\ Craig DeLancey: PHL471 past assignments

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

Past Assignments
Ontology and the basic ontological positions. (Ontology Boot Camp)

28 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.

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?

6 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.

9 February
Answer the question on Angel before class. You can access your Angel account here.
11 February
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.

Answer the questions on Angel about the reading.
16 February
Read sections 2.0 to 2.5 of Action in Perception (philosophy majors are encouraged to read the whole chapter). Answer the questions on Angel about the reading.
18 February
Read section 3.6 of Noe. Phil majors should read the whole chapter.
19 February
Joe asked for another example of the representational theory. One example is Marr and Nishihara's 1978 paper "Representation and Recognition of Spatial Organization of Three-Dimensional Shapes".

Here also are the last slides from class.
20 February
Homework due. In a few typed pages, do the following.

Find your own example of a sense illusion, or otherwise of an unusual feature of some sense perception. (Stick to illusions that work for statistically normal people; that is, let's not consider phenomena that are results of brain damage, or very unusual phenomena like synthesia.) Describe how the view of senses as passions could possibly explain the phenomenon. Describe how the view of senses given in enactivism could possibly explain the phenomenon. In your judgement, does either theory do a better job? Why?

I used the following grading rubric:
A: 4 -- illusion (this is a freebie)
B: 4 -- writing, grammar
C: 4 -- explanation of the passive view
D: 4 -- explanation of enactivism
E: 4 -- defense of one view

If you can, and if this is relevant, include a picture or link or other kind of documentation that would allow the reader of your brief paper to find and experience the illusion or phenomenon in question.

Due at the beginning of class.

Look at this paper for an example of what I consider to be an excellent homework.

In class, we will also start our discussion of consciousness, in part because we'll discuss this homework on Monday the 23rd, so we'll be using that time to discuss perception and want to get the time back for consciousness.

23 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 2 sections where he describes his two thought experiments (that is, focus on the introduction and part I). Answer the study questions on Angel.

If you are logging into Jstor from off campus, you'll need to first log into Jstor through our library pages, here. Then you'll need to search for the article by name.

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

2 March
Read the selection on the Superfunctionality claim, and the selections on the explanatory gap. These will be handed out in class.

I have made the Angel questions for the last set available for another day, but I won't keep doing that!

4 March
Read sections 4.0-4.4 of chapter 4 of Noe. Answer the question on Angel. (I posted the Angel question a little late, so it will remain up till the end of day Friday.)

Michael brought to my attention the following interesting case, which is similar to the first thought experiment that Jackson proposes: the case of tetrachromatics, people who can see additional colors, or at least differentiate additional shades. (I'll never complain about Pinterest viewing again.) A very interesting article.

In class, we will consider some objections to the four canonical anti-physicalist arguments.

This day only, I cannot have my office hours from 2-3. Please email me if you need to talk with me and we'll find time.

By the way, here are our argument summary overheads.

6 March
Homework due (although, because I had to cancel my office hours on Wednesday, I will accept these as late as Monday March 9 without penalty). In a few typed pages, do the following.

Consider one of the four paradigmatic arguments that consciousness is not a physical phenomenon. Describe and the argument and reconstruct it as a clear set of premises and conclusion. (You can cite a reconstructed argument we used in class; that is, you are not required to be original in your reconstruction of the argument. Rather, you are using an argument to clarify your objection or support.) If you have your own objection to the argument, share that. In your evaluation, lay out the argument as premises and a conclusion, and then tell us which premise you are criticizing. Else, if you agree with the argument, consider and overcome another objection. In such a case, in your evaluation, tell us which premise is attacked by the objection you consider and overcome.

If you are looking for a critical challenge to any of the arguments, consider Noe's criticism, or one of the ones that we discuss on the 4th. You can also look at the following summaries from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy for sources: Look at this paper for an example of what I consider to be an excellent homework. for the last problem.

For grading, I used the following rubric:
A: grammar and clarity of writing (5 points)
B: summary of the argument you were evaluating (5 points)
C: philosophical clarity and accuracy of the argument for/against the argument (10 points)
9 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; but we're only going to discuss the first 12 pages. It's really very straightfoward, I'm pleased to say. Answer the questions on Angel about the reading.

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.
13 March
Read Nash's Cognitive Theories of Emotion (Nous, Vol. 23, No. 4. (Sep., 1989), pp. 481-504). Answer the questions on Angel, which will be available till class on Friday. (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.
23 March
Read Walton, Fearing Fictions. Citation: The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 75, No. 1. (Jan., 1978), pp. 5-27. Answer the questions on Angel. (Remember, the questions on Angel are meant to guide you in your reading; therefore, they become unavailable after the class in which the reading is due.)

For a defense of the affect program theory, you can read the preprint of my book, available here. Not required reading.
25 March
Midterm exam in class. Covers:
  • ontology basics (interactive substance dualism, epiphenomenalism, reductionism, physicalism, eliminativism)
  • perception (enactivist vs snapshot/passive theories)
  • consciousness (four canonical anti-physicalist arguments
  • theories of emotion (cognitive, jamesian, affect program theory)
Slides used in class are availabe in the relevant time in the past assignments site.

