PHILOSOPHY OF MIND

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P

HILOSOPHY OF

M

IND

What are minds? What is the nature of thought, consciousness and sensory experience?

Can these phenomena be explained in purely physical terms? Are there good reasons to think that our minds are in some way separate from our bodies? If so, how can our minds have effects in the physical world? In this course we will examine and evaluate some of the answers that philosophers have given to questions such as these.

Preliminary Reading:

John Heil,

Philosophy of Mind: A Contemporary Introduction

(Third Edition,

Routledge, 2013)

Tim Crane, Elements of Mind (Oxford University Press, 2001)

Lectures: The lectures for this module will be held in **, on Tuesdays from 2-3 pm in the Spring Term. The lecturer is Dr. Sarah Patterson ([email protected]).

Seminars: The seminars for this module will be held in **, on Tuesdays from 3-4 pm in the Spring Term. They will be led by the lecturer and by **.

Readings: Every week there is one key reading that is the focus of the seminar discussion. One of the purposes of the seminar is to help you to understand the reading, so do not worry if you have not fully understood it in advance. Nevertheless, it is essential that you attempt the seminar reading each week if you are to follow the lecture and to participate in the seminar discussion. There is also ‘additional reading’ listed that will deepen your understanding and help you to get the most out of the module. You are especially advised to cover the additional reading for those topics on which you are planning to write.

Essays (BA): This module is assessed by one essay of around 3,000 words. It must be written in response to one of the set questions listed below,

except with permission from the module convenor

. For details concerning submission of the essay, including deadlines, see the BA Handbook.

Prior to this assessed essay, you may also write up to two essays during the course, taken from the titles below, and receive feedback on them from your seminar leader. These can be useful practice for your eventual assessed essay. You should submit the first such essay by the first seminar after reading week, and the second by one week after the last seminar of term. [Notes: (1) You are always welcome to submit an essay earlier than these dates; (2) the seminar leader should not be expected to comment on the same essay more than once.]

Essay (MA): This module is assessed by one essay of around 3,500 words. It must be written in response to one of the set questions listed below,

except with permission from the module convenor

. For details concerning submission of the essay, including deadlines, see the MA Handbook.

Moodle: Electronic copies of course materials are available through Moodle, at http://moodle.bbk.ac.uk

. You will need your ITS login name and password to enter.

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Schedule of Topics and Readings

Week 1 Cartesian Dualism

Seminar Reading:

Descartes,

Meditations on First Philosophy,

Second and Sixth Meditations

Additional Reading:

John Heil,

Philosophy of Mind: A Contemporary Introduction

(Third Edition,

Routledge, 2013), Ch. 2

Margaret Wilson, ‘The Epistemological Argument for Mind-Body Distinctness’,

Nous

(1976) 10: 3-15

James van Cleve, ‘Conceivability and the Cartesian Argument for Dualism’,

Pac.

Phil. Q

. (1983) 64: 35-45

Stephen Yablo, ‘The Real Distinction Between Mind and Body’,

Can. J. Phil. Supp.

(199) 16: 149-201

Essay Question o

Does Descartes succeed in showing that his mind is distinct from his body?

Week 2 Behaviourism

Seminar Reading:

Gilbert Ryle, ‘Descartes’ Myth’, Ch. 1 of his

The Concept of Mind

(1949)

Additional Reading:

John Heil,

Philosophy of Mind: A Contemporary Introduction

(Third Edition,

Routledge, 2013), Ch. 4

Rudolf Carnap, ‘Psychology in Physical Language’ in Chalmers

Hilary Putnam, ‘Brains and Behavior’ in Chalmers

Ned Block, ‘Psychologism and Behaviorism’,

Phil. Rev

. (1981) 90: 5-43

Essay Question o

Explain and assess Ryle’s claim that what he calls “Descartes’ Myth” is based on a category-mistake.

Week 3 Identity Theory

Seminar Reading:

J.J.C. Smart, ‘Sensations and Brain Processes’

Phil. Rev

. (1959) 68: 141-56 (in

Chalmers)

Additional Reading:

John Heil,

Philosophy of Mind: A Contemporary Introduction

(Third Edition,

Routledge, 2013), Ch. 5

U.T. Place, ‘Is Consciousness a Brain Process?’

Brit. J. Psych

. 47: 44-50 (in

Chalmers)

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Herbert Feigl, excerpt from ‘The “Mental” and the “Physical”’

(in Chalmers)

David Lewis, ‘An Argument for the Identity Theory’

J. Phil

. (1966) 63: 17-25

(available via Birkbeck elibrary)

Essay Question o

Compare the way in which Smart and Lewis argue for the identity theory. Is either of their arguments convincing?

Week 4 Functionalism

Seminar Reading:

Hilary Putnam, ‘The Nature of Mental States’ (in Chalmers)

Additional Reading:

John Heil,

Philosophy of Mind: A Contemporary Introduction

(Third Edition,

Routledge, 2013), Ch. 6

David Armstrong, ‘The Causal Theory of the Mind’

(in Chalmers)

Ned Block, ‘Troubles with Functionalism’

(in Chalmers)

Martine Nida-Rümelin, ‘Pseudonormal Vision: An Actual Case of Qualia Inversion?’

(in Chalmers)

Janet Levin, ‘Functionalism’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/functionalism/

Essay Questions o

‘Functionalism provides a plausible account of beliefs and desires, but not of sensations.’ Discuss. o

What is the strongest objection to functionalism? Can it be met? o

In what ways, if any, is functionalism an improvement on behaviourism?

Week 5 Modal Arguments

Seminar Reading:

Saul Kripke, excerpt from

Naming and Necessity

(in Chalmers)

Additional Reading:

Christopher Hill, excerpt from ‘Imaginability, Conceivability, Possibility and the

Mind-Body Problem’ (in Chalmers)

Grover Maxwell, excerpt from ‘Rigid Designators and Mind-Brain Identity’

(in

Chalmers)

Essay Question o

‘If it’s true the pain is C-fibre firing, then it’s necessarily true. But it’s not necessarily true, so it’s not true at all.’ Discuss.

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Week 6 The Knowledge Argument

Seminar Reading:

Frank Jackson, ‘Epiphenomenal Qualia’

Additional Reading:

John Heil,

Philosophy of Mind: A Contemporary Introduction

(Third Edition,

Routledge, 2013), Ch. 10

David Lewis, ‘What Experience Teaches’

(in Chalmers)

Brian Loar, ‘Phenomenal States’

(in Chalmers)

Daniel Stoljar, ‘Two Conceptions of the Physical’ (in Chalmers)

Robert Van Gulick, ‘So Many Ways of Saying ‘No’ to Mary’, http://thecollege.syr.edu/profiles/_pdfs-other/PHI/Ways%20of%20Saying%20No.pdf

Essay Question o

What is the best objection to Jackson’s Knowledge Argument? Is it decisive?

Week 7 The Explanatory Gap

Seminar Reading:

Joseph Levine, ‘Materialism and Qualia: The Explanatory Gap’ (in Chalmers)

Additional Reading:

Thomas Nagel, ‘What is it Like to be a Bat?’

(in Chalmers)

Colin McGinn, ‘Can we Solve the Mind-Body Problem?’ (in Chalmers)

Kathleen Akins, ‘A Bat Without Qualities?’ in M. Davies and G. Humphreys (eds.)

Consciousness

(Blackwell, 1993)

Essay Question o

‘There must be some solution to the problem of consciousness, but humans will never be able to understand it.’ Discuss.

Week 8 Non-Reductive Physicalism

Seminar Reading:

Donald Davidson, ‘Mental Events’ ( in Chalmers)

Additional Reading:

John Heil,

Philosophy of Mind: A Contemporary Introduction

(Third Edition,

Routledge, 2013), Ch. 11

Jerry Fodor, ‘Special Sciences’ (in Chalmers)

Essay Questions o

‘Anomalous monism resembles materialism in its claim that all events are physical, but rejects the thesis, usually considered essential to materialism, that mental phenomena can be given purely physical explanations’ (Davidson). Discuss.

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o

Explain what is meant by the claim that the mental is anomalous. Does

the claim count for or against physicalism?

Week 9 Mental Causation: The Problem(s)

Seminar Reading:

Jaegwon Kim, ‘The Many Problems of Mental Causation’ (in Chalmers)

Additional Reading:

Donald Davidson, ‘Thinking Causes’ in

J. Heil and A. Mele (eds.),

Mental Causation

(Oxford University Press, 1993)

Tim Crane, ‘The Mental Causation Debate’ in

Proceedings of the Aristotelian

Society

Supp. Vol. 69 (1995), p. 211-36

D. Robb and J. Heil, ‘Mental Causation’, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,

 http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mental-causation/

Sarah Patterson, ‘Epiphenomenalism and Occasionalism: Problems of Mental

Causation, Past and Present’

Essay Question o

‘Property dualists are no better off than Descartes when it comes to explaining how the mind can have effects in the physical world.’ Discuss.

Week 10 Mental Causation: The Solution?

Seminar Reading:

Stephen Yablo, ‘Mental Causation’ (in Chalmers)

Additional Reading:

Karen Bennett, ‘Why the Exclusion Problem Seems Intractable, and How, Just

Maybe, to Tract It’

Nous

(2003) 37: 471-97

John Gibbons, ‘Mental Causation Without Downward Causation’

Phil. Rev

. (2006)

115: 79-103

Douglas Ehring, ‘Mental Causation, Determinables and Property Instances’

Nous

(1996) 30: 461-80

Essay Questions o o

Can a non-reductive physicalist allow for genuine mental causation?

Does reflection on mental causation give us reasons to believe in the psycho-physical identity theory or reasons to reject it?

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