Tuesdays and Thursdays 2:50pm-4:05pm in 721 Main Building
New York University
Fall 1999

Instructor: James Woodbridge
email address:
Course Webpage:
or use the link from the Philosophy Dept. Webpage
Office Hours: Th 4:10pm-6:10pm
Office: Main Building 503H
Office Phone: 998-3546
Dept. Phone: 998-8320


This is a course in the philosophy of mind. Philosophy of mind is not psychology, but the disciplines are connected. Roughly, we can think of psychology as the study of how the mind operates (especially in the production of behavior) and how its operation can be influenced. Philosophy of mind seeks a different sort of understanding of the mind; it investigates what the mind is and how its nature lets it operate as psychology says it does. (Philosophy of psychology is related but is ambiguous between the study of conceptual issues in psychology and an investigation of the status of psychology.) What minds are, and how they fit into a world that science tells us is composed of unthinking matter, is one of the greatest mysteries there is--one that has not yet been unraveled. Furthermore, it is a very personal mystery, for, insofar as you conceive of yourself as a person, you conceive of yourself as an intelligent creature capable of rational action, that is, as a thing with a mind capable of thinking and feeling. Our understanding of the nature of mind is central to our understanding of ourselves, of what it is to be a human being or a person.

In this course we will study the nature of mind. We will learn what positions on the subject are available, and we will examine their problems and prospects. Throughout, we will consider what issues the philosopher of mind must face in his or her attempt to understand the mind.


Descartes, René. Meditations on First Philosophy (Third Edition). Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993.
Kim, Jaegwon. Philosophy of Mind. Boulder: Westview Press, 1996.

The books for the course are available at Posman Books located at One University Place.
(They are also on reserve at the Library.)

Additional Readings:
There are also a number of additional readings that will be required throughout the term. Most of these are available electronically through the Course Webpage. Anything not on-line will be available under my last name at New University Copies located at 11 Waverly Place.


Requirements.............................................Percent of Final Grade

Class Participation.....................................................10%
First Paper.................................................................30%
Second Paper.............................................................30%
Final Exam.................................................................30%

About the Requirements:

Class Participation--One thing this requirement covers is your class attendance (if you don't attend class you can't participate in it). However, to get an "A" for class participation you must do more than just show up; you have to contribute to class discussion. You are expected to show up having read the assignment for the day and ready to talk about it.

The First Paper--There will be a 6-10 page paper due around the end of October. Topics will be distributed about 2 weeks before the paper is due. Papers are due at the beginning of class on the due date. Late papers are subject to a substantial grade reduction (you really don't want to find out how much).

The Second Paper--There will be a second 6-10 page paper due around the beginning of December. Again, topics will be handed out about 2 weeks before the paper is due, and all papers are due at the beginning of class on the due date. Late submission is still not a good idea.

The Final Exam--There will be a cumulative final exam given in class on our last meeting, Thursday, December 9th. The exam will consist of short answer questions and essay questions.


The class will be a mixture of lecture and discussion, and I want to encourage discussion. I hope that you will all have views about the topics we will address, and I want you to express and explore those views. It is the nature of the issues we will be considering that people's views will differ. You are encouraged to question your classmates (and me) when anyone says something you disagree with, but everyone should always keep in mind that disagreement is not a personal attack. Philosophical discussion thrives under this kind of interaction and often stems from disagreement. At the same time, philosophical discussion aims at reaching some sort of agreement. We probably won't reach agreement every time, but we should aspire toward it.


Readings from the Kim book are listed by a "K" followed by the chapter number (e.g., K3). Page numbers are added when only some of a chapter is assigned. On-line readings are marked with an asterisk (*). Readings marked "suggested" are not required, but might be useful for paper assignments.

The course will cover topics presented in seven units. Those units and the readings for them are as follows.

1. Dualism

Descartes, Meditations on First Philosophy (1, 2, and 6). 1641*
K1 and K6, pp. 125-132

2. Behaviorism

Armstrong, David. "The Nature of Mind." 1980

3. Type-Type Identity Theory and Reduction

K3 and K9, pp. 211-221
Nagel, Thomas. "What is it like to be a Bat?" 1974*

4. Functionalism and Supervenience

Turing, Alan. "Computing Machinery and Intelligence." 1950* (suggested)
Searle, John. "Minds, Brains, and Programs." 1991* (suggested)
Block, Ned. "Functionalism." 1998*
Block, "Troubles with Functionalism." 1978
Marr, David. Vision, Ch. 1. 1980 (suggested)
K9, pp. 221-226
Chalmers, David. The Conscious Mind, Ch. 2. 1996*

5. Eliminative Materialism and Connectionism

Churchland, Paul. "Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes." 1981
Bechtel, William. "Connectionism and the Philosophy of Mind: An Overview." 1987
Garson, James. "Connectionism." 1997* (suggested)

6. Anomalous Monism and Mental Causation

K6, pp. 132-139, 147-152 and K9, pp. 226-237
Davidson, Donald. "Mental Events." 1970
Davidson, "Psychology as Philosophy." 1974 (suggested)

7. Qualia and Consciousness

Chalmers, "Facing Up to the Problem of Consciousness."*
Chalmers, The Conscious Mind, Ch. 3 and 4*
Dennett, Daniel. "Quining Qualia." 1988*