Philosophy of Mind (Fall 2007) - Syllabus


The goal of this course is to introduce students to the major theories and problems in the philosophy of mind. The course is focused on the mind-body problem—how to explain the relationship between the mental and the physical. We will explore several major solutions to the problem. In addition, we will pose several problems for the leading functionalist solutions. Questions to be explored include: What is the mark of the mental? What is consciousness? How can mental states cause actions? Students will gain an understanding of some of the major issues that occupy current debates in the philosophy of mind. The goal of this course is to prepare students for additional personal research into the subject and for more advanced work in the area.


There are two required texts for this course:

    1. David J. Chalmers (editor), Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings (Oxford UP; 2002). [DC]

    2. John Heil, Philosophy of Mind: A Contemporary Introduction: (Routledge; 2004), 2nd edition.


There will be three forms of coursework: weekly quizzes, two short papers, and two examinations. Each week I will give a short quiz at the beginning of class that will require one to two sentence answers. There will be a short paper of less than 3 pages and a longer 7 page paper on assigned topics. There will also be a mid-term and a comprehensive final examination.

Quizzes (10%) + Paper 1 (15%) + Paper 2 (25%) + mid term (20%) + final (30%).

Academic Honesty

Plagiarism--claiming someone else’s ideas or written work as your own--will not be tolerated. Anyone caught cheating will be given a failing grade. I will also write a letter will to the dean requesting that you be expelled from the the university.

Disability Statement

This course is open to all students who meet the academic requirements for participation. Any student who has a need for accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact the instructor privately to discuss the specific situation as soon as possible. Contact Disability Resources and Services at 215-204-1280 in 100 Ritter Annex to coordinate reasonable accommodations for students with documented disabilities.

Statement on Academic Freedom

Freedom to teach and freedom to learn are inseparable facets of academic freedom. The University has adopted a policy on Student and Faculty Academic Rights and Responsibilities (Policy # 03.70.02) which can be accessed through the following link:

Schedule (reduced)

    • Week 1 (8/28) Introduction

      • Readings: Heil, Chapter 1 “Introduction”

Topic I (Dualism)

    • Week 2 9/4 Cartesian Dualism

      • Readings: Heil, Chapter 2 “Cartesian Dualism”; Descartes, Meditations II and IV (DC 1); Descartes, Passions of the Soul (DC 2).

    • Week 3 9/11 Descartes's Legacy

      • Readings: Heil, Chapter 3 “Descartes's Legacy”; Huxley (DC 3).

Topic II (Behaviorism)

    • Week 4 9/18 Behaviorism

      • Readings: Heil, Chapter 5 “Behaviorism”; Gilbert Ryle, “Descartes' Myth” (DC 5).

    • Week 5 9/25 Behaviorism continued

      • Readings: Hilary Putnam, “Brains and Behavior” (DC 7).

      • Paper #1 Due

Topic III (Identity Theory)

    • Week 6 10/2 Identity Theory

      • Readings: Heil, Chapter 6 “The Identity Theory”; Smart, “Sensations and Brain Processes” (DC 9).

Topic IV (Functionalism)

    • Week 7 10/9 Functionalism

      • Readings: Heil, Chapter 7 “Functionalism”; Armstrong, “The Causal Theory of Mind” (DC 12).

    • Week 8 10/16 Functionalism continued

      • Readings: Block, “Troubles with Functionalism” (DC 14).

Topic V (Representational Theory of Mind)

    • Week 9 10/23 RTM

      • Readings: Heil, Chapter 8 “The Representational Theory of Mind”.

    • Week 10 10/30 RTM continued

      • Readings: Searle, “Can Computers Think?” (DC 63).

Topic VI (Consciousness)

    • Week 11 11/6 Qualia

      • Readings: Heil, Chapter 9 “Qualia”; Nagel, “What is it Like to Be a Bat? (DC 25).


    • Week 12 11/15 The Knowledge Argument

      • Readings: Jackson, “Epiphenomenal Qualia” (DC 28).

    • Week 13 11/20 The Knowledge Argument continued

      • Readings: Lewis, “What Experience Teaches” (DC 29).

      • Paper #2 Due

    • Week 14 11/27 The Explanatory Gap

      • Readings: Levine, “Materialism and Qualia: The Explanatory Gap” (DC 35).

    • Week 15 12/4 The Explanatory Gap continued

      • Readings: McGinn, “Can We Solve the Mind-Body Problem?” (DC 38).

End of Classes

    • Week 16 12/10-14 (Final exam week)