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Anscombe, G. Elizabeth M., , . Causality and Determination
1981, In Anscombe, G. E. M. Metaphysics and the Philosophy of Mind: Collected Philosophical Papers Volume II. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Summary: A classic text in which Anscombe argues for a realist view of causation. Specifically, Anscombe holds that causation is both directly perceivable and not subject to philosophical analysis. Anscombe seeks to establish that causal relations do not presuppose laws, and that causal relations can be perceived in a direct way.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on metaphysics, philosophy of science or philosophy of action. Anscombe is not always an easy writer, but this paper is not technical and is widely considered to be a classic. This could be used at any undergraduate or graduate level.

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Antony, Louise, , . The Mental and The Physical
2009, in Robin Le Poidevin (ed.), The Routledge Companion to Metaphysics. Routledge. 555-567
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:

Summary: In this paper the author addresses physicalism and the problem of whether physicalism can account for consciousness and intentionality of our mental states. After providing a good survey of problems posed by this phenomenon as well as possible physicalist responses, she concludes that there still is no satisfying explanation of how the nature of our mental states fits into an “otherwise physical world”.

Comment: Good as a background introductory reading on the nature of mental states. More precisely, good as introduction on the problem of physicalism and whether it can account for intentionality and consciouness of our mental states.

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Brogaard, Berit, , . The Status of Consciousness in Nature
2015, In Steven Miller (ed.), The Constitution of Phenomenal Consciousness: Toward a science and theory. John Benjamins Publishing Company.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:
Abstract: The most central metaphysical question about phenomenal consciousness is that of what constitutes phenomenal consciousness, whereas the most central epistemic question about consciousness is that of whether science can eventually provide an explanation of the phenomenon. Many philosophers have argued that science doesn’t have the means to answer the question of what consciousness is (the explanatory gap) but that consciousness nonetheless is fully determined by the physical facts underlying it (no ontological gap). Others have argued that the explanatory gap in the sciences entails an ontological gap. This position is also known as ‘property dualism’. Here I examine a fourth position, according to which there an ontological gap but no explanatory gap.

 

Comment: In this paper, the author addresses the so-called “explanatory gap”. In a nutshell, the “explanatory gap” refers to the existing difficulty of explaining consciousness in physical terms. The author considers Chalmers’s argument which aims to show that there is a metaphysical gap. She argues that the existence of a metaphysical gap does not entail the existence of an explanatory gap, thereby failing to prevent scientists from discovering the nature of consciousness. Good as background reading on the topic of consciousness, its nature, and on whether we can explain in physicalist terms. The first half of the paper is particularly useful, as the author provides a survey of different theories regarding the link between consciousness and the neurological system.

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Brown, Jessica, , . Anti-individualism and knowledge
2004, MIT Press.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Publisher’s note: Contemporary philosophy of mind is dominated by anti-individualism, which holds that a subject’s thoughts are determined not only by what is inside her head but also by aspects of her environment. Despite its dominance, anti-individualism is subject to a daunting array of epistemological objections: that it is incompatible with the privileged access each subject has to her thoughts, that it undermines rationality, and, absurdly, that it provides a new route to a priori knowledge of the world. In this rigorous and persuasive study, Jessica Brown defends anti-individualism from these epistemological objections. The discussion has important consequences for key epistemological issues such as skepticism, closure, transmission, and the nature of knowledge and warrant.

According to Brown’s analysis, one main reason for thinking that anti-individualism is incompatible with privileged access is that it undermines a subject’s introspective ability to distinguish types of thoughts. So diagnosed, the standard focus on a subject’s reliability about her thoughts provides no adequate reply. Brown defuses the objection by appeal to the epistemological notion of a relevant alternative. Further, she argues that, given a proper understanding of rationality, anti-individualism is compatible with the notion that we are rational subjects. However, the discussion of rationality provides a new argument that anti-individualism is in tension with Fregean sense. Finally, Brown shows that anti-individualism does not create a new route to a priori knowledge of the world. While rejecting solutions that restrict the transmission of warrant, she argues that anti-individualists should deny that we have the type of knowledge that would be required to use a priori knowledge of thought content to gain a priori knowledge of the world.

Comment: A very interesting defense of anti-individualism. Contains interesting discussion on the topics of semantic externalism and introspection. Sections of it could be taught in any epistemology course covering these topics.

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Choi, Jinhee, , . All the right responses: Fiction films and warranted emotions
2003, British Journal of Aesthetics 43 (3):308-321.
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Added by: Chris Blake-Turner, Contributed by: Christy Mag Uidhir

Abstract: Cognitive theories of emotions have provided us with explanations of how we emotionally engage with fiction, when we are aware that what is depicted is fictional. However, these theories left an important question unanswered: namely, what kinds of emotional responses to fiction are warranted responses. The main focus of this paper is how our emotional responses to fiction can be aesthetically warranted – that is, how emotions directed to fiction can be warranted given the fact that its object is an artwork. I consider three possible explanations of this phenomenon: the real-life principle, a correspondence model, and a functional model. I argue that the real-life principle and the correspondence model fall short of explaining how our emotional responses to film are aesthetically warranted, and instead I argue that a functional model provides such an explanation. In this paper, I will primarily focus on fiction films, although I will address novels and other art forms where necessary.

