Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York
 


The Mind-Body Problem

PHIL 6457: The Mind-Body Problem

Syllabus – Spring 2014

Instructor: William Jaworski

Email addresses: jaworski@fordham.edu

Phone numbers: 212-636-6588

Office Location: LL 916C

Office Hours: M 600-700p at RH, W 330-530 at LC, or by appointment

 

Required texts

Jaworski, William. Philosophy of Mind: A Comprehensive Introduction (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011)

Additional reading materials on Blackboard (http://fordham.blackboard.com/) and through e-journals from the Fordham Library

 

Recommended texts

Williams, Joseph M. Style: Toward Clarity and Grace. (University of Chicago Press, 1995)

 

Course Objectives and Expectations

Philosophy of mind is usefully divided into five areas of research: (1) mind and body, (2) mental representation, (3) consciousness, (4) philosophy of psychology and neuroscience, (5) action theory. Area (1) is foundational for all the others. The goal of this course is to introduce students to philosophy of mind by focusing on (1). We operate with two images of ourselves: In our everyday dealings we see ourselves as psychological and moral beings with beliefs, desires, hopes, joys, fears, and loves, who ought or ought not to do certain things, and who are held morally responsible for acting as we do. In our scientific dealings, on the other hand, we see ourselves as biophysical beings whose behaviors are conditioned by the impact of the environment on a complex system of nerve fibers. For hundreds of years, the attempt to bring these two images together to form a single unified picture of human nature has met with failure – a failure typically called ‘the mind-body problem’: we have difficulty understanding how events in the brain are related to thoughts, feelings, and actions. In recent years attention has focused on a group of theories that are both naturalistic and antireductionistic: nonreductive physicalism, emergentism, epiphenomenalism, neutral monism, and hylomorphism. These theories will be our special focus.

Students successfully completing the course should have greater facility reading, understanding, and critically evaluating current literature in philosophy of mind; they should have a clearer sense of the similarities and differences between Aristotelian psychology and the mind-body theories that have been developed since the 17th century; and they should have greater facility writing, presenting, and evaluating arguments in general. Students are expected (i) to familiarize themselves with the Arts and Sciences Policy on Academic Integrity and the severe consequences of violating it; (ii) to attend each class session (barring extenuating circumstances); (iii) to have read the assigned material and completed the assigned written work on time; and (iv) to be active participants in class discussion. The professor is expected (i) to familiarize himself with the Arts and Sciences Policy on Academic Integrity; (ii) to attend each class session (barring extenuating circumstances); (iii) to have read the assigned material; (iv) to be an active participant in class discussion; (v) to grade assignments in a timely fashion; and (vi) to be available to students who need help.

 

NOTE: Your Fordham email account is the source for all official communication regarding the course.

 

Grades and Assignments: Grades will be determined according to the following percentages:

 

Argument Rehearsals (5% each): Argument rehearsals are formal writing assignments that rehearse arguments discussed in class or the readings. A rehearsal is not a summary of a theory or argument; it is not a description of a theory or argument; it is not a comparison of what competing theories say; it is not a report of what someone said; it is rather the presentation of an argument (of reasons for thinking something is true or false) written from the perspective of someone who endorses those reasons. The purpose of rehearsals is fourfold: (1) to give students practice reciting well-formulated arguments, (2) to teach them how to understand, appreciate, and respect different points of view, (3) to infuse their oral expression with the precision and clarity of the written word, and (4) to infuse their written expression the fluidity and vibrancy of the spoken word. Rehearsals are typically due at the class session immediately following the session at which the argument is covered in class. There will be ten rehearsals:

 

1.        The modal argument for substance dualism (either the conceivability version or the essential property version)

2.        An argument against substance dualism (the problem of other minds, interaction, or explanatory impotence)

3.        The argument for physicalism

4.        Hempel’s dilemma

5.        An argument for the identity theory (Smart’s or Lewis’s)

6.        The argument for eliminativism

7.        The multiple-realizability argument  (either the conceptual version or the empirical version)

8.        An argument against functionalism (liberalism, Chinese room, or embodied mind)

9.        The argument for hylomorphism

10.     An argument of the student’s choice

 

Students are allowed to redraft rehearsals after receiving comments. They will be allowed to submit up to 3 drafts on the first rehearsal (the original, a redraft, and a second redraft), and they will be allowed to submit up to 2 drafts on the remaining rehearsals (the original plus a redraft).

 

Audience: The target audience for all formal writing in the course (rehearsals, papers, and exams) is the ideal reader: a college freshman who is intelligent and well-educated about all subject-matters except the subject-matter students are writing about. Rehearsals and papers are graded in terms of a single criterion: how well students present and evaluate the arguments.

 

Style: The style of much academic writing is very bad. As students learn to write academic prose, many take on the bad stylistic habits they see modeled in the academic prose they’re learning to read. Joseph M. Williams, author of a recommended book on style, explains: “[A]s a novice in a field reads its professional prose, he will predictably try to imitate those features of style that seem most prominently to bespeak membership, professional authority. And in complex professional prose, no feature of style is more typical than clumps of Latinate abstraction… What we should find astonishing is not that so many young writers write badly, but that any of them writes well” (Style, 13). Williams’ book on style is highly recommended for this course because it diagnoses many of the stylistic maladies that afflict academic writing, and teaches students how to avoid them.

 

Planning, Writing, and Revising: When students receive comments back from the professor they should have a printed copy of the Abbreviation Key for Comments ready to hand, and make use of Presenting Your Argument Clearly as needed. (Note that to see comments in the Word document the Tracking section under the Review tab must be set to Final: Show Markup.)

