PHIL 320: Philosophy of Mind (Fall 2003)

The URL for this syllabus is Please check it periodically for updates and changes.

Content and Objectives

This course is a survey of the set of philosophical issues concerning thinking, consciousness, and related notions that has been known, since the early 20th century, as the philosophy of mind. We will study this through reading a set of selections from philosophers. Although most of our readings are from relatively recent figures, the issues themselves have been discussed by philosophers since the beginnings of western philosophy in ancient Greece.

Overall, this course has three objectives:

  1. To familiarize you with the principal issues in the philosophy of mind and some of the more influential philosophical arguments concerning those issues.
  2. To give you experience in reading, analyzing, and criticizing philosophical arguments.
  3. To teach you how to develop an argument concerning a philosophical issue and present it in a written paper.


David Rosenthal, The Nature of Mind (Oxford University Press, 1991).

Formal Work

What Relative Weight When
Exam 1 25% Oct. 9
Exam 2 25% Nov. 11 (CHANGED)
Exam 3 25% Dec. 12, 3:00 PM
Term paper (8-10 pages) 25% Due Dec. 15

The exams for the course are intended to test your familiarity with and understanding of the course readings and your ability to follow, criticize, and develop a philosophical argument. The term paper, on a more focused topic concerning the philosophy of mind, will be evaluated with respect to how well you have researched the philosophical literature on your subject, how accurately and clearly you present the arguments offered by other philosophers, and how insightful you are in analyzing or criticizing those positions or in developing your own view.


The schedule below is subject to change, as necessary, to accommodate the pace of the class. If it is necessary to postpone an exam, there will be at least a week's notice (posted here and announced in class); exams will NOT be moved up to earlier dates.

Class Schedule and Reading Assignments
Date Subject Readings
Sept. 2 About the class
Sept. 4 Cartesian minds Descartes, Meditations II (Online), VI (Online); Discourse on Method 5 [Rosenthal pp. 21-29, 34-35]
Sept. 9 Ryle and 'Category Mistakes' Ryle, "Descartes's Myth" [Rosenthal 4]
Sept. 11 Minds and Living Beings Matthews, "Consciousness and Life" [Rosenthal 6]
Sept. 16 Incorrigibility Shoemaker, "How Is Self-Knowledge Possible?"; Armstrong, "Is Introspective Knowledge Incorrigible?" [Rosenthal 12, 13]
Sept. 18 Mind and Body Smart, "Sensations and Brain Processes" [Rosenthal 17]
Sept. 23 Armstrong, "The Causal Theory of Mind" [Rosenthal 19]
Sept. 25 Functionalism Putnam, "The Nature of Mental States" [Rosenthal 21]
Sept. 30 Functionalism Block, "Troubles with Functionalism" [Rosenthal 23]
Oct. 2 Some Class Notes for Exam 1
Oct. 7 Overview: Identity Theories See these class notes
Oct. 9 EXAM 1 Sample questions for exam 1 (changes periodically)
A version of Exam 1 with answers (pdf format)
Oct. 14 Kripke on Identity Kripke, extract from Naming and Necessity [Rosenthal 25]
Oct. 16 Kripke continued
Oct. 21 'Anomalous Monism' Davidson, "Mental Events" [Rosenthal 26]
Oct. 23 Davidson continued
Oct. 28 Supervenient Causation Kim, "Epiphenomenalism and Supervenient Causation" [Rosenthal 27]
Oct. 30 Eliminativism Feyerabend, "Mental Events and the Brain"; Quine, "States of Mind" [Rosenthal 28, 30]
Nov. 4 Eliminativism Churchland, "Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes" [Rosenthal 61]
Nov. 6 EXAM 2 HAS BEEN CHANGED TO NOV. 11 Sample Questions for Exam 2 (see also the class notes, which now include notes on Kripke, Davidson, and Kim)
Nov. 13 Qualia Jackson, "What Mary Didn't Know" [Rosenthal 42]
Nov. 18 Qualia, continued Shoemaker, "Functionalism and Qualia" [Rosenthal 43]
Nov. 20 Intentionality Dennett, "True Believers: The Intentional Strategy and Why It Works" [Rosenthal 36]
Nov. 25 Intentionality and Consciousness Nagel, "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" [Rosenthal 46]
Nov. 27-28 Thanksgiving Break
Dec. 2 Searle's 'Chinese Room' Searle, "Minds, Brains, and Programs" [Rosenthal 55]
Dec. 4 Searle vs. Fodor Searle-Fodor Exchange [Rosenthal 55]
Dec. 9 Some Slack Time
Dec. 10-11 Dead days
Dec. 12 Final exam 3-5 PM Sample Questions for Exam 3 (see also the class notes, which now include notes on Jackson, Nagel, Shoemaker, and Searle)

Policies on Academic Dishonesty

Please see the Texas A&M University Student Rules, Section 20 for definitions of types of academic dishonesty and the penalties that can be imposed. Note in particular the definition of plagiarism:

Failing to credit sources used in a work product in an attempt to pass off the work as one's own. Attempting to receive credit for work performed by another, including papers obtained in whole or in part from individuals or other sources.

Just to make this point clear: submitting a term paper taken from an Internet paper service, in whole or in part, is academic dishonesty. Submitting such a paper and including an acknowledgment that it was taken from a paper service is academic dishonesty plus a confession.

Americans with Disabilities Act

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal antidiscrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accomodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accomodation, please contact the Department of Student Life, Services for Students with Disabilities in Room 126 of the Koldus Building, on the Interet at, or by telephone at 979-845-1637.

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