\ Craig DeLancey: PHL471 past assignments

PHL471: Philosophy of Mind
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: CC217
Email: delancey@oswego.edu




Past Assignments
0. Ontology and the basic ontological positions
29 January
From Aristotle's De Anima, please look at Book II part 1 (this is very short); an online version is this one at MIT.
31 January
Reading and an assignment.

Review Descartes's Meditations 6. If you somehow lost your personal copy of Meditations, translations on the web can be found at http://www.classicallibrary.org/descartes/meditations/ and http://www.wright.edu/cola/descartes/mede.html and http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl302/texts/descartes/meditations/meditations.html.

Homework 1. Bring me to hand in your summary of what you think Descartes's arguments are for believing that the mind is not a material thing. He has several arguments to this effect in Meditation 6, and they largely occur in the last third of that Meditation; try to summarize or describe at least one of them. You can do this in one page or a tiny bit more -- typed please. Please write in complete sentences; think of this as a very short paper.

In class, we want to ask: what changed between Aristotle and Descartes?

3 February
Reading. Please read parts I and II of Churchland's "Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes" Paul M. Churchland, The Journal of Philosophy Vol. 78, No. 2 (Feb., 1981), pp. 67-90.

The stable JStor link is here.

There are logical formulas in the paper. They may be written in a way you've never seen, but that's OK. You can skip them and still understand these two sections.

Do read the rest of the paper when you have time.

While reading, ask yourself:
  • What is a propositional attitude?
  • What are propositional attitudes supposed to explain?
  • What is folk psychology, according to Churchland?
  • What are some of the problems with folk psychology, according to Churchland?
  • What does the failure of folk psychology tell us about the things posited in that theory?
I might give you a brief opportunity at the beginning of class to write answers to these questions.

5 February
Finishing our discussion of Churchland. Discussion of functionalism and behaviorism.

I will have office hours today 1:45-3:00

7 February
Summary of ontological positions.

I won't have office hours today 1:45-3:00

1. Representation
10 February
The basic problem of representation. Read our Fodor selection on the handout. While reading the Fodor selection, ask yourself:
  • What is the problem that Fodor is presenting?
  • Why is this problem special to representation?
  • How might we solve or explain away this problem?

12 February
Read the handout of selected passages from the precis of Knowledge and the Flow of Information by Fred Dretske, and also the passage on the back of the Fodor handout. For us, an important question is, how does Dretske try to solve the normative problem (the disjunction problem)?

14 February
Before class, read Ruth Millikan's "Biosemantics" (Journal of Philosophy Vol. 86, No. 6 (Jun., 1989), pp. 281-297). (Off campus, you'll have to go to the JSTOR login page and then use the reference information to search.) You can skip section 5, and skim section 1 if it seems unclear. While reading, ask yourself the following possible quiz questions:
  • What is the difference between consumption and production of a representation?
  • What does the magnetosome example show?
Bring your copy to class, if you have a hard copy or other transportable copy.

17 February
We'll start with a brief quiz on the ontological positions: interactive substance dualism, type identity theory, behaviorism, functionalism, eliminativism. Then we'll discuss Millikan.

19 February
We'll ensure that Millikan is clear, and review her version of functionalism. Then we'll turn to Dennett.

Before class, a reading.

Read part I of "Intentional Systems" by Daniel Dennett, on JSTOR. Reference: Journal of Philosophy, February 1971. Part I is short: it's just pages 87-93 of the journal. While reading, ask yourself:
  • What is the intentional stance?
  • What is the physical stance?
  • What is the design stance?
  • What is a belief, according to Dennett?
  • What is a desire, according to Dennett?
  • How does Dennett's stance "solve" the problem of normativity of representation?
(Off campus, you'll have to go to the JSTOR login page and then use the reference information to search.)

21 February
Homework due at the beginning of class.

Homework 2 due at the beginning of class: using Dennett's three ways of looking at something (the intentional stance, the design stance, and the physical stance), describe a thermostat. That is, what is an intentional stance description of the "behavior" of the thermostat? What is a design stance interpretation of the "behavior" of the thermostat? What is the physical stance interpretation of the "behavior" of the thermostat?

24 February
Continuing with Dennett. Then, we'll turn to Searle's thought experiment on the Chinese room. Read at least up to where he says, "Now to the replies" in "Minds, Brains, and Programs" by John Searle.

26 February
Review of representation, and last observations about the Chinese Room thought experiment. Time permitting, we will introduce the problem of phenomenal experience.

2. Consciousness
28 February
Reading: Jackson's Epiphenomenal Qualia. Citation: The Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 127. (Apr., 1982), pp. 127-136. The important part is the first sections where he describes his two thought experiments. While reading, ask yourself the following likely quiz questions:
  • What does Jackson aim to show?
  • What is the Mary thought experiment?
  • What does Jackson claim the Mary thought experiment shows?
  • What is "epiphenomenalism"? Why does his argument, he claims, lead to such a view? Does it?

3 March
Homework and a reading.

Read and study the handout on Kripke's argument.

