PHIL340: Philosophy of mind

Classes: Tuesday/Thursday 5.30-6.45pm

 

Course Description

What is consciousness? What types of things have consciousness? How do our conscious experiences relate to the physical states of our brains? How do our conscious experiences relate to our concepts of those experiences? This courses engages the contemporary philosophical and scientific literature on the problem of explaining consciousness.

  

Readings

All readings are either linked to below or will be distributed on blackboard. However, here are some useful philosophy of mind textbooks:

David Chalmers, editor., Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings, Oxford, 2002.

Jaegwon Kim, Philosophy of Mind, Cambridge, 2006.

  

Assessment

Attendance

2% will be deducted from the student’s final mark for every unexcused absence. If a student is going to miss a lecture, he/she must contact the instructor prior to that lecture.

Article analysis. Due Monday, October 3. Worth 20%.

Choose an article from the reading list. Summarise what the article is trying to do then critically analyse it. 1000-1500 words. Upload to blackboard before deadline.

Research paper. Due Monday, November 28. Worth 40%.
Choose a topic from the course, write a philosophical essay on it. 2500-3500 words. Upload to blackboard before deadline.

Final exam (exam period is Mon – Sat, Dec 12 – 17). Worth 40%.

 

Schedule

 

Week 1: The puzzle of consciousness

Tuesday, August 30

Required reading: “The puzzle of consciousness” – David Chalmers, 1995.

Thursday, September 1

Required reading: “What is it like to be a bat?” – Thomas Nagel.

Optional additional reading: “Facing up to the problem of consciousness” – David Chalmers, 1995.

 

Week 2: Materialism and the causal closure of the physical world

Tuesday, September 6

Required reading: “The case for materialism” – David Papineau, 2002 (chapter 1).

Optional additional reading: “The History of the Completeness of Physics” – David Papineau, 2002 (appendix).

[Note: both readings are from Papineau’s book “Thinking about consciousness”. They will be made available on blackboard soon. Until then, see the online draft of the book.]

Thursday, September 8

Required reading: “The hidden premise in the causal argument for physicalism” – Robert Bishop, 2006.

Optional additional reading: plato.stanford.edu/entries/physicalism/.

 

Week 3: Functionalism

Tuesday, September 13

Required reading: “Mad pain and martian pain” – David Lewis, 1980.

Optional additional reading: plato.stanford.edu/entries/functionalism/.

Thursday, September 15

Required reading: “Some varieties of functionalism” – Sydney Shoemaker, 1981.

Optional additional reading: plato.stanford.edu/entries/functionalism/.

 

Week 4: The knowledge argument

Tuesday, September 20

Required reading: “Epiphenomenal qualia” – Frank Jackson, 1982.

Optional additional reading: “The knowledge argument” – Brie Gertler, 2005.

Thursday, September 22

Required reading: “What experience teaches” – David Lewis, 1988.

Optional additional reading: plato.stanford.edu/entries/qualia-knowledge/.

 

Week 5: Varieties of materialism and dualism

Tuesday, September 27

Required reading: “Consciousness and its place in nature” – David Chalmers, 2003.

Thursday, September 29

 

Required reading: “Consciousness and its place in nature” – David Chalmers, 2003.

 

Week 6: The conceivability argument

Tuesday, October 4

Required reading: “The two-dimensional argument against materialism” [Sections 1-3] – David Chalmers, 2010.

Optional additional reading: plato.stanford.edu/entries/two-dimensional-semantics/supplement.html

Thursday, October 6

Required reading: “The two-dimensional argument against materialism” [Sections 4-10] – David Chalmers, 2010.

Optional additional reading: plato.stanford.edu/entries/two-dimensional-semantics/

 

Week 7: Eliminativism

Tuesday, October 11

Required reading: “Quining qualia” – Daniel Dennett, 1988.

Optional additional reading: plato.stanford.edu/entries/materialism-eliminative/

Thursday, October 13

Required reading: “Quining qualia” – Daniel Dennett, 1988.

Optional additional reading: plato.stanford.edu/entries/materialism-eliminative/

 

Week 8: The phenomenal concepts strategy I

Tuesday, October 18

Required reading: “Phenomenal states II” – Brian Loar, 1997.

Optional additional reading: “Phenomenal concepts” – David Papineau, 2002 (chapter 4 of “Thinking about consciousness”).

Thursday, October 20

Required reading: “Phenomenal concepts and the explanatory gap” – David Chalmers, 2007.

 

Week 9: The phenomenal concepts strategy II

Tuesday, October 25

Required reading: “Phenomenal concepts and the explanatory gap” – David Chalmers, 2007.

Thursday, October 27

Required reading: “In defense of the phenomenal concept strategy” – Katalin Balog, 2012.

 

Week 10: Panpsychism

Tuesday, November 1

Required reading:  “Panpsychism” [Pages 1-6] – Philip Goff.

Optional additional reading: “Panpsychism” – William Seager.

Thursday, November 3

Required reading: “Why panpsychism doesn’t help us explain consciousness” – Philip Goff, 2009.

Optional additional reading: “Panpsychism and Panprotopsychism” – David Chalmers, 2016.

 

Week 11: Integrated information theory

Tuesday, November  8

Required reading: “Consciousness: here, there and everywhere?” – Tononi and Koch, 2015.

Optional additional reading: “Calculating phi” – McQueen and Mørch, 2016.

Thursday, November 10

Required reading: “Consciousness: here, there and everywhere?” – Tononi and Koch, 2015.

Optional additional reading: “Calculating phi” – McQueen and Mørch, 2016.

 

Week 12: Integrated information theory, criticisms & applications

Tuesday, November 15

Required reading: “The problem with phi: a critique of integrated information theory” – Michael Cerullo, 2015.

Optional additional reading: (i) Scott Aaronson’s critique of IIT; (ii) Tononi’s response.

Thursday, November 17

Required reading: “Can IIT solve the combination problem for Russellian panpsychism?” – Hedda Mørch, 2016.

Optional additional reading: “The combination problem for panpsychism” – David Chalmers, 2016.

 

Week 13: Thanksgiving recess (nov 21 – 25)

 

Research essay due: Monday, November 28.

 

Week 14: Quantum mechanics

Tuesday, November 29

Required reading: (i) “Superposition” (chapter 1 of “Quantum mechanics and experience”) – David Albert, 1992; (ii) video clip explaining double-slit experiment.

Optional additional reading: (i) “The mathematical formalism” (p17-38 of “Quantum Mechanics and Experience”); (ii) “Quantum Mechanics for Philosophers” – Michael Huemer.

Thursday, December 1

Required reading: “Superposition” (chapter 1 of “Quantum mechanics and experience”) – David Albert, 1992; (ii) video clip explaining double-slit experiment.

Optional additional reading: (i) “The measurement problem” (chapter 4 of “Quantum mechanics and experience”); (ii) “Quantum Mechanics for Philosophers” – Michael Huemer.

 

Week 15: The consciousness-causes-collapse hypothesis

Tuesday, December 6

Required reading: (i) “Applying mathematical theories of consciousness to collapse interpretations of quantum mechanics” – Kelvin McQueen and David Chalmers, 2016; (ii) video clip of lecture.

Optional additional reading: “Remarks on the mind-body question” – Eugene Wigner, 1961.

Thursday, December 8

Required reading: (i) “Applying mathematical theories of consciousness to collapse interpretations of quantum mechanics” – Kelvin McQueen and David Chalmers, 2016; (ii) video clip of lecture.

 

Final exam (exam period is Mon – Sat, Dec 12 – 17).

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