Philosophy 30304: Gateway seminar: Consciousness
Course description Syllabus
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Date Topic Reading Assignments
Tu 8/21 Introduction to the course Chalmers, "Facing up to the problem of consciousness"
Are conscious states just physical states?
Th 8/23 Descartes' argument for dualism; Elisabeth's objections Descartes, Meditations (selections)
Correspondence between Descartes and Elisabeth
Tu 8/28 Ryle's behaviorist view of the mind; some objections to behaviorism Ryle, "Descartes' myth"
Putnam, "Brains and behavior"
Th 8/30 Identity theory Smart, "Sensations and brain processes"
Tu 9/4 & Tu 9/11 Multiple realizability and functionalism Putnam, "The nature of mental states" (excerpt)
extra readings
Th 9/6 [class canceled]
Th 9/13 The Frege-Russell picture of names; essentialism and rigid designation; the contingent a priori Kripke, Naming and Necessity, Lecture I
extra readings
Tu 9/18 Kripke's argument against descriptivism; Kripke's new picture of reference; Identity sentences and the necessary a posteriori Kripke, Naming and Necessity, Lecture II
Th 9/20, Tu 9/25, & 9/27 Essentialism and the necessary a posteriori; theoretical identities; Kripke's Cartesian argument against materialism Kripke, Naming and Necessity, Lecture III Paper #1 due
Tu 10/2 Functionalism, liberalism, and chauvinism; the inverted spectrum Block, "Troubles with functionalism"
Tye, "The problem of the inverted spectrum"
Th 10/4 The knowledge argument; objections to the knowledge argument Jackson, "Epiphenomenal qualia"
Gertler, "The knowledge argument"
Tu 10/9 Representational theories of consciousness Tye, "What what it's like is really like"
Block, "Is experiencing just representing?"
extra readings
Th 10/11 Varieties of materialism; the two-dimensional argument against type B materialism Chalmers, "Consciousness and its place in nature" (§§ 1-7)
extra readings
Fall break
If conscious states are not physical states, what could they be?
Tu 10/23 Varieties of dualism Chalmers, "Consciousness and its place in nature" (§§ 8-12)
Th 10/25 Russellian monism Chalmers, "Panpsychism and panprotopsychism"
Tu 10/30 Berkeley's idealism Berkeley, Dialogues (selections) Paper #2 due
Consciousness and personal identity
Th 11/1 The case for substance dualism Plantinga, "Against materialism"
Tu 11/6, Th 11/8, Tu 11/13 Parfit's project; reductionism vs. non-reductionism; divided selves and what matters Parfit, "What we believe ourselves to be," "How we are not what we believe," "Why our identity is not what matters," "What does matter"
Consciousness and value
Th 11/15 Hedonism Bentham, Principles (excerpt)
Nozick, "The experience machine"
Moore, Principia Ethica (excerpt)
Tu 11/20 Well-being Parfit, "What makes someone's life go best?" Paper #3 due
Thanksgiving break
Tu 11/27 Moral realism vs. materialism Cutter, "Substantive Questions and the Irreducibility of Consciousness"
Could computers or robots be conscious?
Th 11/29 The Chinese room argument; incompleteness and strong A.I. Searle, "Minds, brains, and programs"
Lucas, "Minds, machines, and Godel" (excerpt)
Tu 12/4 A defense of the possibility of strong A.I. Chalmers, "Absent Qualia, Fading Qualia, Dancing Qualia"
Th 12/6 Should we be afraid of artificial intelligence? Chalmers, "The singularity: a philosophical analysis" (excerpt)
M 12/10 Final paper due