Comment: [This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Churchland, Patricia, , . Epistemology in The Age of Neuroscience
1987, Journal of Philosophy 84 (1987): 546-83.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Comment: Churchland argues that advances in neuroscience should should bring about reform in a number of central areas of philosophy. Formal logic does not model human reasoning, formal semantics cannot account for how human language is meaningful, there are no foundations of knowledge, there is no a priori knowledge, and true belief is not a goal of human nervous systems.

Comment: This would be useful in a course on epistemology (in particular, a section on naturalised epistemology), the philosophy of cognitive science, the philosophy of biology or metaphilosophy. Though the paper touches on foundational issues in philosophy, it is a relatively straightforward read and an excellent conversation starter. Suitable for undergraduates of all levels, but also appropriate for graduate-level courses.

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Corns, Jennifer, , . Unpleasantness, Motivational Oomph, and Painfulness
2014, Mind and Language 29 (2):238-254
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Lizzy Ventham

Abstract: Painful pains are, paradigmatically, unpleasant and motivating. The dominant view amongst philosophers and pain scientists is that these two features are essentially related and sufficient for painfulness. In this article, I first offer scientifically informed characterizations of both unpleasantness and motivational oomph and argue against other extant accounts. I then draw on folk-characterized cases and current neurobiological and neurobehavioral evidence to argue that both dominant positions are mistaken. Unpleasantness and motivational oomph doubly dissociate and, even taken together, are insufficient for painfulness

Comment: I use this paper as further reading when I teach on the philosophy of well-being and/or moral psychology. The paper is a detailed and useful text that can help explain positions on the nature of pain and, more specifically, its relation to our motivational capacities. It makes a lot of good use of scientific literature, and can be a good guide to that for students. Corns provides an argument for a way of understanding pain that doesn’t reduce it to simply motivation or unpleasantness.

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Egan, Frances, , . Wide Content
2009, In A. Beckerman, B. McLaughlin & S. Walter (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind. Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Summary: The author presents an overview of the main argument in favour and against content externalism, namely, roughly put, the thesis that the content of our thought is partly individuated by feature of the external environment. After providing a good survey of the debate, the author argues that the content that individuates a subject’s thought in the explanation of her behavior is wide.

Comment: The first half of the paper is very useful as an introduction on the topic of semantic and content externalism in the philosophy of mind. The remainder is an interesting and well-presented argument in favour of wide content. The first part could be used on its own for an overview of the debate; the remainder could be used for a more in-depth discussion of the positions and the arguments for them, or could serve as an option for a student essay topic.

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Elisabeth of Bohemia, , . Selections from her Correspondence with Descartes
1994, in Margaret Atherton (ed.) Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period. Hackett Publishing Company. [originally written 1643-1650]
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Added by: Alison Stone, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

From the SEP:  Elisabeth presses Descartes on the relation between the two really distinct substances of mind and body, and in particular the possibility of their causal interaction and the nature of their union. They also correspond on Descartes’s physics, on the passions and their regulation, on the nature of virtue and the greatest good, on the nature of human freedom of the will and its compatibility with divine causal determination, and on political philosophy.

Comment: This chapter could be used in a history of philosophy course covering Descartes as one week’s reading, covering Elisabeth’s questions to Descartes about mind/body interaction. Note that the selections in Atherton’s collection are adequate for a Philosophy of Mind course, but students wishing to explore the issues in more detail might benefit from reading the full text.

Complimentary Texts/Resources:

Lisa Shapiro, “Princess Elizabeth and Descartes: The Union of Soul and Body and the Practice of Philosophy” – Shapiro explicates Elizabeth’s underlying view and objections and shows how to frame the issues in the correspondence as feminist issues and issues about philosophy and its culture.

Andrea Nye, “Polity and Prudence: the Ethics of Elisabeth, Princess Palatine” – Nye explores Elisabeth’s ethical views, as discovered via the correspondence.

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Gertler, Brie, , . In Defence of Mind-Body Dualism
2007, in Reason and Responsibility 13th edition (Feinberg & Shafer-Landau (eds.)). Wadsworth.
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Added by: Emily Paul, Contributed by: Helen De Cruz

Abstract: In this essay, I defend naturalistic dualism. I take, as my starting point, and argument made by Rene Descartes in his Meditations. I expand and defend this argument, drawing on some ideas developed by contemporary philosophers. The expanded argument is, I think, much more powerful than most physicalists recognize. After making my case for dualism, I offer some criticisms of physicalism. The paper will close by defending dualism from the charge that the picture of reality it proves is unacceptably spooky.

