Mind and Reality
Philosophy 355 Spring 2004 / Tim Black

Lecture Notes
     Lecture 1: Introduction to Metaphysics
     Lecture 2: Identity over Time and over Change of Composition
     Lecture 3: Qualitative Change and the Doctrine of Temporal Parts
     Lecture 4: Substantial Change and Spatiotemporal Coincidence
     Lecture 5: Personal Identity
     Lecture 6: Causes and Conditions
     Lecture 7: Event Causation and Agent Causation
     Lecture 8: Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind
     Lecture 9: Mind as Behavior: Behaviorism
     Lecture 10: Mind as the Brain: The Mind-Brain Identity Theory
     Lecture 11: Mind as a Computer: Machine Functionalism
     Lecture 12: Mind as a Causal Structure: Causal Theoretical Functionalism
     Lecture 13: Mental Causation/Consciousness
     Lecture 14: Reductive and Nonreductive Physicalism

AIMS OF THE COURSE:  This course features an examination of some leading contemporary views in metaphysics and the philosophy of mind.  Metaphysics seeks answers to questions about fundamental relationships such as identity and causation.  In our discussion of metaphysics, we will focus on questions that have some bearing on issues in the philosophy of mind. We will, for example, consider questions like the following: In virtue of what is some past or future creature you?  What does it mean for one event to be the cause of another?  After addressing these questions, we will turn our attention to questions about the nature of the mind.  We will consider, among others, questions like: What are minds?  Do mental phenomena (such as beliefs and desires) influence physical behavior; and if so, how?

  • Kim, Jaegwon.  Philosophy of Mind (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1998)
  • Lowe, E. J.  A Survey of Metaphysics (OxfordOxford University Press, 2002)

Your final grade in the course will be based on the following:
  • 28%: Shorter Paper 1, due February 25
  • 30%: Shorter Paper 2, due March 24
  • 42%: Longer Paper, due in three parts: (1) Proposal, due April 14; (2) First version, due April 28; (3) Second version, due May 19
GRADES: I will use the plus/minus grading system.  Letter grades are assigned according to the following system:
  • 100-92% = A
  • 91-90% = A-
  • 89-87% = B+
  • 86-83% = B
  • 82-80% = B-
  • 79-77% = C+
  • 76-73% = C
  • 72-70% = C-
  • 69-67% = D+
  • 66-63% = D
  • 62-60% = D-
  • 59-0% = F
If your final grade falls just short of some higher grade, I will consider the quality of your participation as grounds for improving your final grade.  I strongly encourage your participation, which can come in class, during office hours, by phone, or by e-mail.

CHEATING AND PLAGIARISM:  I consider academic dishonesty a very serious issue.  If you are unclear about what constitutes academic dishonesty or about the possible repercussions of and penalties for acts of academic dishonesty, please consult the California State University, Northridge Student Conduct Code.

SHORTER PAPERS: Each shorter paper assignment requires you to write an essay of 1200-1600 words (or about 3-4 pages).  The shorter papers are due as indicated on the Schedule.  I will distribute each topic, as well as details about each assignment, well before its deadline.

LONGER PAPER:  The longer paper assignment requires you to write an essay of 3000-4000 words (or about 7-10 pages).  I will at some point distribute three or four paper topics, and you may write on any one of those topics.  (If you choose to write on a different topic—that is, on a topic other than those that I propose—you must submit a paper proposal on April 14th.) The first version of your paper is due on April 28th.  I will take a look at these papers and return them to you.  You will then revise your paper and submit a second version no later than7:00 p.m.19 May 2004.  I will accept no paper submitted later than this.  I will evaluate your longer paper, as well as the shorter ones, on the basis of the quality of the arguments you provide in favor of your position.  More specifically, your paper and essays (a) must be well organized and readable, (b) must demonstrate your ability to clearly and critically consider a serious philosophical issue, (c) must demonstrate your ability to present and defend your own reasonable and persuasive philosophical argument, and (d) must demonstrate your ability to critically evaluate philosophical arguments.

  • February 4: Course introduction & Introduction to Metaphysics; Lowe, Chapter 1
  • February 11: Identity over time and change of composition; Lowe, Chapter 2
  • February 18: Qualitative change and the doctrine of temporal parts; Lowe, Chapter 3
  • February 25: Substantial change and spatiotemporal coincidence; Lowe, Chapter 4; Shorter Paper 1 is due
  • March 3: Personal Identity; Eric T. Olson’s “Personal Identity”
  • March 10: Causes and conditions; Lowe, Chapter 9 (and maybe (parts of) Chapter 10)
  • March 17: Event causation and agent causation; Lowe, Chapter 11
  • March 24: Introduction to the philosophy of mind; Kim, Chapter 1; Shorter Paper 2 is due
  • April 14: Mind as behavior: Behaviorism; Kim, Chapter 2; Proposal for Longer Paper is due
  • April 21: Mind as the brain: The mind-brain identity theory; Kim, Chapter 3
  • April 28: Mind as a computer: Machine functionalism; Kim, Chapter 4; First version of Longer Paper is due;
  • May 5: Mind as a causal structure: Causal-theoretical functionalism; Kim, Chapter 5
  • May 12: Mental causation/Consciousness; Kim, Chapters 6-7
  • May 19: Reductive and nonreductive physicalism; Kim, Chapter 9; Second version of Longer Paper is due