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Phil Mind (UBC)

PHIL 451A: Philosophy of Mind

Winter 2008, Term 1, University of British Columbia

Wednesdays, 1:00-3:50 pm, West Mall Swing Space, Room 406

Instructor: Jonathan Tsou
Office: Buchanan E369
Office Hours: Mondays, 2:00-4:00 pm


Prerequisite: PHIL 240 (or COGS 200 if accompanied by 3 credits of PHIL at the 200-level or above).
Course Description: This is an advanced course in philosophy of mind, which examines some important historical and contemporary debates in the philosophy of mind literature. Topics covered in the course include alternative philosophical approaches to the mind-body problem (e.g., dualism, materialism, functionalism), the problem of explaining consciousness, and the nature of mental phenomena. Students will read a variety of philosophical perspectives on mind, including writings by René Descartes, Franz Brentano, Gilbert Ryle, Hilary Putnam, Jaegwon Kim, Ned Block, David Chalmers, and Daniel Dennett.
Course Texts:

David J. Chalmers (ed.) (2002). Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings. New York: Oxford University Press.

Jaegwon Kim (2006). Philosophy of Mind, 2nd edition. Cambridge, MA: Westview Press.


Course Evaluation: Students will be evaluated on the following criteria:

i) Participation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25%
ii) Optional midterm paper (8-12 pp.) . . . . . . . 25%
iii) Final term paper (16-20 pp.) . . . . . . . . . . . .50%

Participation includes attendance, classroom participation, and weekly short questions. Students are expected to read the weekly readings carefully and be prepared to discuss them critically in class. In addition, students will be asked to submit a weekly short question (no more than five sentences), which also contributes towards the participation grade.

Students have the option of writing two papers (ii and iii above) or submitting one final term paper worth 75% of their grade. There is no disadvantage to writing two papers. If your final paper is stronger than your midterm paper, then I will disregard your midterm paper grade; but if your midterm paper is stronger than your final paper, then your midterm paper will be worth 25% of your final grade. For both the midterm and final papers, I will provide a list of possible paper topics, or students may write on a topic of their choice that is related to the course materials. Students may write a final paper that expands on the topic of their midterm paper.


Course Schedule: (Readings should be read prior to the date they appear under)

* Chalmers = David Chalmers (ed.). Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings.
* Kim = Jaegwon Kim. Philosophy of Mind, 2nd edition.


1. Introduction (Sept. 3)

  • Recommended: David Chalmers, "Foundations" (Chalmers, pp. 1-9)

2. Foundations: Cartesian and Substance Dualism (Sept. 10)

  • René Descartes, "Meditations on First Philosophy, Meditations 2 and 6" (Chalmers, ch. 1, pp. 10-21)
  • René Descartes, "Passions of the Soul" (Chalmers, ch. 2, pp. 21-23)

  • Recommended: Jaegwon Kim, "Substance Dualism" (Kim, ch. 2, pp. 29-53)

3. Foundations: Behaviorism and Logical Behaviorism (Sept. 17)

  • Gilbert Ryle, "Descartes' Myth" (Chalmers, ch. 5, pp. 32-38)
  • Rudolf Carnap, "Psychology in Physical Language" (Chalmers, ch. 6, pp. 39-44)
  • Hilary Putnam, "Brains and Behavior" (Chalmers, ch. 7, pp. 45-54)

  • Recommended: Jaegwon Kim, "Mind as Behavior: Behaviorism"(Kim, ch. 3, pp. 55-80)

4. Foundations: Identity Theory (Sept. 24)

  • U. T. Place, "Is Consciousness a Brain Process?" (Chalmers, ch. 8, pp. 55-60)
  • J. C. Smart, "Sensations and Brain Processes" (Chalmers, ch. 9, pp. 60-68)
  • Herbert Feigl, "The 'Mental' and the 'Physical'" (Chalmers, ch. 10, pp. 68-72)

