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.

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:
Quizzes: 35%
Practice assignments: 20%
Practice quizes: 10%
Final exam: 10%
Term paper: 20%
Review of other student's paper: 5%
See my grading policy for an explanation of how I turn the raw grade into a final grade.

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 answers.

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, 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 mistakes.

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

Office Hours

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.

Learning goals

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.

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 writing assignments.


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: