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Drayson, Zoe, , . Extended cognition and the metaphysics of mind
2010, Cognitive Systems Research 11 (4):367-377.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Juan R. Loaiza

Abstract: This paper explores the relationship between several ideas about the mind and cognition. The hypothesis of extended cognition claims that cognitive processes can and do extend outside the head, that elements of the world around us can actually become parts of our cognitive systems. It has recently been suggested that the hypothesis of extended cognition is entailed by one of the foremost philosophical positions on the nature of the mind: functionalism, the thesis that mental states are defined by their functional relations rather than by their physical constituents. Furthermore, it has been claimed that functionalism entails a version of extended cognition which is sufficiently radical as to be obviously false. I survey the debate and propose several ways of avoiding this conclusion, emphasizing the importance of distinguishing the hypothesis of extended cognition from the related notion of the extended mind.

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Kind, Amy, , . Chalmers’ zombie argument
2011, In Michael Bruce & Steven Barbone (eds.), Just the Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Arguments in Western Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by:

Introduction: In the late twentieth century, zombies began to play an important role in philosophical discussions about consciousness. But unlike the zombies of Hollywood, philosophical zombies are very much alive – or at least, they would be were they to exist. As philosophers use the term, a zombie is a creature that is microphysically identical to a human being – and thus produces behavior that is indistinguishable from that of a normal human being – but lacks any sort of consciousness in the phenomenal sense. Zombies behave as if they are in pain when you stick them with a pin, and they will report that they are in pain, but they don ‘ t experience any painful sensations.

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Kind, Amy, , . Nagel’s “what is it like to be a bat” argument against physicalism
2011, In Michael Bruce & Steven Barbone (eds.), Just the Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Arguments in Western Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by:

Introduction: Physicalism – the claim that everything is physical – has been the dominant position in philosophy of mind since at least the middle of the twentieth century. Nonetheless, physicalism has long been accused of being unable to account satisfactorily for the qualitative or subjective aspect of experience, for example, the reddishness of one ‘ s visual experience of a ripe tomato or the painfulness of one ‘ s tactile experience of a sharp object. Many have charged that it is dif? cult to see how these aspects of experience could be accounted for in solely physical terms. Focusing speci? cally on the experi- ence that a bat has when using its sonar, Thomas Nagel formulated this charge in a particularly powerful way. His argument is designed to show that subjective facts about experience, which are essential to it, cannot be captured in the objective language of physicalism. Although most philoso- phers assume that the argument, if successful, would show that physicalism is false, Nagel himself is careful to claim only that we currently lack the conceptual resources to see how physicalism could be true.

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McWeeny, Jennifer, , . Princess Elisabeth and the Mind-Body Problem
2011, in Michael Bruce & Steven Barbone (eds.), Just the Arguments: 100 of the Most Important Arguments in Western Philosophy. Wiley-Blackwell. pp. 297-300.
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Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Introduction: The mind – body problem exposes the inconsistencies that arise when mind and body are conceived as ontologically distinct entities. Human experience clearly shows that our minds interact with our bodies. Philosophers who reject the identity of mind and body or mind and brain face the task of explaining these relations by illuminating the precise manner in which the mind moves the body and the body affects the mind. It is unsurprising, then, that the mind – body problem was first articulated as a response to René Descartes’ dualistic philosophy […]

Comment: A very short piece that sets out Elisabeth’s core criticisms of Descartes’ mind/body dualism. Useful bibliography included. Can be used as part of a week’s reading on Descartes, Cartesian dualism, and/or Elisabeth’s responses to Descartes.

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Millikan, Ruth Garrett, , . Historical kinds and the “special sciences”
1999, Philosophical Studies 95 (1-2):45-65.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Juan R. Loaiza

Abstract: There are no “special sciences” in Fodor’s sense. There is a large group of sciences, “historical sciences,” that differ fundamentally from the physical sciences because they quantify over a different kind of natural or real kind, nor are the generalizations supported by these kinds exceptionless. Heterogeneity, however, is not characteristic of these kinds. That there could be an univocal empirical science that ranged over multiple realizations of a functional property is quite problematic. If psychological predicates name multiply realized functionalist properties, then there is no single science dealing with these: human psychology, ape psychology, Martian psychology and robot psychology are necessarily different sciences

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Steward, Helen, , . The Ontology of Mind: Events, Processes, and States
2000, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Jie Gao, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: This book puts forward a radical critique of the foundations of contemporary philosophy of mind, arguing that it relies too heavily on insecure assumptions about the nature of some of the sorts of mental entities it postulates: the nature of events, processes, and states. The book offers an investigation of these three categories, clarifying the distinction between them, and argues specifically that the assumption that states can be treated as particular, event-like entities has been a huge and serious mistake. The book argues that the category of token state should be rejected, and develops an alternative way of understanding those varieties of causal explanation which have sometimes been thought to require an ontology of token states for their elucidation. The book contends that many current theories of mind are rendered unintelligible once it is seen how these explanations really work. A number of prominent features of contemporary philosophy of mind token identity theories, the functionalists conception of causal role, a common form of argument for eliminative materialism, and the structure of the debate about the efficacy of mental content are impugned by the book’s arguments. The book concludes that the modern mind-body problem needs to be substantially rethought.

Comment: The aim of this book is to argue that issues in metaphysics – in particular issues about the nature of states and causation – have a significant impact in philosophy of mind.The book has three parts and each part can be used for different purposes for courses on metaphysics or philosophy of mind. The first part constitutes an attack to three highly influential theories of events (the views of Jaegwon Kim, Jonathan Bennett and Lawrence Lombard) and a defence of the view that events are “proper particulars”. This part can be used as the main or secondary reading material in an upper-level course on metaphysics on topics of events. The second part defends the view that states are fundamentally different from events, which can be used for teaching on metaphysical theories of states or causal relation. The third part critically examines positions in philosophy of mind – in particular arguments for token-identity, epiphenomenalism, and eliminativism – need reconsideration. This part can be used as further reading materials on debates about those positions in philosophy of mind.

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Taylor, Kenneth A., , . Narrow content functionalism and the mind-body problem
1989, Noûs 23(3): 355-72.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Summary: Narrow content functionalism claims that the contents of beliefs are determined by their causal profile. If two belief tokens are of the same causal type, they are of the same semantic type. However, Taylor argues that de dicto semantic types do not supervene on causal types, due to multiple realizability. He establishes this with the thought experiment of “fraternal twin earth”, where things are functionally identical but molecularily different.

Comment: This paper shows how Putnam’s “twin earth” thought experiment needs to be modified to address narrow content functionalism. Suited to higher-level mind and language courses. Best taught after some more introductory readings on the topic, as those not already familiar with some of the elements may become lost.

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