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




Past Assignments
27 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.
30 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 0. Answer the question on Blackboard. (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?

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

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/.

3 February
I've posted and emailed to you a paper by Rorty, "Mind Body Identity...." Please read it.

Also: there is a short online quiz for you due before midnight on BlackBoard, as practice for Friday. 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.

5 February
Quiz 0: 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.

I've posted my slides here.

For 15 minutes before we start, we will discuss our next topic, perception.

8 February
Before class read sections 1.1 through 1.4 (pages 1-17) of Action in Perception. You might want to read all of the chapter, especially if you are a philosophy major, but that's not required.

Two notes of interest.

1. I received some questions about grading. Remember to check the syllabus to determine that the weighting will be:
  • Quizzes: 35%
  • Term paper: 20%
  • Practice assignments: 20%
  • Practice quizes (online quizzes): 10%
  • Final exam: 10%
  • Review of other student's paper: 5%
So in Blackboard I used the default point count, being a BB novice, but that's not proportional! Our practice quiz was out of 90 points, the actual in class quiz was out of 30 points, but that actual quiz will count 3.5 times as much as that practice quiz. Write me at any time if you want an approximate grade for the course as a whole (though now is a bit early to do so).

2. Here are some comments about quiz 0.
I.1. This quote is from the famous behaviorist B. F. Skinner. He was arguing that even his opponents resort to behaviorism when pressed for explanations. Note that he says the mental kinds proposed are "fictions".

I.2. This quote is from a scholarly article on functionalism. It was meant to illustrate the idea of functionalism. Note that it refers to internal events or states other than conditioning, a strong sign that this is not a behaviorist account. And it describes those events or states in terms of their inter-relations, along with the relevant input-output relations. The scholar is also a physicalist, though this is not explicitly stated in this passage.

I.3. This quote was from a scholarly article defending physicalist reductionism. (Be careful to understand the difference between reduction and eliminativism. If I reduce pain as part of a physicalist reductionist theory, then I claims that pain exists and it turns out to be a physical event or state. If I eliminate pain, I say, there is no such thing as pain. So, the reductivist is not denying the mind exists, or ignoring the mind -- several people wrote such things. The reductionist about mental event kind M claims that M exists and is a physical phenomenon. (There is some confusing overlap between reductionism and eliminativism, which is what Rorty was trying to describe in that paper we read; but we can mostly ignore that through some simplification.))

II.1. Note that eliminativism is about supposed beings; what I sometimes call "ontological posits" (things we suppose exist; and we include, in our theory, claims that they exist). So we need to distinguish that something is eliminated (a supposed kind of thing proposed in some theory) from theory change; no doubt these are related (often changes in theory eliminate something) but the meaning of "eliminativism" is the elimination of a kind of things from our theories. "Eliminativism" is not just theory change; it is a specific feature of some kinds of theory change.
The scores ranged from 5 to 26, with a mean of 21.5. Consider anything over 19 respectably goodish. Please note: people who did the online practice quiz did 5 points better on average on the in-class quiz than did those who skipped the practice quiz.

10 February
Read sections 2.0 through too 2.5 of Action in Perception (philosophy majors are encouraged to read the whole chapter).
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?

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

This video is relevant and made be of interest to you: Can we create new senses?

17 February
Online practice quiz 1. Perception and Enactivism.

Here are some of the concepts we've discussed, and which you should know:
  • Blind spot (in human visual field)
  • Change blindness
  • Classical representational theory
  • Enactivism
  • Experiential blindness
  • Hemi-spatial neglect
  • Intentionality
  • Kohler glasses (inverting glasses)
  • McGurk effect
  • Mental rotation (Shepard and Metzler 1971)
  • Representation
  • Saccades
Connor sent this video which is interesting because it includes much that we've been discussing. Jonah found this video of a kind of semantic effect on hearing. It'll freak you out!

19 February
Quiz 1. Perception and Enactivism.

Our class notes are here.

22 February
Reading. 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.

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.

Either on BlackBoard, or on paper, answer the following questions:
  • What is an emotion, according to James?
  • What arguments does he offer for his view? (E.g., on pages 193-194, and also on the first page.)

24 February
I'm going to bring you a handout on the cognitivist theory. We'll introduce and compare it with the Jamesian Theory. If we have time, we'll introduce the affect program theory.

26 February
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):
  • 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?

29 February
We'll continue our discussion of the problem of emoting for fictions. In class, we'll discuss the affect program theory, and then test our three theories against Walton's problem.

Here are some optional readings:
  • For a defense of a version of the cognitivist theory, an interesting paper is Nash's Cognitive Theories of Emotion (Nous, Vol. 23, No. 4. (Sep., 1989), pp. 481-504).
  • For a defense of the affect program theory, you can read the preprint of my book, available here.
  • 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.)

2 March
Online practice quiz will be available online this day only! In class, we can discuss what abnormal cases might reveal about emotions.
4 March
We'll introduce the question of consciousness, and then have our 30-minute in class quiz. The questions will merely ask you to describe and distinguish the different emotion theories we saw, and apply the theories to test cases or describe how we could corroborate or disprove each theory.

