PHL471: Philosophy of Mind
Professor: Craig DeLancey
I do not accept homeworks by email!
Final exam 10:30 a.m. -- 12:30 p.m. in class.
Final papers due in my office by 2:00 p.m.
Aim for 8-10 pages long if you are a philosophy major, else
aim for 6-8 pages. I won't be a stickler about those
targets. I will look at drafts as late as May 12. Below
are some possible paper topics.
guide to writing papers to determine the format.
For finding work by other philosophers, use the Philosopher's
Index. (That link might not work off campus. Go to
the library's list of resources and use the link there.)
For citations, you can use APA. Here's a linke to an APA style citation guide that may prove
useful: https://www.library.cornell.edu/resrch/citmanage/apa. You can search for papers of
interest using Philosopher's Index and you
can find information of interest on the Oxford Bibliographies
- Does the Knowledge Argument work? A number of recent
arguments have held that there is something different about
phenomenal information but that this is consistent with
physicalist type identity theory about phenomenal experience.
Evaluate one of these arguments.
- Does the conceivability argument work? Why or why not?
Ask me for some of the recent criticisms so I can point you to
some views you should respond to.
- Does Nash's new cognitive theory solve all the problems
that cognitivism about emotions have? How, for example, could
it handle emoting for fictions? Or other difficult cases?
- Are the emotions we have for fictions the same kinds
that we have for real events?
- Is strong cognitivism a viable theory of emotions like
fear and anger? If so, answer some of the criticisms of DeLancey,
Griffiths, or others.
- Defend or criticize the memory theory of personal identity.
- Which of Nagel's five options for explaining self-identity
of the split-brain patients do you think is correct? Why? Can
you offer some reasons of your own?
- Are Clark and Chalmers right about externalism? Consider
at least one of the published criticisms.
- Can we have a form of compatibilism or libertarianism about
free will consistent with the neural science results we have
- Consider one of the scientific papers cited by Wegner or
Soon et al. Read it and assess the method. Does it really
show something about free will? Or are they measuring
something unrelated to free will?
Here are some study questions for the final exam:
- What are: interactive substance dualism;
physicalistic reduction; eliminativism; functionalism;
behaviorism; interpretationism (this is the fancy name
for Dennett's view); epiphenomenalism?
- What is William James's view of the nature of
emotion? Explain with an example.
- What is a cognitivist theory of emotion, such as
the belief-desire theory, a judgment theory, or the new
pure cognitive theory of Nash? Explain with examples.
- What problems might there be with a cognitivist
theory of emotions? How might the cognitivist answer
- Why might emoting for fiction pose a problem for
the cognitivist theory of emotion?
- Are the emotions we have for fictions the same
kinds that we have for real events? The literature on
this is huge -- respond to something recent.
- What is the Knowledge Argument? What is it
meant to show? Describe Jackson's thought experiment.
- What is the zombie argument? What is it meant to
- Why is there a problem of personal identity? That
is, why isn't it just obvious that I am me, that you are
- What is a person for Locke? What makes a person
the same person over time? What links this person over
periods when consciousness ends or is interrupted?
- What is Hume's criticism of personal identity claims
- What kind of problems do split brain patients raise
for our thinking about the self? Why might they lead
one to worry about whether there are several selves?
- What is active externalism, such as externalism about
belief? What are some reasons to endorse externalism?
What are some reasons to doubt it?
- Evaluate the arguments of Soon et al, and of Wegner.
What is conscious free will? Do these arguments show
we do not have conscious free will? Do they show sometimes
we are mistaken about having conscious free will?
Tentative assignments (these will change substantially)