PHIL 272b: TTh 2:30pm-3:45pm in 217A Hall of Graduate Studies (HGS)
Yale University
Spring 2006

Instructor: James Woodbridge
email address:
Course Webpage:
Office Hours: TTh 4pm-5:30pm, and by appointment
Office: 406B Connecticut Hall
Office Phone: 432-1683
Dept. Phone: 432-1686


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.



Crumley, Jack S. (ed.) Problems in Mind. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing, 2000.

The book for the course is available at Labyrinth Books located at 290 York Street.
There will also be a few photocopied and some on-line reading selections.
(The book and photocopies will be on reserve at the Cross Campus Library.)


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. However, while attendance is necessary for participation, it is not sufficient. To do well on this front you must do more than just show up; you have to contribute to class discussion. You are expected to arrive having read the assignment for the day and ready to talk about it. Another aspect of class participation concerns the Electronic Discussion Board available on the course's Classes*v2 site. Everyone must make six postings on the EDB during the course of the term: three before Spring Break and three after the break.

The First Paper--There will be a 5-7 page paper due in mid/late February. Topics will be distributed 12 days 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 as described on the Papers Requirements and Policies handout.

The Second Paper--There will be a second 5-7 page paper due in mid April. Again, topics will be handed out 12 days before the paper is due, and all papers are due at the beginning of class on the due date.

The Final Exam--There will be a final exam given during the scheduled time for the class. The exam will cover the whole course and will consist of short essays and a long essay based on the readings and lectures.


The class will be a mixture of lecture and discussion, and I want to encourage discussion. I expect you all to show up having read the assignment for that meeting and ready to use it as a point of departure. 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.


Most of the readings for the course are from the Crumley anthology. Readings from this books are indicated by author, selection title, and "PM" followed by page numbers in parentheses. In addition, there are a few readings from additional sources (listed by author and title, and labeled "photocopy"). These will be available for duplication at the Reserve Desk in the Library.

A note about the readings: Philosophical writing is often subtle and difficult. Do not be fooled by the shortness of an assignment into thinking that it will take little time. Most of these readings should be read at least twice. I recommend a first time straight through and then a second time slowly while taking notes.

The course units and readings for them are as follows.

1. Dualism

Descartes, Rene. Meditations on First Philosophy, II and VI (PM 21-33).
Plantinga, Alvin. "Could Socrates Have Been an Alligator?" (PM 34-36).
Jacquett, Dale. "Dualisms of Mental and Physical Phenomena" (PM 37-43).
Foster, John. "A Defense of Dualism" (PM 513-527).

2. Mind-Brain Identity Theory

Smart, J.J.C. "Sensations and Brain Processes" (PM 81-90).
Shaffer, Jerome. "Mental Events and the Brain" (PM 91-94).
Kripke, Saul. Lecture III from Naming and Necessity (PM 95-101).

3. Behaviorism

Skinner, B.F. from About Behaviorism (PM 59-67).
Dennett, Daniel. "Skinner Skinned" (PM 68-80).

4. Functionalism

Fodor, Jerry. "The Mind-Body Problem" (PM 118-129)
Putnam, Hilary. "The Nature of Mental States" (PM 102-109)
Lewis, David. "Mad Pain and Martian Pain" (PM 110-117)
Block, Ned. "Troubles with Functionalism" (PM 130-162)
Churchland, Paul and Patricia. "Functionalism, Qualia, and Intentionality" (PM 163-177)

5. Artificial Intelligence

Turing, Alan. "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" (on-line)
Searle, John. "Can Computers Think?" (PM 372-378)
Boden, Margaret. "Escaping from the Chinese Room" (PM 379-388)
Dennett, Daniel. "The Myth of Original Intentionality" (PM 389-400)

6. Folk Psychology

Churchland, Paul. "Eliminative Materialism and the Propositional Attitudes" (PM 184-197).
Horgan, Terrence and Woodward, James. "Folk Psychology Is Here to Stay" (PM 198-214).
Fodor, Jerry. "Introduction: The Persistence of the Attitudes" (PM 251-266).
Dannett, Daniel. "True Believers: The Intentional Strategy and Why It Works" (PM 226-242).

7. Anomalous Monism and Mental Causation

Davidson, Donald. "Mental Events" (PM 430-442).
Davidson, Donald. "Psychology as Philosophy" (photocopy).
Fodor, Jerry. "Making Mind Matter More" (PM 474-488).
Kim, Jaegwon. "The Myth of Nonreductive Materialism" (PM 452-464).

8. Qualia and Consciousness

Nagel, Thomas. "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" (PM 534-542)
Jackson, Frank. "Epiphenomenal Qualia" (PM 556-563)
Churchland, Paul. "Reduction, Qualia, and the Direct Introspection of Brain States"
       (PM 564-576)
Jackson, Frank. "What Mary Didn't Know" (PM 577-580)
Chalmers, David. "Can Consciousness Be Reductively Explained?" (PM 588-598)