  • Recommended: Jaegwon Kim, "Mind as the Brain: The Psychoneural Identity Theory" (Kim, ch. 4, pp. 81-114)

5. Foundations: Functionalism (Oct. 1)

  • Hilary Putnam, "The Nature of Mental States" (Chalmers, ch. 11, pp. 73-79)
  • D. M. Armstrong, "The Causal Theory of the Mind" (Chalmers, ch. 12, pp. 80-87)
  • Ned Block, "Troubles with Functionalism" (Chalmers, ch. 14, pp. 94-98)

  • Recommended: Jaegwon Kim, "Mind as a Computing Machine: Machine Functionalism" (Kim, ch. 5)

6. Consciousness: General I (Oct. 8)

  • Thomas Nagel, "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" (Chalmers, ch. 25, pp. 219-226)
  • Ned Block, "Concepts of Consciousness" (Chalmers, ch. 24, pp. 206-218)

  • Recommended: David Chalmers, "Consciousness" (Chalmers, pp. 197-205)

7. Consciousness: General II (Oct. 15)
  • Daniel Dennett, "Quining Qualia" (Chalmers, ch. 26, pp. 226-246)

  • Recommended: Jaegwon Kim, "Consciousness" (Kim, ch. 8, pp. 205-237)

8. Consciousness: General III (Oct. 22)

    * * * * MIDTERM PAPER DUE * * * *

  • David Chalmers, "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness" (pp. 1-21) (Paper)
  • Recommended: David Chalmers, "Consciousness and Its Place in Nature" (Chalmers, ch. 27, pp. 247-272)

9. Consciousness: The Explanatory Gap (Oct. 29)

  • Joseph Levine, "Materialism and Qualia: The Explanatory Gap" (Chalmers, ch. 35, pp. 354-361)
  • Colin McGinn, "Can We Solve the Mind-Body Problem?" (Chalmers, ch. 38, pp. 394-405)

  • Recommended: Ned Block and Robert Stalnaker, .Conceptual Analysis, Dualism, and the Explanatory Gap. (Chalmers, ch. 37, pp. 371-393)

10. Consciousness: Representationalism (Nov. 5)

  • Christopher Peacocke, "Sensation and the Content of Experience" (Chalmers, ch. 41, pp. 435-446)
  • Michael Tye, "Visual Qualia and Visual Content Revisited" (Chalmers, ch. 42, pp. 447-456)

  • Recommended: Sydney Shoemaker, "Introspection and Phenomenal Character" (Chalmers, ch. 43, pp. 457-472)

11. Mental Content: Intentionality I (Nov. 12)

  • Franz Brentano, "The Distinction between Mental and Physical Phenomena" (Chalmers, ch. 44, pp. 479-484)
  • Roderick Chisholm, "Intentional Inexistence" (Chalmers, ch. 45, pp. 484-491)

  • Recommended: David Chalmers, "Content" (Chalmers, pp. 473-478)

12. Mental Content: Intentionality II (Nov. 19)

  • Ruth Garrett Millikan, "Biosemantics" (Chalmers, ch. 47, pp. 500-509)
  • Robert Brandom, "Reasoning and Representing" (Chalmers, ch. 48, pp. 509-519)

  • Recommended: Jaegwon Kim, "Mental Content" (Kim, ch. 9, pp. 239-272)

13. Mental Content: Propositional Attitudes (Nov. 26)

  • Wilfrid Sellars, "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind" (Chalmers, ch. 50, pp. 534-541)
  • Jerry Fodor, "Propositional Attitudes" (Chalmers, ch. 51, pp. 542-555)

  • Recommended: Daniel Dennett, "True Believers" (Chalmers, ch. 52, pp. 556-568)

          * * * * FINAL PAPER DUE: DEC 10 * * * *


For a good philosophy of mind bibliography, see Mind Papers (maintained by David Chalmers and David Bourget)