Course Outline

Philosophy of Mind





   Teaching Staff    Course  Description    Lectures    Tutorials
   Text    Assessment    Advice    Assistance




Name:                     Dr Stephen Watson

Room:                     1_ 4 _47

Phone:                    no              


Consultation:        Wednesday 3-4pm


Note: please enter the subject heading ‘PHIL12-210’ in all email correspondence.





Course Overview


This subject is concerned with the nature of consciousness, the relationship between mind and body, perception, deliberation and choice. Questions considered include: Is the mind to be identified with the brain? Is it possible to explain thought and consciousness in physical terms? Can machines think, or be the subjects of conscious experiences? How can we know what the conscious experiences of other sentient beings are like? 


On completion of this unit each student is expected to have:

  • Examined some of the central issues in the philosophy of mind as these arise in selected texts from classical, modern or contemporary philosophers.

  • Critically considered contemporary discussions of these issues;

  • Refined his/her skills in philosophical discourse and inquiry.













Lectures commence in Week 1 of semester. Lecture notes will be made available through the course homepage each week.  


We miss out on a lecture in week 9 because of ANZAC day. I believe the custom is to make up the missed lecture during study break. We shall see.





Attendance at tutorials is compulsory. Tutorials commence in the second week of semester:











Discussion and debate are important aspects of philosophical inquiry. Tutorials are designed to give you the opportunity to discuss and work through lecture material in a more relaxed and personal environment. Tutorial Participation will be graded (10% of overall mark). This reflects the value placed on these important opportunities to pursue course material in greater depth, to see philosophy "being done" by dialogue with your tutors and fellow students, and to find out more about areas of the course that you find unclear or which seem interesting to you. Remember, tutorials are your chance to use teaching staff as your own resource and you are strongly advised to make use of the opportunity. Verbal skills are an important aspect of university education, and tutorial discussion provides a good opportunity for developing them.





There is no set text for this course as yet. I may put together a book of readings in the first week.


The following texts may prove useful on various topics that we may consider.


Aristotle. (l987). De Anima. tr. Lawson, H. Tancred, Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Aristotle. (1976). Ethics. Book 3. Trans Thomson, J.A.K. & rev. Tredennick, H. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Churchland, P.M. (1984). Matter and Consciousness. Rev Ed, Cambridge Mass: MIT Press.

Descartes, R. (1986). Meditations on First Philosophy. Trans Cottingham, J. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Geach, P. (1969). God and the Soul. London: Routledge.

Glover, J. (1990). I: The Philosophy and Psychology of Personal Identity. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Hartman, E. (1977). Substance, Body and Soul. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton           University Press.

Hofstadter D. R., and Dennett, D. C. (eds) (1982). The Mind’s I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Hume, D. (1984). A Treatise of Human Nature. ed. Mossner, E.C. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Kenny, A. (1979). Aristotle's Theory of the Will. London: Duckworth.

Kenny, A. (1989). The Metaphysics of Mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Kim, J. (1996). Philosophy of Mind. Boulder, CO: Westview

Kripke, S. (1980). Naming and Necessity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

Lear, J. (1988). Aristotle: the Desire to Understand. New York: Cambridge University Press.

McDonald, C. (1989). Mind-Body Identity Theories. London: Routledge.

McGinn, C. (1989). Mental Content. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Millikan, R. G. (1984) Language, Thought, and Other Biological Categories. Cambridge:MIT Press.

Plato (1954). The Last Days of Socrates. Trans Tredennick, H. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Rosenthal, D. M. (ed) (1991). The Nature of Mind. New York: Oxford University Press.

Ryle, G. (1964). The Concept of Mind. Harmondsworth: Penguin.

Sacks, O. (1999). Awakenings. New York: Vintage Books.

Smith, P. & Jones, O.R. (1986). The Philosophy of Mind: An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Sterelny, K. (1990). The Representational Theory of Mind. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.

Stroud, B. (1981). Hume. London: Routledge.

Watson, G. (ed.). (1982). Free Will. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Wittgenstein, L. (1953). Philosophical Investigations. Oxford: Blackwell.


Many students have also found the following book very helpful both for writing essays and for approaching the subject of philosophy generally:


Seech, Zachary, Writing Philosophy Papers. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth.





In addition to the expected continuing attendance of lectures and tutorials you will be required to complete the following assessment:


·         Tutorial Participation:          10%

·         Essay1:                                   35%

·         Essay2:                                   35% 

·         Presentation:                          20% 


Essay1 will be due 02/03/2009, 11:55pm. 


You are asked to write a 2500 word essay addressing one of the topics set by the lecturer. The topics will be available 2 weeks before the due date from the course assessments page.


Essay2 will be due 13/04/2009, 11:5 5pm. 


You are asked to write a 2500 word essay addressing one of the topics set by the lecturer. The topics will be available 2 weeks before the due date from the course assessments page.




You are asked to make a presentation to the class during the tutorial time and to lead the class in the discussion which follows. The topics for the presentation are to be nominated by you and cleared with the lecturer.




Extensions on due dates for essay assignments or the take-home exam are only permitted if you have a legitimate reason (e.g. illness, etc.). If you cannot submit an assignment by the due date, you should consult the course coordinator immediately concerning the possibility of an extension. You should not ask for an extension after the essay is due as it will not be given, except where you were physically incapable of making a phone call before the essay is due. Evidence of your illness etc. will be required. Conflicts with assessment for other courses, computer failures and work constraints are not sufficient grounds for being awarded an extension. Late papers may receive a grade reduction, and the later it is the more it will be penalised. After an assessment task has been submitted for assessment, there shall be no provision for a student to improve her/his academic standing in the unit by resubmitting work or attempting to improve the quality of the submission.



