PHIL 4550 - Philosophy of Mind - Spring 2014

Ron Bombardi
Department of Philosophy
Middle Tennessee State University

Syllabus
 
Objectives Texts Topics Assignments Grades Disabilities Annotations Calendar

              COURSE OBJECTIVES
  The course will provide an overview of traditional and
  contemporary problems in the philosophy of mind. While various
  philosophical projects are treated, emphasis is placed on tracing
  the philosophical implications of contemporary research in
  neurobiology, cognitive psychology, and the behavioral sciences.
  Topics in both classical philosophy of mind and applied
  philosophical psychology will be covered; after considering three
  broad philosophical theories of mentality, students will be
  encouraged assess and critique the applicability of philosophical
  theory to conceptual problems derived from the special sciences
  of mind.

Email: Ron Bombardi
Office: 307 JUB, Ext. 2049
Office Hours: 8:00-9:00 and 12:30-1:30, MWF; 9:00-10:00, TR


Texts

Required Texts

The following texts will figure prominently in class discussion; a thorough familiarity with their contents is advised:

  • Calvin, William H. The Cerebral Code: Thinking a Thought in the Mosaics of the Mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Bradford Books, 1998.
  • Chalmers, David J. The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory (Philosophy of Mind Series). Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 1997.
  • Changeux, Jean-Pierre and Alain Connes. Conversations on Mind, Matter and Mathematics. Ed. and trans., M.B. Debevoise. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995, 1999.
  • Churchland, Patricia S. Neurophilosophy: Toward a Unified Science of Mind/Brain. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, Bradford Books, 1990.
  • Damasio, Antonio R. Descartes' Error: Emotion, Reason, and the Human Brain. New York: Avon Books, 1995.
  • Dennett, Daniel C. Kinds of Minds: Towards an Understanding of Consciousness (Science Masters Series). New York: HarperCollins, 1997.
  • Ford, Kenneth M., Patrick J. Hayes and Clark N. Glymour, eds. Thinking about Android Epistemology. Cambridge, MA: MIT, AAAI Press, 2006.
  • Hacking, Ian. Rewriting the Soul: Multiple Personality and the Sciences of Memory. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995, 1998.

Course Downloads

Recommended Texts

The following texts are recommended as ancillary; a limited supply of them should be available in local bookstores:
  • Churchland, Patricia S. Brain-Wise: Studies in Neurophilosophy. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2002.
  • Damasio, Antonio R. The Feeling of What Happens. New York: Harvest Books, 2000.
  • Hofstadter, Douglas R. and Daniel C. Dennett. The Mind's I. New York: Bantam Books, 1985.
  • Ridley, Matt. The Origins of Virtue: Human Instincts and the Evolution of Cooperation. New York: Penguin, 1998.
  • Simon, Herbert A. The Sciences of the Artificial. Third Edition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1996.

Course Links


Course Division

(1) ON THE MARRIAGE OF TRUE MINDS
       Consciousness and the Mind/Body Problem: Three Philosophical Perspectives
         Readings:  Dennett, Kinds of Minds
                        Chalmers, The Conscious Mind
                        Churchland, Neurophilosophy

(2) SOUL SEARCHING
       Passions, Proofs, and Personalities: Three Philosophical Problems
         Readings:  Damasio, Descartes' Error
                        Hacking, Rewriting the Soul
                        Changeux & Connes, Mattière à Pensée

(3) CURING THE COMMON CODE
       Models, Machines, and Mentality: Three Philosophical Puzzles
         Readings:  Calvin, The Cerebral Code
                        Ford, et al., Thinking about Android Epistemology


Assignments and Course Mechanics
A calendar of readings, discussion topics, and written assignments is provided below. Since the readings will serve as the primary springboard for discussions, it is vital that you be familiar with whatever texts are appropriate to a topic BEFORE that topic is covered in class. Class discussion will approximate seminar format, so joint inquiry will generally take precedence over ex cathedra lecture.

There will be three (3) written assignments (none to exceed ten double-spaced typed pages), as follows.

