PHL471: Philosophy of Mind
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. We will spend about 2 weeks on each of the following topics:
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
JSTOR. Bring the readings to class on those days when we are reading
and discussing them.
There is one text:
Alva Noe, Action in Perception
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 reviews of the readings, weekly short essays applying our new
concepts, seven quizzes, a short final exam, and a term paper.
The quizzes will address the material we have studied over the last
two weeks. The final exam will be comprehensive. The final paper
will be on a topic of your own interest; it will be blind peer
reviewed by one of the other students in class. See my Philosophy Paper Format Notes for help on how
such a paper is to be structured, and see my See my
Philosophy paper rubric to know how I grade the papers.
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:
See my grading policy for an explanation
of how I turn the raw grade into a final grade.
Practice assignments: 20%
Practice quizes: 10%
Final exam: 10%
Term paper: 20%
Review of other student's paper: 5%
Please note that I do not grade for attendance. That's an agreement
between us: I trust you to manage your own time. So don't come to
class to surf the web or text. I hate that, to be honest. It's
insulting to me and distracting to your peers. Just stay in your dorm
room, or at the coffee shop, if you want to surf the web or yak. I
won't punish you in any way for doing that.
I grade and return concept applications and reading reviews and
quizzes very quickly; generally I'll get them back to you at the next
class. This is really important because you need prompt feedback. If
you hand any work in late, I may accept it, and if I accept it I may
reduce the points it receives, but I make no promises about when I
will return it. For example, I may not grade it before the final
exam. This hurts you because you miss getting that feedback; but I
maintain a tight schedule by keeping focussed on what we are doing now
and next. It really slows things down to be getting work late, so I
manage that by putting off late work until I have time for it. Which
may be in May.
If you miss a quiz and have an excused absence for the day you miss
the quiz, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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 quizzes and your paper.
- 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
perception, phenomenal experience, personal identity,
externalism, conscious free will, and emotion;
- some of the leading theories addressing the problems of
perception, phenomenal experience, personal identity,
externalism, conscious free will, and emotion.
This course will also provide you with opportunities to write both
brief and a more extensive paper 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:
- Self and personal identity
- Free will