Comment: Excellent core reading for an introductory philosophy of mind course introducing dualism. It could be particularly helpful to work through the premises of the disembodiment argument, and ask students which (if any) they consider the most contentious ones. The paper is nicely divided into sections that either mount a particular defence of dualism, or respond to a particular objection to it. It could be a good to consider which of Gertler’s arguments they consider to be the strongest and weakest, and why. This could lead to a very productive discussion.

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Gluer, Kathrin, , . Donald Davidson: A short Introduction
2014, Oxford University Press USA
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Added by: Giada Fratantonio, Contributed by:

Publisher’s Note: Donald Davidson was one of the 20th Century’s deepest analytic thinkers. He developed a systematic picture of the human mind and its relation to the world, an original and sustained vision that exerted a shaping influence well beyond analytic philosophy of mind and language. At its center is an idea of minded creatures as essentially rational animals: Rational animals can be interpreted, their behavior can be understood, and the contents of their thoughts are, in principle, open to others. The combination of a rigorous analytic stance with aspects of humanism so distinctive of Davidsonian thought finds its maybe most characteristic expression when this central idea is brought to bear on the relation of the mental to the physical: Davidson defended the irreducibility of its rational nature while acknowledging that the mental is ultimately determined by the physical. Davidson made contributions of lasting importance to a wide range of topics – from general theory of meaning and content over formal semantics, the theories of truth, explanation, and action, to metaphysics and epistemology. His writings almost entirely consist of short, elegant, and often witty papers. These dense and thematically tightly interwoven essays present a profound challenge to the reader. This book provides a concise, systematic introduction to all the main elements of Davidson’s philosophy. It places the theory of meaning and content at the very center of his thought. By using interpretation, and the interpreter, as key ideas it clearly brings out the underlying structure and unified nature of Davidson’s work. Kathrin Gluer carefully outlines his principal claims and arguments, and discusses them in some detail. The book thus makes Davidson’s thought accessible in its genuine depth, and acquaints the reader with the main lines of discussion surrounding it.

Comment: Can be used as brief introduction into the main thoughts of Donald Davidon’s philosophy.
[This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Jorati, Julia, , . Gottfried Leibniz: Philosophy of Mind
2014, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Julia Jorati

Abstract: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) was a true polymath: he made substantial contributions to a host of different fields such as mathematics, law, physics, theology, and most subfields of philosophy. Within the philosophy of mind, his chief innovations include his rejection of the Cartesian doctrines that all mental states are conscious and that non-human animals lack souls as well as sensation. Leibniz’s belief that non-rational animals have souls and feelings prompted him to reflect much more thoroughly than many of his predecessors on the mental capacities that distinguish human beings from lower animals. Relatedly, the acknowledgment of unconscious mental representations and motivations enabled Leibniz to provide a far more sophisticated account of human psychology. It also led Leibniz to hold that perception—rather than consciousness, as Cartesians assume—is the distinguishing mark of mentality.

Comment: Overview over Leibniz’s philosophy of mind; can be used for a survey course on early modern philosophy or for a more specialized course on the history of the philosophy of mind.

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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, , . Biosemantics
1989, Journal of Philosophy 86 (1989): 281-97.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by: Nora Heinzelmann

Summary: The term ‘biosemantics’ has usually been applied only to the theory of mental representation. This article first characterizes a more general class of theories called ‘teleological theories of mental content’ of which biosemantics is an example. Then it discusses the details that distinguish biosemantics from other naturalistic teleological theories. Naturalistic theories of mental representation attempt to explain, in terms designed to fit within the natural sciences, what it is about a mental representation that makes it represent something. Frequently these theories have been classified as either picture theories, causal or covariation theories, information theories, functionalist or causal-role theories, or teleological theories, the assumption being that these various categories are side by side with one another.

Comment: This would be useful in a course in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of biology, or any course in which naturalistic accounts of mental content are relevant. The paper makes use of memorable illustrative examples, which will help to convey its central ideas to students, and addresses objections to the position developed by Millikan. Suitable for undergraduate as well as graduate courses.

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Millikan, Ruth, , . In Defense of Proper Functions
1989, Philosophy of Science, 56 (1989): 288-302.
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Added by: Jamie Collin, Contributed by:

Abstract: I defend the historical definition of “function” originally given in my Language, Thought and Other Biological Categories (1984a). The definition was not offered in the spirit of conceptual analysis but is more akin to a theoretical definition of “function”. A major theme is that nonhistorical analyses of “function” fail to deal adequately with items that are not capable of performing their functions.

Comment: This paper is something of a classic, and would be useful in a course on philosophy of science, philosophy of biology, philosophy of mind or philosophy of language. Though the paper is not technical, it is not easy and would be most suitable for advanced undergraduate or graduate courses. The paper also functions as a good example of an important attempt to naturalise a central normative notion.

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