Philosophy | Introduction to Philosophy of Mind
P360 | 3399 | Schmitt


Philosophy of mind concerns the nature of mind and its relation to
the natural world.  We will focus on the mind-body problem.  Are
minds material (materialism) or nonmaterial (dualism)?  We will
consider the merits of various forms of materialism - the
psychophysical identity theory, functionalism, and eliminative
materialism.  There will be much discussion of whether and how minds
causally affect bodies.  Can minds and bodies be causally related
unless mental states reduce to bodily states?  Does the mental
supervene on the physical and what explains this supervenience?  Can
mental states be realized in different media -- in electronic states
of a computer or robot as well as in human neural states?  How does
psychological explanation work?  Are attributions of mental states
merely an instrument for predicting behavior, or do they attribute
real states?  Do they involve idealizations (e.g., attributing
perfect rationality)?

We will delve into the nature of consciousness and qualia.  We will
examine the nature of propositional attitudes and the contents.  Are
contents wide (involving relations to the subject's environment) or
narrow (constant across environments)?  Must psychological
explanations of behavior advert to contents that are wide or are
narrow contents enough?  These issues will involve some comparison of
human and animal mentality.  They will also involve the question of
whether machines can think.  We will treat the epistemology of mind.
How do we know our own minds and those of others?  Do we know our own
minds by a process of introspection or by theoretical posits?  Do we
know the minds of others by simulating their thoughts or by
theoretical posits?

If time permits, we will discuss another topic or two - personal
identity or the nature of emotions.  Texts will include an
introductory book, an anthology, and articles by some of the
following authors:  Daniel Dennett, Jerry Fodor, John Searle, Stephen
Stich, Ruth Millikan, Fred Dretske, and Jaegwon Kim.