PHL471: Philosophy of Mind
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Past Assignments31 AugustComplete and bring to class the survey of interest.7 SeptemberHere's what we learned from the survey: the averaging of the interest of people basically asked us to dedicate 2 weeks to each topic, with the exception of dedicating 3 weeks to consciousness and only 1 week to externalism. I'll try to follow that. One problem is that I didn't realize that the semester is a bit short this Fall, so I may compress a bit.From Aristotle's De Anima, please look at Book II part 1 (this is very short); an online version is this one at MIT.
I heard from 20 of the 25 of you. One of the students has never been to class, and I'm assuming is never going to show, but that leaves 4 who expressed no preference. They're floaters now: I'll slot them in wherever we need someone to lead. For the rest of us, I gave everyone either their first or second choice of topics. I'll keep, and keep updating, a tentative list in the tentative assignments section.Reading and an assignment.
Read -- or, I hope, review -- Descartes's Meditations 6. (If you've not read the Meditations, try to take the time to read them all, in order.) 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 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.
9 SeptemberRead the handout of the passage from Lucretius. Bring this to class. While reading, ask yourself:
- What is Lucretius trying to explain?
- Why is this phenomenon a problem for his atomism?
- What is Lucretius's solution to his problem? That is how does he explain the phenomenon?
12 and 14 SeptemberReading. 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 if you want.
While reading, ask yourself:
I might give you a brief opportunity at the beginning of class to write answers to these questions.
- 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?
- Jstor. For off-campus logins, the link to the Jstor database via Penfield is: here.
- About leading. When you are asked to lead a reading, I will usually set up the context, and then let you spend 5-10 minutes introducing:
Some of the readings don't present theories but rather problems or clarifications. Then you can help us see, why is this problem or clarification important?
- What is the main point or thesis?
- How is it defended? If in an argument, what is the argument? If in several, what are they?
- What are some objections or worries about the thesis that will need to be answered if we are going to accept it?
You can use an overhead or any other visual things you like. Then you can sit down but be act as our main resource in discussing the topic.
If you miss your time slot and haven't forewarned me or lost a limb, we'll have to skip you and move on. We've too much to cover in this class to back up.
- A reminder about readings. For about 1/3 of the required readings there will be a homework, and for about 1/3 a quiz in class.In addition to continuing with Churchland, We'll review ontology, and discuss some of the options we'll see during the semester as we look at different theories. These include behaviorism and functionalism. This will end our discussion of the basics of ontology.
Recommended reading. Please read chapter 1 of Churchland's Matter and Consciousness, pages 1-49. This is a kind of survey textbook, so it's a quick read.
Here is the file with the tree of ontological options.
21 SeptemberFodor handout. Read the handout and bring it to class. The context will be Fodor criticize a certain (common-sensical, if not naive) view of representation. We can peek at Dretske (the handout from the Precis of Knowledge and the Flow of Information) as having a view maybe like the naive view. While reading, ask yourself:23 September
Lead: Chris Winker.
- What is the problem that Fodor is presenting?
- Why is this problem special to representation?
- How might we solve or explain away this problem?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)?
Lead: Charles Hickey.
Recommended: read chapter 3 (pages 51-66) of Paul Churchland's Matter and Consciousness. This is concerned with the representation of mental states, and not representation per se, but it is of interest to our discussion.
26 SeptemberRead Ruth Millikan's "Biosemantics" (Journal of Philosophy Vol. 86, No. 6 (Jun., 1989), pp. 281-297). You can skip section 5, and skim section 1 if it seems unclear. While reading, ask yourself the following possible quiz questions:3 October
Bring your copy to class, if you have a hard copy or other transportable copy.
- What is the difference between consumption and production of a representation?
- What does the magnetosome example show?
Lead: Mark WilsonReading and a homework.7 October
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:
Lead: Sean Mott.
- 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?
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?
We'll have a brief quiz for practice, before discussing a classic paper by William James. I'll treat the quiz as being homework 3.8 October
For the quiz, be able to describe what it would mean to be an interactive substance dualist, behaviorist, functionalist, or eliminativist about some mental event of kind M.
The philosopher Gary Varner, who does research on environmental ethics, will give our annual public philosophy lecture this year. You are invited to come if you like. It will be from 2:15 till 3:30 in Sheldon Hall Room 222. He will speak on "Personhood, Ethics, and Animal Cognition." It will be a talk accessible and of interest to anyone who wants to think about whether any non-human animals can be "persons." Cool stuff! This will also be very relevant to the work we do later on personal identity.10, 12 OctoberReview of ontology. Then:
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. 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:
Lead: Jamie Colvin
- 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.
14 OctoberRead 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:17 October
Lead: Justin Crandal
- 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.)Affect program theory. Lead: Mark Lienkewicz.19, 21 OctoberRead 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:24 October
Lead: Justin Pytlak
- 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?Exam on ontology, representation, and emotion. Basic format will be recognizing and explaining passages from our readings, placing them in the context of our ontological explorations. Topics include:26 October
- The normative nature of representation.
- Theories of representation, such as Dretske or Millikan or Dennett's theories.
- Basic ontological positions, including eliminative materialism and substance dualism.
- The theories of emotion that we have seen, and the challenges for each -- such as, for example, emotions had for fictions.Final thoughts on emotion and fiction. Opening discussion of the definition of "consciousness." Phenomenal experience versus subjective consciousness.
