PHL471: Philosophy of Mind
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: CC212A

Current Assignments
I do not accept homeworks by email!

16 May
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.
Use my 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: 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 discussed?
  • 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 those concerns?
  • 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 show?
  • Why is there a problem of personal identity? That is, why isn't it just obvious that I am me, that you are you?
  • 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 like Locke's?
  • 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)