PHL471: Philosophy of Mind
Room: CC225
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.
Email: craig.delancey@oswego.edu




Introduction

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.

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.

Text

Most of our readings will be available online, through e-reserves or through JSTOR. There are two texts:
John Perry, Personal Identity.
Paul Churchland Matter and Consciousness.
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.

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.

Grading

The raw grade will be determined in the following way:
Homeworks and quizes: 40%
Exams: 40% (20% each)
Final paper: 20%
See my grading policy for an explanation of how I turn the raw grade into a final grade.

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 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 meleski@oswego.edu, 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 www.oswego.edu/administration/registrar/policy_text.html#cpii


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 exams and papers.

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 writing assignments.


Schedule

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: