3. Numerous reprints of additional course readings. Additional readings will either be photocopies distributed in class or articles available in e-mail.
Dave Chalmer’s Website: http://jamaica.u.arizona.edu/~chalmers/index.html
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html
A Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind: http://host.uniroma3.it/progetti/kant/field/index.html
Dictionary of Philosophy of Mind: http://www.artsci.wustl.edu/~philos/MindDict/main.html
Course Description and Objectives
In this course we will discuss the way in which physicalistic and anti physicalistic approaches has come a particular kind of hegemony over other subjects in philosophy of mind. We will try to understand why these two doctrines has come to prominence in recent decades and how they concern with the “Mind-Body problem”.
The branch of philosophy of Mind called the “Mind-Body problem” concerns our understanding of the mind’s place in the universe. We begin with our commonsense understanding of the mind, as that collection of properties, attributes, states activities and abilities that we refer to in our everyday use of psychological terms and expressions to characterize each other and ourselves. With this commonsense understanding in hand, we ask: What sort of entity is the mind? This is a metaphysical questions; it concerns the fundamental constitution of the universe, the things we find in that universe, and the way in which the mental exists in nature.
The focus of this course can be divided very roughly into four main sections, each of which, however, overlaps with and is many respects continuous with the other topics. (1) First, we address the traditional ‘mind-body’ problem – the question concerning the relationship between the mental and the physical world. We will canvass the most influential answers to the mind-body problem focusing on dualism and psycho-neural identity. (2) Second, we will examine in greater depth the doctrine of psysicalism and considerations for and against “reductive” and “non-reductive” physicalism. (3) Third, we will examine the problem of phenomenal consciousness and the proposal that the existence of “qualia” demonstrates that reductive physicalism is false. (4) Finally, we will examine the nature of phenomenal concepts – the cognitive tools our minds purportedly use to think and reason about phenomenal properties. Topics (1) and (3) we will occupy of our attention.
The primary aim of the course is to leave students with a firm grasp of many of the central problems and issues addressed in recent work by “analytic” philosophers of mind.
The course readings are for the most part quite difficult. In order to grasp, discuss and critique the ideas and arguments developed in the readings, students will find the material easier to manage if they attend all lectures and are committed to going over the readings on their own more than once. Moreover, it is strongly recommended that students have had substantive previous experience with reading philosophy and the technical aspects of critiquing arguments.
This course satisfies the advanced metaphysics requirement or an advanced elective requirement for the philosophy major.
Your grade in class will be determined by the following: reading discussion (40%), paper (30%), exam (30%).
There will be one paper. You will be asked to write essay in response to very specific questions. Your answers should draw from course material – readings and lectures-and should demonstrate a thorough grasp of the material, both descriptively and critically. In other words, in addition to understanding the ideas, you should be able to grasp the argumentative structure of these ideas and, if asked, critique the accompanying arguments persuasively.
In addition, students will also be asked to choose a relevant article that's been published in a major philosophy journal or anthology within the past five years, on which they are to write a brief (2-3 page) commentary to be presented in the class.
Parameters for suitable target articles: Your target article should…
have been published within the last 7 years,
in an established philosophy journal (i.e., one indexed in the Philosopher’s Index ) or anthology,