(1)  Theoretical Analysis. Outline the essential features of a contemporary theory of consciousness; include some discussion of the metaphysical assumptions, methodological practices, and substantive claims that characterize the theory in view.

(2)  Applied Analysis. Various arguments are presented in the texts for the second part of the course (Soul Searching), many purporting to have solved or dissolved some classical philosophical problem or other (e.g., memory & personality, sense & reference, knowledge & perception, etc.); examine and evaluate one such argument.

(3)  Experimental Analysis. Devise a thought-experiment to test an hypothesis derived or derivable from a specific (biological, computational, mechanical, etc.) model of mentality.


Grades
Ten percent of the final grade will reflect class participation. The remaining ninety percent of the final grade will be based on the following division (total possible points = 90):

   (a)  Theoretical Analysis:      30 pts.
   (b)  Applied Analysis:           30 pts.
   (c)  Experimental Analysis:   30 pts.


Accomodation for Students with Disabilities
If you have a disability that may require assistance or accommodation, or you have questions related to any accommodations for testing, note takers, readers, etc., please speak with your instructor as soon as possible. Students may a lso contact the Office of Disabled Students Services (898-2783) with questions about such services.




Essay Annotations
 
The following markers are designed to index problems in essay work. They are NOT arranged in order of severity. They do NOT necessarily correlate with grade assignments.
 

*****SYNTAX*****

(1) Spelling error here.

(2) Noncritical weakness in sentence structure.

(3) Critical weakness in sentence structure. (meaning lost).

(4) Punctuation not clear.

*****SEMANTICS*****

(5) Term or phrase unclear or unexplained.

(6) Term or phrase ambiguous.

(7) New paragraph warranted here.

(8) Circumlocution here; simpler expression available.

*****ANALYSIS*****

(9) General structure of this argument unclear.

(10) Conclusion does not follow without unstated assumptions.

(11) Relevance of this point to your argument is not clear.

(12) This assertion is questionable and requires further support.

(13) Further consequences of this claim are unmentioned but relevant.

(14) This inference is formally invalid.




Course Calendar
 

DATE

MATERIALS COVERED

DATE

MATERIALS COVERED

J. 17

Introductory; Syllabus

14

Spring Break: No Classes

22

Dennett, Chapters 1-2

17

Hacking, Chapters 1-3

24

Dennett, Chapters 3-4

19

Hacking, Chapters 4-6

27

Dennett, Chapters 5-6

21

Hacking, Chapters 7-9

29

Chalmers, Chapters 1-2

24

Hacking, Chapters 10-12

31

Chalmers, Chapters 3-5

26

Hacking, Chapters 13-15

F. 03

Chalmers, Chapters 6-8

28

Hacking, Chapters 16-18

05

Chalmers, Chapters 9-10

31

Changeux & Connes, Chapters 1-2

07

Churchland, Chapters 1-2

A. 02

Changeux & Connes, Chapter 3

10

Churchland, Chapters 3-5

04

Changeux & Connes, Chapter 4

12

Chruchland, Chapter 6

07

Changeux & Connes, Chapter 5

14

Churchland, Chapters 7-8

09

Changeux & Connes, Chapter 6

19

Churchland, Chapter 09

11

Changeux & Connes, Chapters 7-Epilogue

21

Churchland, Chapter 10

14

Calvin, Chapters 1-2

24

Damasio, Chapters 1-2

16

Calvin, Chapters 3-4

26

Damasio, Chapters 3-4

18

Calvin, Chapters 5-6 / Applied Analysis due

28

Damasio, Chapters 5-6 / Theoretical Analysis due

21

Calvin, Chapters 7-8

M. 03

Damasio Chapters 7-8

23

Calvin, Chapters 9-10

05

Damasio, Chapters 9-10

25

Calvin, Chapter 11

07

Damasio, Chapters 11-Postscriptum

28

Ford, Chapters 1-9

10

Spring Break: No Classes

30

Ford, Chs. 10-17 / Experimental Analysis

12

Spring Break: No Classes

M. 05

Final Examination Period: 9:30 - 11:30