PHL471: Philosophy of Mind
Professor: Craig DeLancey
From Aristotle's De Anima, please look at Book II part
1 (this is very short); an online version is this one at
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
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
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.
is a video of Skinner, an important behaviorist, on behaviorism.
If you want another source for studying, the Stanford Encyclopedia
of Philosophy has some relevant entries, such as this one:
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.
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
I've posted my slides here.
For 15 minutes before we start, we will discuss our next topic,
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:
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).
- Quizzes: 35%
- Term paper: 20%
- Practice assignments: 20%
- Practice quizes (online quizzes): 10%
- Final exam: 10%
- Review of other student's paper: 5%
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".
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
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
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.
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.
- What is experiential blindness? How does it differ from
- What is the basis of perception, according to Noe? (See
page 8, for example)
- 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
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?
Online practice quiz 1. Perception and Enactivism.
Here are some of the concepts we've discussed, and which you
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!
- Blind spot (in human visual field)
- Change blindness
- Classical representational theory
- Experiential blindness
- Hemi-spatial neglect
- Kohler glasses (inverting glasses)
- McGurk effect
- Mental rotation (Shepard and Metzler 1971)
Quiz 1. Perception and Enactivism.
Our class notes are here.
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
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.)
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.
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?
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),
- 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.)
Online practice quiz will be available online this day only!
In class, we can discuss what abnormal cases might reveal about
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!
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?
Brief review of paper expectations. Then:
Together we will study the modal argument.
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
Read the Chalmers selection:
"The Two-Dimensional Argument".
You are only required to read part 1 of the paper.
The superfunctionality claim.
The representational theory of consciousness.
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.
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.
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):
Another source for the reading is http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/761,
scroll down and click on the chapter XXVII link. Or:
- 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!)
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?
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.
Please read "Brain Bisection and the Unity of Consciousness"
in the Perry book; or, you can get a copy online just for
Here are some valuable optional readings:
Please read this,
this by Michael Gazzaniga.
They're short! No reading homework this day.
Online practice quiz on personal identity this day only on BlackBoard.
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
We should aim for papers about 8 pages long, but first drafts
can be a little shorter. Here are some paper topics 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.
- 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
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:
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
- 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.)
Quest! Come to the Existentialism Session and get a
free dose of despair!
Your evaluation of the paper you received will be due this
day. I will evaluate your evaluation before returning it to its
Criticisms of Clark and Chalmers on externalism:
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,
- What do they mean by "intercranial" and "transcranial"?
Online practice quiz on externalism this day only on BlackBoard.
Quiz on externalism
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!
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:
- Describe the Soon et al experiment. How do they operationalize (test for)
the timing of conscious awareness?
- 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?
Read: this paper by Wegner. Answer the following questions.
- 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
- What are: priority, consistency, and exclusivity? How
do they determine if we consider an action consciously