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Introduction to Philosophy of Mind

During the Fall, 2013 Quarter I will be a teaching assistant in Philosophy 7: Introduction to Philosophy of Mind at UCLA.  Here, I will post links to material that I think students in the course might find helpful or that provide interesting perspectives on things we go over in discussion sections.  None of these materials are required for this course -- I simply think that they may help explain concepts better or show how issues from class and discussion section are treated by philosophers and others.


Office Hours: Monday: 2:30-3:30; Thursday: 11:00-12:00 in Dodd 395, or by appointment

Second Assignment Due Date

Friday (10/25/13) by 9:00 a.m. by email.


The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry that explains the dualism theory of the mind and should be a useful guide to arguments that Descartes presents as well as the arguments against dualism.

Links to Descartes Readings

Several students have contacted me because they have had difficulties accessing the Descartes readings.  Accordingly, here are some links to find versions of Descartes' work in case you are also having trouble with the links on the course webpage

For the meditations, go here.  For the objections and replies, go here.

Criticism of Cartesian Interactionist Dualism

Daniel Dennett - Excerpt from Consciousness Explained
Starting at Section 4 ("Why Dualism is Forlorn"), Dennett lists a number of objections to Cartesian dualism arising from physical laws.  Some of these arguments are the ones covered in our lecture, others are different, but based on the same general ideas.


The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's entry for behaviorism, detailing the various types of materialism and arguments for and against each theory.

Is Your Red the Same as My Red?
An interesting video that talks about the possibility of people perceiving things like color differently and some other interesting mind issues.  We will talk about a lot of these issues as the course progresses, but in the meantime this is a good roadmap for some of the other problems we may need to deal with, and it also does a good job of explaining what may motivate philosophers like Ryle to argue the way they do (see especially the discussion that culminates in the conclusion "We are all alone in our own minds" at around the two-minute mark).


The Mind/Brain Identity Theory
Discussion of the theory, arguments for and against it, and bibliography for further reading from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Eavesdropping on the Brain
A very interesting post about reconstructing what people see based on fMRI scans of their brain while they are viewing videos of those images.

XKCD on Reductionism
A humorous take on the theory of reductionism that Fodor is challenging


Building Computer Brains That Can Think Like Humans
A story on the development of computer chips that are built to mirror the capacity of human brains.

Computer Uses Images to Teach Itself Common Sense
I think the headline overstates the story a bit, but this is an interesting article on how researchers are trying to get a computer to draw inferences by having it look over a vast number of images.


Is it OK to Torture or Murder a Robot?
BBC article on popular and psychological reactions to treatment of robots that simulates harm, torture, and murder.  The sympathy and empathy that people have towards machines that we would probably agree do not have mind could have interesting implications for our treatment of more complex machines which, under certain functionalist theories, might have minds.

Daniel Dennett, Where am I?:
This is an interesting paper on the quandaries a philosopher of mind faces when his brain is separated from his body.  Dennett's discussion is largely told in the form of a story and is humorous and approachable.  The paper gets into the

The Volokh Conspiracy: Bryant Walker Smith on Automated Technologies and their Regulation

Introductory post here; See also: The Reasonable Self-Driving Car
Bryant Walker Smith is an authority on automation the regulation of new technology.  His posts will hopefully explore some of the ethical issues that accompany the development of this technology.

Further posts on automation from the Volokh Conspiracy include:
The Plight of Star Wars Droids: Examining the poor treatment that droids in George Lucas's Star Wars environment undergo
An Ethical Turing Test?: Issues of programming ethics into autonomous robots.

The Intersection of Philosophy of Mind and Law

Minds, Brains, and Law: The Conceptual Foundations of Law and Neuroscience
This is the introduction and table of contents of a forthcoming book that describes how questions of mind overlap with many questions of law.

What Can Have a Mind?

Dogs Are People, Too
Very interesting New York Times editorial about brain activity in dogs -- researchers put the dogs into MRI scanners, note the brain activity, and draw inferences from these results.

Did Socrates Commit Suicide?

Michael Smith, Did Socrates Kill Himself Intentionally? (55 Philosophy 253 (1980))
Professor Struble mentioned that Socrates wandered around talking to people, and recommended that you talk with others when drafting your papers.  At the end of this point, however, Professor Struble mentioned that Socrates "committed suicide," which is a matter of dispute that this short piece explores.

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