 

Electronic Submission: Students must use the following guidelines for submitting their rehearsals electronically. Rehearsals must be submitted in Microsoft Word format. Both your document and the subject line of your email must be titled in the following way: Last Name- Assignment Name- Draft Number. There are four assignment names: SD, Not-SD, Physicalism, Not-Physicalism. Here are some examples of correctly written document names: Jones- SD- Draft 1, Smith- Not-SD- Draft 3, Rivera- Not-Physicalism- Draft 2.

 

Research paper (written only – 1 draft) (50%): Research papers are formal writing assignments that require students to conduct independent research on a theory or argument relevant to the subject-matter of the course. Research papers are like rehearsals in several respects: they are on topics pertaining to the main theme of the course; they must have clear thesis statements, and they must have well-articulated arguments that support those statements. Here are some examples of clear thesis statements: “Hylomorphism is true”; “The multiple-realizability argument proves that the identity theory is false”; “The conceivability argument fails to prove that substance dualism is true”. Research papers nevertheless differ from rehearsals insofar as students choose the topic and conduct research on that topic independent of what is covered in class or the regularly assigned readings. Students start by familiarizing themselves with the discussion of their topic in the Philosophy of Mind text. They then go beyond the text in a combination of ways including (1) following up on the suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter, (2) consulting standard philosophical reference works such as the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (plato.stanford.edu/), the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (www.iep.utm.edu/), and the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (www.library.fordham.edu/database/philosophy.html), and finally (3) consulting professional books or articles on the topic which are either cited in the foregoing sources or cited in The Philosopher’s Index (www.library.fordham.edu/database/philosophy.html). Students must list their sources, and should use an author-date system for their references and in-text citations. (For details they can consult The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th Edition.)


 

 

Week

 

 

Topics

 

Reading Assignments

 

1

Introduction to mind-body theories, mind-body problems, and basic concepts in philosophyof mind

 

Philosophy of Mind (PM) 1.1-1.6, 2.1-2.5

Searle, ‘The Nature of Intentional States’. Chalmers, Selections from The Conscious Mind.

 

2

 

Substance dualism: arguments for and against it.

PM 3.1-3.2, 3.4-3.7

Descartes Meditations II and VI, and selections from Principles of Philosophy; Arnauld “from the Fourth Set of Objections”; Descartes “from the Fourth Replies”; Kripke “from Naming and Necessity” (excerpts from Lectures I and II). Aristotle De Anima I.3 (407b14-26); Ryle “Descartes’ Myth”; Gendler and Hawthorne, selections from ‘Introduction: Conceivability and Possibility’ (eRes).

 

3-5

The argument for physicalism Hempel’s dilemma,

The knowledge argument & qualia

PM 4.1-4.5, 4.6-4.8

Nagel “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?”; Jackson “Epiphenomenal Qualia”, “What Mary Didn’t Know”

 

6-8

Eliminative physicalism

Behaviorism

The identity theory

The multiple-realizability argument

Necessity, apriority, and reference

Classical Functionalism

PM Chapter 5, Section 6.1, Section 7.1-7.2

Churchland: ‘Eliminative Materialism…’; Hempel “The Logical Analysis of Psychology” (eRes); Putnam “Brains and Behavior”; Smart “Sensations and Brain Processes”; Lewis: ‘An Argument for the Identity Theory’; “Psychophysical and Theoretical Identifications”, “Mad Pain and Martian Pain”; Putnam “The Nature of Mental States”; Lewis “Review of Putnam”; Kim “Physicalism and the Multiple Realizability of Mental States”; Putnam “Philosophy and Our Mental Life”; Block “Troubles with Functionalism”; Searle “Minds, Brains and Programs”

 

9-11

The patchwork science movement

Externalism/Anti-Individualism

Teleological Functionalism

The liberalism objection

The Chinese room

Anomalous monism

Neutral Monism

Instrumentalism

PM Chapters 6, 7, 8, and Sections 9.4-9.6

Burge: “Other Bodies”; Dupré: selections from The Disorder of Things; Kim: ‘Multiple-Realizability and the Metaphysics of Reduction’; Putnam “The Meaning of ‘Meaning’”; Burge “Individualism and the Mental”; Lycan Consciousness, Ch 4; Sober “Putting the Function Back into Functionalism”. Fodor “Special Sciences, or the Disunity of Science as a Working Hypothesis”; Kim “The Myth of Nonreductive Physicalism”; Davidson “Mental events”; Dennett “True Believers: The Intentional Strategy and Why It Works”.

 

12-14

 

 

Dual-attribute theories: Emergentism and Epiphenomenalism 

Hylomorphism

PM Chapters 8, 10, 11

Chisholm, “Which Physical Thing Am I?”; Kim “Making Sense of Emergence”; McLaughlin “The Rise and Fall of British Emergentism; Searle The Rediscovery of the Mind, Chps 1,2,4,5; Kim “The Nonreductivist’s Troubles with Mental Causation”; Chalmers from The Conscious Mind. Aristotle Physics Bk I, Chs 7-8; Bk II, Chs 1-3; On the Soul Bk I Chs 1,2, 3(407b14-26), 4(408a18-b32), 5(all); Bk II, Chs 1-5, 12; Bk III(all); De Motu Animalium, 6-11; De Sensu 1-5; Post An. II.19; Metaphys Bk I; Bk VII, Chs 10-17; Bk VIII (all); Nicomachean Ethics Bk I, Ch 7; De Partibus Animalium I(selections), Bk II, Ch 1

 

 


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