PHL471: Philosophy of Mind
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: CC212A
Email: craig.delancey@oswego.edu




Past Assignments
25 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.
27 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.

Reading Practice 1. Answer the question on Blackboard, or if you prefer you can bring me a paper copy (but online is perhaps best). This is: What do you 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?

30 January
1. Read this brief selection from Lucretius.

2. Watch. We want to discuss the odds and ends of ontological views. This includes behaviorism, of two flavors. Here is a review (a little simplistic) via TED talk of classical conditioning. Here is a video of Skinner, an important behaviorist, on behaviorism. It's groovy. Here is another of interest.

If you want another source for studying, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has some relevant entries, such as this one: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/mind-identity/.

Here is a short Ontology Toolkit for your use. You can download it and print it out; it's just 2 pages.

1 February
I'll bring you an example from a paper by Rorty, "Mind Body Identity...."


3 February
Finishing our discussion of ontology.

There is a short online quiz for you due before midnight on BlackBoard, as practice for Monday. This is our first of our biweekly practice quizes, meant to give you some idea of your understanding of the material, before our primary quiz. Remember to check the syllabus to see how these are weighted.

Philosophy Club will meet in MCC 211. Free pizza!

Alas, I cannot have office hours this day. Sorry!

6 February
Hey, the practice quiz had some questions about neutral monism, which I did not have time to discuss in class. I'll just count the quiz as out of 8, as opposed to 10, points.

Quiz 0 in class: ontology concepts. You should be prepared to be able to apply any of the concepts in our concept list, but especialy the main ontological distinctions (dualism, reductive physicalism, functionalism, behaviorism). I'll give you some passages of philosophers describing some feature of mind, for example, and ask you to determine whether it is best interpreted as dualist, reductivist, behaviorist, etc. And I'll ask you to explain why.

For 15 minutes before we start, we will discuss our next topic, perception.
8 February
Read: chapter 1 of Noe's book Action in Perception.

10 February
Read: chapter 1 of Noe's book Action in Perception.

Internship: this looks like something that would be of interest to Philosophers.
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The application can be found HERE. It takes about 10 seconds to fill out.
A major part of our work is providing the resources and skills trainings students will need to make a difference on this issue and any other that they care about. More information about the campaign can be found here. [Sorry, no link in message sent to me.]
Please don't hesitate to reach out with any questions. If you are able to pass this along please let me know. Thanks in advance for your help.
This email was sent by Climate Reality Project, located at 1 Rockridge Place, Oakland, California, 94618 (USA). Our telephone number is (908)-477-3964.

15 February
Read sections 2.0 through 2.5 of Action in Perception (philosophy majors are encouraged to read the whole chapter).
Homework:Answer the following questions.
  1. What is experiential blindness? How does it differ from regular blindness?
  2. What is the basis of perception, according to Noe? (See page 8, for example)
  3. If you wear glasses with prisms in them, so that everything you see is inverted, what happens to your vision at first? What happens after you wear the glasses for a long while?

20 February
Read section 3.6 of Noe. Phil majors should read the whole chapter.

Take the online practice quiz before midnight!
22 February
Quick quiz in class on Perception and enactivism. We'll briefly introduce our next topic: consciousness.
24 February
Read paragraph 15 of chapter 32 of Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding. You can find it here.

We will also begin discussion of The Modal Argument.
27 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. Answer the following questions, either on Blackboard or on a page you bring to class:
  • 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?
1 March
We will review the Modal and Knowledge arguments.
3 March
Read the introduction and part 1 of the Chalmers selection: "The Two-Dimensional Argument". This introduces the Zombie argument.
6 March
Read: chapter 4 of Noe.
7 March
I'll be around and available in my office from 9 a.m. -- 1:00 pm.

Practice quiz available all day on BlackBoard.

Here David Chalmers gives a TED talk that discusses the question of consciousness. He reviews some key positions, so it's interesting and maybe even helpful to review. Does his account here support his dualism about consciousness?

You might find interesting another overview: here is a talk by the philosopher Susan Blackmore.

Just a reminder. I do not grade for attendance. If you want to surf the web, text your friends, or watch movies, do not come to class. I do not care if you wrongly think you can multitask (no one can multitask--the science is unequivocal on this; claiming you can multitask is as rational as claiming you can drive well when drunk). Such behavior is distracting to others and is disrespectful to me. If you feel you are paying me to be here, then let me put it this way: I am selling a classroom where we discuss philosophy together; I am not selling something to listen to while you surf the web.
8 March
Quiz on consciousness in class. Discussion of our next topic: emotion.
Some study topics. What is/are...
  • The different senses of "consciousness"?
  • Epiphenomenalism?
  • Qualia?
  • Physicalism (about consciousness)?
  • A phenomenal zombie?
  • The inverted spectrum thought experiment (first proposed by Locke).
  • The Knowledge Argument.
  • The zombie argument.
  • The superfuctionality claim.
10 March
Read: 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; but we're only going to discuss the first 12 pages. It's really very straightfoward, I'm pleased to say.

Reading assignment: answer the following questions. You can do this on BlackBoard or by handing a page in at the beginning of class.
  • 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.)
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.)
20 March
Read: For a defense of a version of the cognitivist theory, read this paper by Nash: Cognitive Theories of Emotion (Nous, Vol. 23, No. 4. (Sep., 1989), pp. 481-504).

In class, we should also discuss papers.

