Phil 255: Syllabus


Course Title: Philosophy of Mind (PHIL 255)
Instructor: Chris Eliasmith (, HH 331, x2638)
Room and Time: AL 208, TTh 4-5:20
Texts: Readings in Philosophy of Mind by UW Courseware. (Largely excerpts from Lyons, W. (Ed.) (1995). Modern Philosophy of Mind. London, UK, Everyman (MPM))
  Lyons, W. (2001) Matters of the Mind. Routledge. (MM)

Course Description: This is a survey course intended to introduce the student to contemporary philosophical approaches to traditional problems in the philosophy of mind. Readings for this course include classic papers outlining influential positions in philosophy of mind in the 20th century. We will situate and discuss introspectionism, psychological and logical behaviorism, identity theory, functionalism, subjectivism, instrumentalism, computationalism, eliminative materialism, and new mysterianism. Areas of study include the philosophy of psychology, sensation and perception, concepts, intentionality, folk-psychology, and consciousness.






Jan 8

MM Chp 1

Descartes to Early Psychology


James, 1892, Stream of consciousness (MPM)

Critique of Introspectionism


Optional: MPM, Introduction



Jan 15

Watson, 1913, Psychology as the behaviorist views it. (MPM)

Psychological behaviourism


MM Chp 2 pp. 37-45

Philosophical behaviourism

Jan 22

Ryle, 1958, A puzzling element in the notion of thinking. (MPM). 94, 96-99,103-105

Behaviourism and language

  MM Chp 2 pp. 59-78 Problems for behaviourism

Identity Theory

Jan 29

Place, 1958, Is consciousness a brain process? (MPM)

Neural states and perceptual states


MM Chp 3, p. 79-121

Identity theory


Feb 5

Putnam, 1973, Philosophy and our mental life. (MPM)

MM Chp 4 pp. 129-155

Functionalist thesis


Searle, 1980, Minds, brains, and programs.

MM Chp 4 pp. 156-174

The Chinese room

Feb 12
Fodor, 1987, The persistence of the attitudes. (MPM) Eliminativism and propositional attitudes
Feb 14
  Test (30%)

Folk Psychology

Feb 26

Churchland, 1981, Eliminative materialism and the propositional attitudes. (MPM)

Essay Topics
Feb 28

Intentionality and Cause

Mar 4



Mar 6

Dennett, 1971, Intentional systems. (MPM)
Davidson, 1971, Psychology as philosophy. (MPM)

Anomalous monism

Mar 11
Cancelled (Campus Day needs the room) CANCELLED

Mar 13

Armstrong, 1968, The causal theory of mind. (MPM)



Mar 18

Nagel, 1974, What is it like to be a bat? (MPM)


  MM Chp 5 pp. 175-188  

Mar 25

McGinn, 1989, Can we solve the mind-body problem? (MPM)

New mysterianism


MM Chp 5 pp. 189-207

Final Essays (35%)

Apr 1
MM Chp 6 Conclusion
Apr 3
  Final Test (25%)

Grading: The course requires the writing of one midterm exam worth 30%, a final essay worth 35%, a final test worth 25%, and in-class essays worth 10%. The in-class essays will be written every class, be worth .5% each, and marked pass/fail.

NB: There will be no penalty for handing the essay in on or before March 27th. After that, see the late policy.

Fees: There might be a small photocopying fee for any notes handed out during the term (excluding assignments, tests, exams, etc.).

Note on avoidance of academic offenses: All students registered in the courses of the Faculty of Arts are expected to know what constitutes academic integrity, to avoid committing academic offences, and to take responsibility for their actions. When the commission of an offence is established, disciplinary penalties will be imposed in accord with Policy #71 (Student Academic Discipline). For information on categories of offences and types of penalties, students are directed to consult the summary of Policy #71 which is supplied in the Undergraduate Calendar (section 1; on the Web at If you need help in learning what constitutes an academic offence; how to avoid offences such as plagiarism, cheating, and double submission; how to follow appropriate rules with respect to “group work” and collaboration; or if you need clarification of aspects of the discipline policy, ask your TA and/or your course instructor for guidance. Other resources regarding the discipline policy are your academic advisor and the Undergraduate Associate Dean. Students who believe that they have been wrongfully or unjustly penalized have the right to grieve; refer to Policy #70, Student Grievance,