You're 3/7ths done with the course!
7 March
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. Either in BlackBoard, or on paper to bring to class, answer the following questions:
  • What does Jackson aim to show?
  • What is the Mary thought experiment? (This is very famous now, and together with its interpretation it is called The Knowledge Argument.)
  • 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?
9 March
Brief review of paper expectations. Then:

Together we will study the modal argument.
11 March
Brief review of paper format, rubric, citations. BTW: 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.

Before class:

Read the Chalmers selection: "The Two-Dimensional Argument".
You are only required to read part 1 of the paper.
14 March
The superfunctionality claim.
The representational theory of consciousness.
16 March
For class, read sections 4.0-4.4 of chapter 4 of Noe.

Online practice quiz on consciousness this day only on BlackBoard. I'll have it start after class, since we may discuss some of the material during class.
18 March
Introduction of our next topic, Personal Identity. In class quiz on consciousness.

As soon as I'm done grading the quiz, I will send you a midterm grade, so that you know where you stand.
21-25 March
Winter break.
28 March
Please read the first half of the section by Locke in Perry's Personal Identity, pages 33-52. This is chapter 27 of John Locke's book Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Here are reading questions (I'll post these to BlackBoard asap):
  • What are: 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?
  • What is Locke's definition of a person?
  • What is Locke's explanation of what makes a person the same person over time? (That's different than the answer to the last question--know both!)
Another source for the reading is http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/761, scroll down and click on the chapter XXVII link. Or: https://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/locke/john/l81u/B2.27.html.
30 March
Read Hume selection, pages 161-176 in John Perry's Personal Identity. This selection is from section 2 of Part IV of Hume's Treatise of Human Nature. Online versions include the latter half of SECTION II.: Of scepticism with regard to the senses .
Here is a question I'd like you to consider; it's an easy homework because half of it asks you to look at your own experience.
  • 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?
1 April
We'll review Hume and then we have to discuss brain structure to prepare for our next reading. We can also discuss progress on our papers; I'll point out to you some resources you can use.
4 April
Please read "Brain Bisection and the Unity of Consciousness" in the Perry book; or, you can get a copy online just for you here.

Here are some valuable optional readings:
Please read this, this, and this by Michael Gazzaniga. They're short! No reading homework this day.
6 April
Online practice quiz on personal identity this day only on BlackBoard.
8 April
Quiz on personal identity.

First drafts of papers due. Email me the title of your paper before class -- AND bring a copy of the paper without your name on the paper (just with the paper title on the paper. This will be used for the blind peer review.)

My paper guidelines are at: http://www.oswego.edu/~delancey/PhilPaperFormat.html, and my grading rubric is at http://www.oswego.edu/~delancey/PhilPaperBasicRubric.html.

We should aim for papers about 8 pages long, but first drafts can be a little shorter. Here are some paper topics to generate ideas:

Note: I try to write extensive notes for each paper. But, if your paper comes in late, I will give it few if any notes in my review. I will also not promise to get it back to your quickly. (This is my paper for all late homeworks: I sometimes take them, but I make no promises that I will grade and return them quickly; I might grade them during finals week.)
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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?
11 April
Before reading, play tetris. There's a free version here and in other places. After playing a while, notice how you move the figures in order to determine if they are going to fit.

Read Clark and Chalmers on externalism. Read "The Extended Mind".

Answer the questions on BlackBoard or answer them on paper. These are:
  • 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? (This is sometimes call the "parity principle", and is their criterion at the end of section II.)
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 and C are arguing instead that thinking and beliefs can be outside the head). C and C are merely making the point that their view is different than the semantic externalism.
13 April
Quest! Come to the Existentialism Session and get a free dose of despair!
15 April
Your evaluation of the paper you received will be due this day. I will evaluate your evaluation before returning it to its owner!

Criticisms of Clark and Chalmers on externalism: read Adams and Aizawa. Answer the Jason quiz questions on BlackBoard or hand them in on paper. These questions are:
  • What is their task in this paper?
  • What are their two "marks of the cognitive"?
  • What is non-derived content?
  • 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"?
20 April
Online practice quiz on externalism this day only on BlackBoard.

22 April
Quiz on externalism
25-29 April
I will be in Arizona at the big Consciousness Conference. However! We will still have class online--we'll log into blackboard, I'll record a lecture, and we can discuss in a usergroup. So don't plan to use our class hour for anything else! We'll have a Jason quiz every day!
25 April
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.

Answer the questions on Blackboard. Or email to me:
  1. Describe the Soon et al experiment. How do they operationalize (test for) the timing of conscious awareness?
  2. When Soon et al conclude, "This suggests that when the subject’s decision reached awareness it had been influenced by unconscious brain activity for up to 10 s" (545). How might this challenge one view of free will? What view of free will is at stake?
27 April
Read: this paper by Wegner. Answer the following questions.
  1. What does Wegner mean by "the mind's best trick"? How could it be a trick? What could be the real causal chain for our sense that our conscious thoughts cause our actions?
  2. What are: priority, consistency, and exclusivity? How do they determine if we consider an action consciously willed?
29 April
Read The Point of No Return in Vetoing Self-Initiated Movements
4 May
Online practice quiz on conscious free will this day only on BlackBoard. Here are my notes on the externalism quiz.
6 May
Quiz on conscious free will.

Please complete today the online evaluation of my professoring. You should have received a link in email. I don't see your evaluations until after final grades are turned in.
9 May
I will have office hours 1:30 - 4:00 pm.