For your papers, please see my paper grading rubric and also see my philosophy paper format guide. They will tell you how to structure your paper, and also what we consider most important in philosophy.

I like the APA style for references (though we don't need that part of APA for different sections -- methods, results, etc.) There is a guide you can use for references here.

Here are some paper topics that students wrote on in the past:
  • 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?

22-24 March
I'll be out of town delivering a paper.

While I'm out of town, here is a reading and also a question.

Read Walton, Fearing Fictions. Citation: The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 75, No. 1. (Jan., 1978), pp. 5-27. Please write up your answer to the following reading questions (also on BlackBoard). These are more extensive than usual, and will count more than usual, because you have a few extra hours to work on them. I suggest that you consider meeting in class to discuss them.
    First, three overview questions about Walton:
  1. What is Walton's thought experiment?
  2. Why does apparently fearing a fiction make a problem for the cognitivist theory of emotion?
  3. What is Walton's solution to this problem?
    Second, a group of deeper ontological questions:
  4. Consider the cognitive theory of emotion. If you think carefully about the definition of an emotion in the theory, you'll see that it looks, at least at first glance, incapable to handling emoting for fiction. Is that so? Is the fact that we emote for fictions an insoluble problem for the cognitive theory? Could James's theory or the Affect Program Theory do better? And do you think that Walton's theory of emoting for fiction is a successful solution (that is, a successful way to save the cognitivist theory of emotion)? Does the fact that we emote for fictions give us reason to favor one of these theories of emotion over another?
Write up your answer, which may take a few pages, and bring it to class on the 27th to hand in at the beginning of class; else you can also hand it in using BlackBoard.
27 March
Review of theories of emotion. Discussion of the problem of emoting for fictions.

Homework on Walton due at the beginning of class.
29 March
Visit from actors of the Acting Company, in class. Think of some questions you would like to ask them about emotions and fiction, or emotions and acting.
30 March
Practice quiz available online.
31 March
Quiz on emotion.

Here are the concepts that we have reviewed:
  • Affect Program Theory of emotion (Here are a few chapters of my book, defending that theory.)
  • Basic emotions
  • Cognitivist theory of emotion
  • Jamesian theory of emotion
  • Problem of emoting for fictions
  • Emotion for oneself with respect to fictional stimuli
  • Emotion in empathy or sympathy with fictional characters and events
  • Social constructivism about emotions
Here are some review questions:
  1. What is the cognitivist theory of emotion?
  2. What is the Jamesian theory of emotion?
  3. What is the affect program theory of emotion?
  4. Why is emoting for fictions an apparent problem for the cognitivist theory?
Note: Philosophy Club meets Friday, March 31, 2017, from 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM, in Marano Campus Center Room 258 to watch and then discuss the film Ex Machina. There will be pizza!
3 April
For fun, you can watch: this video on split brain patients.

Read paragraphs 1-15 of chapter 27 (XXVII) of Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Answer the questions on blackboard. These questions are:
  1. According to Locke, what makes an oak tree the same oak tree throughout it's life?
  2. What makes a cat the same cat throughout its life?
  3. What makes a person the same person throughout her life?
  4. What is a person, according to Locke?
As you know, I usually have my office hours 1:40-3:00. But today there is a meeting 1:30-2:30 I need to attend. So, I'll have office hours from 2:30 to 4:30 to make up for that. I hope this is convenient for you.
5 April
Quest.
7 April
Read paragraphs 16-29 of chapter 27 (XXVII) of Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding.
10 April
I hereby forbid each and every one of you from ever using the phrase "is based on" ever again.

Please read this, this, and this by Michael Gazzaniga. They're short! No reading homework this day.
12 April
Read chapter 4 section 6 of David Hume's Treatise. There is a free online version here. Answer the questions on BlackBoard. These are:
  • What does Hume say the self is?
  • Do you agree with Hume's claim? Try your own reflection upon your experience(s), as Hume does, and ask yourself if there is something you can identify other than your particular sense experiences. What do you find?
14 April
No class. But this day and over the weekend there will be an online practice quiz. We won't have an in-class quiz on personal identity--BUT, I will put questions on the final about personal identity.
17 April
Read The Extended Mind by Clark and Chalmers. Answer the questions on BlackBoard:
  • 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?
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 partly outside the head. This is a different theory than Clark and Chalmers are proposing (C&C are arguing instead that thinking and beliefs can extend outside the head); for this reason, C&C spend some of the paper explaining how their view is different than the semantic externalism.
19 April
Criticisms of Clark and Chalmers on externalism: read Adams and Aizawa, parts 1 and 2. While reading, ask yourself:
  • What is their task in this paper?
  • What are their two "marks of the cognitive"?
  • What is non-derived content?
21 April
Criticisms of Clark and Chalmers on externalism: read Adams and Aizawa, parts 3, 4, and 5. 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"?
24 April
In class we will discuss externalism some more. We may make time to discuss conscious free will.

With BlackBoard, you can take the online practice quiz on externalism.
25 April
I'll have special hours today from 1 to 3:30, to help you with anything Philosophy of Mind oriented.
26 April
In class quiz on externalism There may also be some questions about personal identity. Here are some things to think about:
  • Active externalism
  • The Parity Principle
  • Derived content
  • The C+C thought experiments (Tetris, Otto, Inga)
Before the quiz, discussion of our next (and last) topic: conscious free will.

Before class 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. Or, here.

Homework: Before class, answer the questions on Blackboard.