” p. 14; Bechtel, pp. 94-102

January 31: Discussion: Dualism, Behaviorism, and Identity Theory
February 2: Functionalism I: D. M. Armstrong, “The causal theory of mind,” p. 20; Bechtel, pp. 112-123
February 4: Functionalism II: Hilary Putnam, “The nature of mental states,” p. 27

February 7:   Challenges to Functionalism: Ned Block, excerpt from “Troubles with functionalism,” p. 435
February 9:   Variations on Functionalism I: William G. Lycan, “The continuity of levels of nature,” p. 49
February 11: Variations on Functionalism II: Elliott Sober, “Putting the function back into functionalism,”
                       p. 63; Bechtel, pp. 136-140

The Status of Folk Theories

February 14: Folk theories of Mind
                     FIRST PAPER DUE
February 16: Eliminativism I: Stephen P. Stich, “Autonomous psychology and the belief-desire thesis,” p. 259
February 18: Eliminativism II: Paul M. Churchland, “Eliminative materialism and the propositional attitudes,”
                       p. 120.

February 21: Defending Folk Theories. Terrence Horgan and James Woodward, “Folk psychology is here to stay,”
                       p. 271
February 23: Privileged Access and the Problem of Other Minds
February 25: The Simulation View. Robert M. Gordon, “Folk psychology as simulations,” p. 405

February 28: Theory-theory versus simulation. Martin Davies, “The mental simulation debate,” p. 414
March 1:       Review
March 3:      FIRST EXAM

Mental Representation and Intentionality

March 13: The Language of Thought Hypothesis I: Bechtel, pp. 54-64
March 15: The Language of Thought Hypothesis II:   Jerry A. Fodor, “Why there still has to be a language of
                   thought,” p. 199
March 17: The Semantics of Mental States I: Ruth Garrett Millikan, “Biosemantics,” p. 221

March 20: The Semantics of Mental States II: Jerry A. Fodor, “A theory of content,” p. 230
March 22: The Intentional Stance I: Daniel C. Dennett, “True believers: The intentional strategy and why it
                   works,” p. 75; Bechtel, pp. 70-77
March 24: The Intentional Stance II: Stephen P. Stich, “Dennett on intentional systems,” p. 87

March 27: The Intentional Stance III: Daniel C. Dennett, “Real patterns,” p. 100
March 29: Discussion: What does it take to be an intentional system?
March 31: Neurophilosophy I. Paul M. Churchland and Patricia Smith Churchland, “Stalking the wild epistemic
                   engine,” p. 212

April 3:    Neurophilosophy II. Patricia Smith Churchland and Terrence J. Sejnowski, “Neural representation and
                 neural computation,” p. 133
April 5:    Discussion: Are brains intentional systems?

Consciousness and Qualitative Experience

April 7:  The Qualia Problem. Frank Jackson, “Epiphenomenal qualia,” p. 440; Bechtel, pp. 128-136

April 10: Functionalist Defenses I. David Lewis, “What experience teaches,” p. 447
April 12: Functionalist Defenses II. Robert van Gulick, “Understanding the phenomenal mind: Are we all just
                armadillos?” p. 461
April 14: The Representationalist Strategy I. Gilbert Harman, “The intrinsic quality of experience,” p. 474

April 17: The Representationalist Strategy II. Ned Block, “Inverted earth,” p. 484
April 19: Discussion: What does it take to be conscious?

The Emotions

April 21: What are emotions?  What do they do for us?
               SECOND PAPER DUE

April 24: The Cognitive Approach. Ronald Alan Nash, “Cognitive theories of emotion,” p. 503
April 26: Types of Emotions, Paul E. Griffiths, “Modularity, and the psychoevolutionary theory of emotions,”
                p. 516
April 28: Review

May 5:     FINAL EXAM: 10:30-12:30