PHL471: Philosophy of Mind
Time: MWF 12:40-1:35
Final Exam: TBA
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: Campus Center 212A
Office Hours: MF 1:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
In this class you will learn about the current debates in the
philosophy of mind concerning the nature of the mind. The Philosophy
of Mind is a living and very active tradition, and you will learn to
engage with it and participate in it. This means you will in part be
reading material very recently published, and struggling with
questions that are only just being addressed -- or, at least, we will
struggle with them in their most current form -- and forming your own
views and insights.
We will approach the class by asking, and attempting to answer or at
least clarify, essential questions about the mind. In this
way, we wll review the major ontological positions in the ontology of
mind. Each of our questions will fall into one of these major themes:
That last topic is one usually treated outside the philosophy of mind,
but we'll look at it primarily from the perspective of what must be
true about the mind if we are free or not free.
- basics of ontology
- phenomenal experience ("consciousness")
- self and personhood
- free will
We must cover the basics of ontology, and they will constitute most of
your mid-term exam. But for these other topics, we will decide as a
class how much time we are willing to dedicate to them, and also who would
like to lead some discussions on these topics.
Most of our readings will be available online, through e-reserves or through
There are two texts:
John Perry, Personal Identity.
Most of our readings, however, will be online. One huge advantage of
doing the class this way is that we can change the class as we go.
Since most of our readings are on line, we can drop some and add
others without cost, and will surely do so as we discover what we find
easy, what difficult, what interesting, and what uninteresting.
Paul Churchland Matter and Consciousness.
Bring the readings to class on those days when we are reading
and discussing them.
If you are like this young man (or,
worse, like his parents), please do not take this course. We must
read important works in the philosophy of mind and discuss them. If
you won't read, you waste your time and the time of your classmates.
I can promise you that we will only read papers that are relevant to
our topic and which are important to the field.
Assignments and exams
Your opportunity to assess your progress will be in the form of
periodic assignments, one opportunity to lead class discussion on
a reading, two tests, and a final term paper.
To help you meet our goals, there will be weekly assignments in which
we can experiment with the things we are learning. Some assignments
will be an opportunity to apply or experiment with the theories and
concerns we are studying. The rest of the assignments will be an
opportunity to write about our readings. In those cases, for about a
third of the readings, I will ask you to write a short paper (1 page)
or summary of the reading before class; for about a third of the
readings, I will give you an opportunity to make such a summary in
class; and for about a third of the readings we will simply begin with
a discussion to achieve the same end. In each case, I will provide
you with questions that can guide your reading.
The exams address the material we have studied. The first exam is
concerned with fundamental material that underlies our remaining
discussions. The final paper will be on a topic of your own interest.
See my Philosophy Paper Format Notes
for help on how such a paper is to be structured.
I regret that I will not accept papers or homeworks by email.
If you have a disabling condition which may interfere with your
ability to successfully complete this course, please contact the
Disability Services Office.
The raw grade will be determined in the following way:
Homeworks and quizes: 40%
See my grading policy for an explanation
of how I turn the raw grade into a final grade.
Exams: 40% (20% each)
Final paper: 20%
If you miss an exam and have an excused absence for the day you miss
the exam, you may make it up, by special appointment with me, when you
are able to come back to class. It is your responsibility to arrange
any make-up exams as soon as you know you are going to miss the
exam. Otherwise you may lose the opportunity to take the test, since I
cannot give make-up exams after the class has gone over the
Here is how you secure an excused absence: Only prior notification
with credibly documented or easily verifiable reasons (e.g., medical
visits to Mary Walker, documented participation in official sporting
events, etc.) will result in excused absences. You must notify in
writing, call, or email me prior to your absence from class. You must
notify the Philosophy Dept. secretary, Pat Meleski, before you are
going to be absent, via email at email@example.com, or by phone at
x2249. However, you must make sure she knows your name, the number of
the course, the date, and your easily verifiable reason, along with a
request to forward the information to me. It is better to give your
information to me, except when you are unable to communicate with my
phone or email for some reason.
Please hold onto all of your assignments and exams. Sometime before
the end of the semester I recommend that you ask me to review the
grades that I have recorded to make sure that I have not made any
College Policy on Intellectual Integrity
Intellectual integrity on the part of all students is basic to
individual growth and development through college course work. When
academic dishonesty occurs, the teaching/learning climate is seriously
undermined and student growth and development are impeded. For these
reasons, any form of intellectual dishonesty is a serious concern and
is therefore prohibited.
The full intellectual integrity policy can be found at
In addition to the listed office hours, I encourage you to make
appointments. I am available quite a bit. Please try to come to
office hours with specific questions in mind. You can of course come
with a general request for help, but it is always helpful if you spend
a little time thinking about how I can best help you out.
In this class, it is your responsibility to learn,
and to be able to describe, explain, and apply:
Your understanding of these questions will be evaluated through
our exams and papers.
- some about different ways that mind, and features of the
mind, have been conceived of at different times, including
reductionism, eliminativism, and dualism or non-reductionism;
- how to define and describe some basic reductionist
positions, including behaviorism, functionalism, and
identity theory; and non-reductivist views like substance
dualism and epiphenomenalism;
- the basic problems concerning the explanation of
representation, phenomenal experience, personal identity,
externalism, free will, and emotion;
- some of the leading theories addressing the problems of
representation, phenomenal experience, personal identity,
externalism, free will, and emotion.
This course will also provide you with opportunities to write both
brief and more extensive papers on complex and (at first) relatively
unclear problems, and our goals include: improving your ability to to
find the core problem in questions that (when first considered) are
rather vague, to describe those problems and provide an argument (when
required) for your solution, and overall to write more clearly. Your
abilities to do these will be evaluated through both short and longer
I will frequently update an online schedule of readings and
assignments. It is your responsibility to check the www pages for
the class at least every other day! The main outline of the course,
revisable pending your input, will be:
- Emotion: nature of emotion
- Emotion: emoting for fictions
- Self and personal identity
- Free will