Students should read the relevant sections in the Faculty Handbook regarding such issues as plagiarism, collusion, extensions and penalties for late submission of assignments.


Plagiarism is an academic offence and will be penalized. 


The University accepts the following definition of plagiarism:


"Plagiarism is the action or practice of taking and using as one's own the thoughts or writings of another, without acknowledgment."


The following practices constitute acts of plagiarism and are a major infringement of the University's academic values:


  • Where paragraphs, sentences, a single sentence or significant parts of a sentence are copied directly, and are not enclosed in quotation marks and appropriately footnoted;

  • Where direct quotations are not used, but are paraphrased or summarised, and the source of the material is not acknowledged either by footnoting or other simple reference within the text of the paper; and

  • Where an idea which appears elsewhere in printed, electronic or audio-visual material is used or developed without reference being made to the author or the source of that material."

Plagiarism carries strict penalties which could result in a student's being expelled from University. 


Occurrences of plagiarism in this course will result in a formal complaint being lodged by the lecturer with the University against the student.


General Assessment Criteria and Policies


Students are responsible for familiarizing themselves with School policy regarding assessment. Students should also consult the School's Manual of Style for Essay Writing regarding technical questions in the producing and presentation of their essays. Useful information may also be found on the UQ Cybrary web-page under "Advice & Training - UseIts".


Mid-term essays, take-home exams and final grades are marked according to the University’s seven point system:


Assessment Guide 


Students may find the following list of elements which are taken into account in the assessment of papers and essays helpful.



  • Accurate exposition of material; 

  • Discussion of key issues/relevance of  facts; 

  • Logical development of argument;

  • Depth and complexity of philosophical argument; 

  • Evidence of creative philosophical thought/articulation of own ideas.


  • Essay contains Introduction and conclusion; 

  • Paragraphs are linked;

  •  Consistent thread of argument; 

  • Fluent writing; 

  • Succinct writing


  • Accurate spelling, 

  • grammatical sentences, 

  • correct punctuation


  • neatness, 

  • legibility, 

  • layout, 

  • general appearance)


  • correct citation, 

  • adequate acknowledgement of sources, 

  • consistent use of referencing style



       Make sure that a bibliography is provided. This should contain those books which were actually consulted in the writing of the paper. It should show a consistent referencing style.




It should be noted that assignments which are too short (i.e. more than 25% less than the required number of words) are unlikely to pass.




Grades for the unit will reflect the following standards:

NN (<50):            A fail grade. Work does not reach the minimum requirements.


PA (50-64):          A Pass grade. 

  1. work reveals a minimum acceptable level of knowledge of the major content areas and issues;

  2. work demonstrates a minimum acceptable understanding of key concepts;

  3. work demonstrates a minimum acceptable capacity to apply modes of presentation appropriate to the discipline.

CR (65-74):          A Credit grade. Work satisfies the standards for a grade of PA and in addition:

  1. demonstrates a higher level of knowledge of the major content areas and issues;

  2. demonstrates an ability to integrate and apply key concepts;

  3. demonstrates a sustained capacity to apply modes of presentation appropriate to the discipline.

DI (75-84):             Distinction. Work satisfies the standards for a grade of CR and in addition:

  1. demonstrates an extensive knowledge of the major content areas and issues;

  2. demonstrates a capacity for sustained critical evaluation of key concepts.

HD (≥85):                High Distinction. Work satisfies the standards for a grade of DI and in addition:  

  1. demonstrates a high level of sustained argument, 

  2. demonstrates a high level of critical thought and

  3. demonstrates creativity.

Students should note that scaling processes may be used to normalise raw marks.


See Information on how to write a philosophy essay. I find this to be an extremely useful site for the beginning philosopher. It contains a number of sites helping students grasp philosophical writing techniques as well as on-line dictionaries and encyclopaedias of philosophy.


Graduate Attributes and Skills Relevant to this Course


Communication: Logical reasoning and conceptual clarification will be central to the approach in the course. The ability to convey ideas and information clearly and fluently, both in written and spoken form will be fostered through the written assignments and tutorial discussions.


Computer Literacy: Basic relevant web skills will be used for information retrieval. The ability to use computers for presentation will also be fostered by the requirement for properly presented assignments.


Critical Thinking: The ability to identify issues, think independently, apply critical reasoning and make informed judgments will be constantly developed during the presentation of the lectures and in tutorials.


Problem-Solving: The ability to identify, define and analyse problems, evaluate opinions, and link skills of philosophical reflection to the contemporary world will be emphasized throughout the subject through the structure of the lecture material and tutorial work.


Scholarship: Experience in the scholarship process through which knowledge is gained and disseminated will be gained through the systematic study of the readings and web material.





Students are advised to read the material set down for the course, attend all lectures, and participate actively in tutorials. If you apply yourselves to the task on a week-by-week basis (avoiding cramming) then you are most likely to do well and enjoy the course more.


If you feel you would benefit from reading around more you might consult philosophy websites and additional materials in the library. A number of readers and additional source material will be made available in the high-use area of the library.





It is recommended that students who have life circumstances or personal concerns that may affect their attendance and /or course of study inform their lecturer as early as possible. Students are encouraged to contact the Academic Study Skills Advisor if they wish to obtain assistance with study skills. The campus Counsellor, Disability Officer and Chaplain are also available for students.