For your interest: Sam found us this Ted Talk. It's relevant because if the enactivists are right, it should be possible to create new senses (by creating new ways to get information about the world with a consistent relation to motor control and motor expectations). So this is perhaps consistent with enactivism.
27 March
If my heroic efforts allow, we can review the midterm. But if so or if not, we can continue with considering possible answers to Walton and the problem of emoting for fictions.

Also: I'm considering having the following option. You could write a final paper or you could take a final exam (each individual would choose). The final paper would be an expansion of one of our homeworks, or something of your choosing. Aim for 10 pages. The final would be like the midterm. Come to class with an opinion on whether you prefer this or having both.
30 March
Homework due. In a few typed pages, do the following.

Are the apparent-emotions we experience in relation to fictions real emotions? If not, what are they? If so, what theory of emotions best explains both these apparent emotions for fictions and our other emotions?

(By "apparent emotions" I mean, events that appear to be emotions and which may or may not be emotions, depending on your view about these things.)

I used the following rubric.
A: grammar and clarity of writing (5 points)
B: philosophical clarity and accuracy of the argument for/against the argument (15 points)
1 April
Read paragraphs 1-15 of chapter 27 (XXVII) of Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Answer the questions on Angel. 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?
6 April
Read paragraphs 16-29 of chapter 27 (XXVII) of Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding.
8 April
Please read this, this, and this by Michael Gazzaniga. They're short! No reading homework this day.
10 April
Read chapter 4 section 6 of David Hume's Treatise. There is a free online version here. Answer the questions on Angel. 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?
13 April
I'll be in Virginia. Work on your homework on personal identity (see 15 April).
15 April
Quest. But since you had monday to work on your homeworks, drop your homework sometime before the end of the day at the philosophy office.

Homework on personal identity. Consider a split brain patient. How many people is that person? One? Two? One normally but two under special conditions? Or should we like Hume suppose that there is no specific number of people in the person? For Locke, conscious self awareness constitutes a person--but how can we tell how many conscious self-awarenesses there are in a split brain patient? And is Locke's criterion the best one in this case? What is your criterion for self that you use to answer the question? Cite at least one example of (seemingly) unusual behavior as described by Gazzaniga and explain it (that is, say how it fits your answer).
17 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 Angel. 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?
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.
20 April
Criticisms of Clark and Chalmers on externalism: read Adams and Aizawa, parts 1 and 2. Answer the questions on Angel. These questions are:
  • What is their task in this paper?
  • What are their two "marks of the cognitive"?
  • What is non-derived content?
22 April
Criticisms of Clark and Chalmers on externalism: read Adams and Aizawa, parts 3, 4, and 5. Answer the questions on Angel. These are:
  • 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
Read chapter 7 of Noe's Action in Perception. There is a lot of philosophy here, so if you have limited time it is enough to focus on sections 7.1 through 7.4 Answer the questions on Angel, which are:
  1. Noe is arguing for the possibility of a different kind of active externalism. What mental event or capability is he proposing might extend beyond the body?
  2. This is a question requiring some thought: why does it matter to their theory that any experience is "structured; it too has hidden facets or aspects" (217)?
27 April
Homework on externalism is due. Can any kind of mental event or state extend beyond the skull? If so, which mental state or event? Defend your view, perhaps using the parity principle. Consider an objection from Adams and Aizawa. If you deny that externalism is possible, address several of the Clark and Chalmers arguments.

Rubric: A: grammar, clarity of writing. 5 points.
B: argument. 10 points.
C: proper description of C and C and A and A's positions. 5 points.

Here is an example of a very thoughtful student paper on this question.
27 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

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.

Answer the question on Angel, which is: 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?
1 May
Discussion of this paper by Wegner. Answer the questions on Angel, which are:
  • 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?
  • What are: priority, consistency, and exclusivity? How do they determine if we consider an action consciously willed?
4 May
Continuing our discussion of Wegner's paper. We'll focus on his criteria of priority, consistency, and exclusivity.
6 May
Read this article by Brembs. Optional: to replace an earlier missed reading assignment, or for general edification, answer the questions on Angel, which are:
  1. What does Brembs mean by, "Predictability can never be an evolutionarily stable strategy. Instead, animals need to balance the effectiveness and efficiency of their behaviours with just enough variability to spare them from being predictable." Look at the example of the cockroach.
  2. What is the "two stage" model of freedom? (Section 8)
  3. What is Bramberg's theory of free will? That is, for him, what will it mean to say some particular human is free?
You should know a few things: an "evolutionary stable strategy" is a behavioral strategy that can persist in a population because it provides some benefit relative to the alternatives; an "ultimate explanation" is an explanation that is in terms of the why the trait is inherited (describing its evolutionary benefit); a "proximal explanation" is an explanation of the implementation details (the specific current structures) that explain a trait; "Sensitivity to initial conditions" is also called "chaos," when a system has a structure such that very small changes in it can result over time in vary large variations of behavior.