PHIL2206 Philosophy of Mind

Time: Mondays 2pm – 5pm, CivEng 101
Lecturer: Dr Wylie Breckenridge
Contacts:, 0428175034
Consultations: Mondays 1pm – 2pm, Tuesdays 12pm – 1pm, and by appointment
Website: (go to the 'Teaching' section)
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This course is an introduction to the central issues in contemporary philosophy of mind. We will work our way systematically through the book Philosophy of Mind by Jaegwon Kim, covering roughly one chapter each week. We will also read and carefully discuss eight of the most important papers in the philosophy of mind.

There are three hours of class each week. In the first two hours we will talk about the topic for the week, allowing plenty of time for discussion. In preparation for these first two hours, students should read the relevant chapter of Kim. In the third hour we will discuss the week’s paper. In preparation for this hour, students should carefully read the paper in advance (this is very important). In some weeks there will be no paper to read; rather, we will discuss an assessment task that was done in the previous week. These weeks will also be a chance to discuss other aspects of the course.

One of the aims of the course is to get an understanding of what philosophy of mind is about, to gain some knowledge of the history of the subject, and to get a feel for some of the central problems and what we might say about them. But a more important aim is for us to just get better at doing philosophy. Students should thus work at developing the various skills central to being a philosopher: questioning things, especially the apparently obvious; thinking carefully about possible answers; listening to others and discussing with them; reading thoughtfully; speaking and writing clearly; and so on. Even if we never again consider the particular problems that we consider in this course, most of us will continue to philosophize throughout our lives, so learning how to do that well is one of the most important aspects of the course.

Weekly schedule (subject to slight changes)

Week 1 No class
Week 2 Introduction Kim: Chapter 1
Week 3 Substance dualism Kim: Chapter 2
Descartes: Meditations II and VI
Week 4 Behaviourism Kim: Chapter 3
Putnam (1963): ‘Brains and behavior’
Week 5 Mind-brain identity Kim: Chapter 4
(discussion of task 1)
Week 6 Functionalism Kim: Chapter 5
Putnam (1967): ‘Psychological predicates’
Week 7 Causal theories Kim: Chapter 6
Lewis (1972): ‘Psych. & Theor. Identifications’
Week 8 Mental causation Kim: Chapter 7
Davidson (1970): ‘Mental Events’
Week 9 Consciousness Kim: Chapter 8
(discussion of task 2)
Week 10 Consciousness Kim: Chapter 8
Jackson (1982): ‘Epiphenomenal Qualia’
Nagel (1974): ‘What is it like to be a Bat?’
Week 11 No class
Week 12 Mental content Kim: Chapter 9
Putnam (1973): ‘Meaning and Reference’
Week 13 Reduction & physicalism Kim: Chapter 10
(discussion of task 3)

Required texts

Other useful resources