Homework: a brief report due at the beginning of class. Consider the representational state of belief. For example, consider the claim: "Kathleen believes that fire is dangerous." Assume this is something she really believes at the moment, actively and with awareness (I mean, let's not worry about the idea that some beliefs can be implicit but not actively felt). Accurately, but in your own words, explain how the following scholars will explain the normative nature of this mental state (by normative, remember that we mean that it can be right or wrong):
  • Dretske
  • Dennett
  • Millikan
  • Churchland
One of those is a trick question, obviously. In each case, cite (quote) the text to defend your account. This should only take a few pages.


7 March
Read the Chalmers selection: "The Two-Dimensional Argument".
You are only required to read part 1 of the paper.

(FYI: this is not formally related to our class, but anyone with an interest in philosophy is invited to join us this Friday, March 7, in the philosophy department suite (Campus Center 212), at 4:00 p.m. We'll just talk for an hour or so about a paper, "Refusing the Devil's Bargain," by Kyle Stanford. It is about science and the pessimistic induction. This paper is short (10 pages!) and is here.
As background: over the summer, faculty and students read and discussed a few papers together, over pizza. The goal was to get together informally and think like philosophers do. Students led the discussion or just listened to other students -- whatever they preferred. Philosophy club has asked if we could do this again, at least once this Spring, so that's why we're meeting this Friday.
RSVPs are appreciated, since we like to order pizza and RSVPs give us a way to estimate how much pizza we'll need. So if you might come let us know by emailing me.)

10 March
The superfunctionality claim. The representational theory of consciousness.

14 March
The midterm. Questions will be on themes including:
  • Basic ontological positions, including type identity theory, behaviorism, functionalism, and substance dualism.
  • What is Fodor's disjunction problem? What does it illustrate about the naive causal theory of representation?
  • What does the Chinese room thought experiment aim to illustrate about the relation of syntax and semantics?
  • The normative nature of representation. Theories of Dretske or Millikan or Dennett as explanations of normativity.
  • What is eliminative materialism? What reasons might there be to adopt eliminative materialism about some purported mental phenomena?
  • The Knowledge argument against physicalism about consciousness. What is it? Is it valid? Is it sound?
  • The zombie argument against physicalism about consciousness. What is it? Is it valid? Is it sound?

24 March
Review of exam (we might spread this out over two days, to break it up some). Then: the physicalist responses.

3. Emotion
28 March
Let's start our discussion of emotion with a classic paper by Williams James. Read at least the first 12 pages -- it's a quick read. Bring the paper to class so we can look at it together. It's on JSTOR, "What is an Emotion?" (Mind, Vol. 9, No. 34 -- April 1884 -- pages 188-205). If you can read it all, of course, but we're only going to discuss the first 12 pages. It's really very straightfoward, I'm pleased to say. While reading, ask yourself the following possible quiz questions:
  • What is an emotion, according to James? Be careful: a sloppy reading leads people to say, an emotion is a body state. But what specifically does James say it is?
  • What arguments does he offer for his view? (E.g., on pages 193-194, and also on the first page.) Be ready to answer questions about these.
A resource: you may find it useful to sometimes look at the emotion entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy by Ronnie de Sousa. (Note that de Sousa uses the term "feeling theories" differently than I will in class -- I will use it for a mythical view attacked by some philosophers that emotions are "just feelings"; de Sousa uses it for the James view. The two are not the same because there is content involved in James theory -- the feelings are caused by a specific kind of perception and are appropriate to it.

31 March
Read Nash's Cognitive Theories of Emotion (Nous, Vol. 23, No. 4. (Sep., 1989), pp. 481-504). While reading, ask yourself the following possible quiz questions:
  • What is cognitivism about emotions?
  • Why doubt cognitivism? Why believe it?
  • What alternative to good old fashioned cognitivism does Nash offer?
  • Describe his thought experiment, why it seems a problem for cognitivism, and how he solves this.
(Another famous cognitivist paper, which we don't have time for but which you could read if you are interested, is Donald Davidson's Hume's Cognitive Theory of Pride. Citation: The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 73, No. 19, Seventy-Third Annual Meeting Eastern Division, American Philosophical Association. (Nov. 4, 1976), pp. 744-757.)

We'll also discuss the affect program theory.

2, 4 April
For a defense of the affect program theory, you can read the preprint of my book, available here. Not required reading.

Read Walton, Fearing Fictions. Citation: The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 75, No. 1. (Jan., 1978), pp. 5-27. While reading, ask yourself the following questions that are possible quiz questions:
  • What is Walton's thought experiment?
  • Why does apparently fearing a fiction make a problem for the cognitivist theory of emotion?
  • What is Walton's solution to this problem?

4. Personal identity (over time, at a moment)
7 April
Please read the section by Locke in Perry's Personal Identity, pages 33-52. You must identify:
  • Locke's theory of what makes one plant the same plant over time, what makes one animal the same animal over time, and what makes one human the same human over time.
  • Locke's definition of a person
  • Locke's explanation of what makes a person the same person over time.

9 April
Quest.

11 April
Read Hume selection, pages 161-176 in John Perry's Personal Identity.

A short homework! You should be able to do this in a page. What is Locke's definition of a person? Which aspect of Locke's definition does Hume reject? And: do you agree with Hume's claim? Try your own reflection upon your experience(s), as Hume does on page 162, and ask yourself if there is something you can identify other than your particular sense experiences.
14 April
Read Nagel's paper, "Brain Bisection and the Unity of Consciousness," which is collected in John Perry's Personal Identity.