28 OctoberReview of exam 1. Discussion of learning. Before class, please watch all five of the videos here. They are short and they can do you a ton of good.31 October
Locke and inverted spectra.
Please read Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Book 2, Chapter 32 (XXXII), paragraph 15. This is an early inverted spectrum case. There's an online version here.
Lead: Matt WiltsieHomework. Here's a simple homework to get us synthesizing and applying the things we've discussed. Suppose that Joan's boss yells at her for a mistake that is in fact his fault. Joan turns red, goes outside with balled fists, and kicks a tree. (Don't argue with the tought experiment: assume this is what happens.) Most of us would be inclined to say, Joan kicked the tree because she was angry. How (if at all) could a cognitivist about emotion explain this behavior? How (if at all) could a Jamesian about emotion explain this behavior? How (if at all) could an affect program theorist about emotion explain this behavior? Write no more than (the equivalent of) 2 typed pages in answer. Try to be very clear and pithy.2 November
Read. 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:7 November
Lead: Harris Gold, looking at sections I, II, III.
- 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?
Jackson and epiphenomenalism. Lead: Mario Gorea, looking at section IV.Kripke selection. Lead: Michael Reid.9 NovemberChalmers selection: "The Two-Dimensional Argument".14 November
You are only required to read part 1 of the paper. Lead: Trevor Smith.Please read the first half of the section by Locke in Perry's Personal Identity, pages 33-40.14, 16 November
Lead: Suzanne Campbell.Please read the second half of the section by Locke in Perry's Personal Identity, pages 40-52.16 November
Lead: Chris DeReeder.Read Hume selection, pages 161-176 in John Perry's Personal Identity.18 November
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. Lead: Andrew McWatt.Read Nagel's paper, "Brain Bisection and the Unity of Consciousness," which is collected in John Perry's Personal Identity. Lead: Anthony Ferrentino.21 NovemberContinuing with Nagel's paper, "Brain Bisection and the Unity of Consciousness," which is collected in John Perry's Personal Identity. Reviewing his separation of cases argument.28 November
Preparation for externalism. Setting aside semantic externalism. Tetris!Before reading, play tetris. There's a free version here. After playing a while, notice how you move the figures in order to determine if they are going to fit.30 November
Read Clark and Chalmers on externalism. Read "The Extended Mind".
While reading, ask yourself:
The stuff about semantic externalism (where they mention Putnum, Burge, water, twin Earth, and xyz) is probably confusing to you. Don't worry about it. Putnum and Burge have a theory that the meaning of words can be outside the head. This is a different theory than Clark and Chalmers are proposing (C&C are arguing instead that thinking and beliefs can be outside the head); for this reason, C&C spend some of the paper explaining how their view is different than the semantic externalism.
- What is "active externalism"?
- What thought experiments do they offer to illustrate this? There is one for activity (tetris), and one for belief (Otto). Can you describe what they are meant to show?
- What are the four criteria they offer for extended belief?
- What necessary criteria of externalism do they propose?
Discussion lead: Chanel Smith.
Criticisms of Clark and Chalmers on externalism: read Adams and Aizawa, parts 1 and 2. While reading, ask yourself:2 December
- What is their task in this paper?
- What are their two "marks of the cognitive"?
- What is non-derived content?
Lead: Rosa Rivera.
While reading, ask yourself:Criticisms of Clark and Chalmers on externalism: read Adams and Aizawa, parts 3, 4, and 5.5 December
Lead: Alex Kerr.
While reading, ask yourself:
- What are their primary criticisms of Clark and Chalmers? What do they claim the Tetris case 2, and Otto's notebook, lack?
- What do they mean by "intercranial" and "transcranial"?
Sorry, friends, but I have a conflict on Friday afternoon and won't be able to have my normal afternoon office hours. I'll have extra office hours during final's week to make up for it.Free will. Overview of the metaphysical problem. Lead: William Carnal.5,7 DecemberYou can give me a drafts of a final paper anytime before December 6 and I'll read it and offer advice. I may be able to read drafts after the 5th, but only if I get just a few. Ask me if you're in doubt. Two bits of advice: (1) cite correctly in your drafts. It's hard to fix citations later, so don't make yourself do it. Also: I will be very upset if someone says I endorsed their plagiarism by reading their draft and not fixing their citations in the draft. (2) It's better to write less with no filler than to write more with filler. Papers are due after the final exam. For final papers, I suggest you pick a topic that we have discussed that is of special interest to you, and write 8 or more pages typed, double-spaced, 1 inch margins, courier 12 point font, on the topic. See my philosophy paper format for guidelines. You are also encouraged to come up with a topic of your own; but check with me first. For each paper, I recommend that you at least once log in to the Philosopher's Index, search for papers on your topic, and find a recent one that is of interest. Read that paper, and respond or at least reference it in your own paper. There's a handy link on the philosophy subject guide (the EBSCO host box) here. Some examples of paper topics might include:7 December
- 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?Free will.
Read "Unconscious determinants of free decisions in the human brain," Chun Siong Soon; Brass,Marcel; Heinze, Hans-Jochen; Haynes, John-Dylan. Nature Neuroscience, May2008, Vol. 11 Issue 5, p543-545. DOI: 10.1038/nn.2112
This is available to us through the Academic Search Complete service on the Penfield web site, but I've not figured out how to link to it yet. So, go here, click on the "Academic Search Complete" link, and search for the title above.
Lead: Andrew Syrell.