Academic year
Josefa Toribio
Department of Philosophy
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona
Itinerary 1 Theoretical Philosophy
Module 4. Language and Mind
Tue. 15:30-18:30h
Room 211 building B. Fac de Filosofia i Lletres UAB


How does a person’s mind relate to a person’s brain and to the external word? Are mental states identical to physical states? Can mental properties be reduced to physical properties? Does thinking require a language-like code? Do all mental representations share the same kind of content? The first part of this course will be dedicated to a survey and discussion of the most important answers offered to these questions from the point of view of analytic philosophy and the philosophy of cognitive sciences. In the second part of the course, and adopting the same standpoint, we shall focus on theories of action and the puzzle of agency. We will critically examine the causal theory of action. The role of reasons in action and the contrast between epistemic and practical responsibility will also be important topics of discussion.


The course aims to provide an understanding of some central problems in the philosophy of mind and in the philosophy of action. In addition the course aims to explain the significance of accounts of mind and action for other debates in philosophy.


Week 1: Course overview. Assignment of presentations

Week 2: Identity theory and anomalous monism

Week 3: The computational theory of mind: functionalism

Week 4: Instrumentalism

Week 5: The language of thought hypothesis

Week 6: The content of experience

Week 7: Events and action: the causal theory of action

Week 8: Reasons for action

Week 9: Agency and control

Week 10: Practical vs. epistemic responsibility



SyllabusPhilCogSci1011FINAL.pdf256.27 KB



Readings: The primary class readings are the required readings to be completed before the class it is assigned for. Those primary readings appropriate for students class presentations are marked with an asterisk. Most primary readings will be provided electronically.


Presentations: All attendees (including auditors) will be required to lead seminar discussions at least once. A presentation should be a critical discussion rather than a summary. The presentation can concern any topic connected with the week’s reading that is of interest to the presenter. Seminar presentations may be given using notes or overheads, but they may not be read aloud from a pre-written paper. They shouldn’t be longer than 30 minutes. Students will be given detailed guidelines for their presentations, and it should be kept in mind that the goal of each presentation is to focus a critical discussion of some of the arguments that appear in the paper under discussion.


Participation: Discussion is of the essence for this seminar. To achieve this, everyone should come to the seminar ready to participate. Take notes while you are reading. Write down any aspect of the reading that you find interesting. This would help force you to engage the reading in a serious way so that you’ll be primed to participate actively in the discussion.




20% for in-class activity, 30% for presentations, 50% for a final 3.000 word essay, which should be handed in on by 4 pm on Tuesday, December 14th, 2010. The essay may be, if you so wish, on the same topic as your presentation. Week 1 will be dedicated to an overview of the course and organisational matters. We shall proceed to assign presentation slots. Please do not miss this meeting.





Week 2: Identity Theory and Anomalous Monism


*Kim, J., Philosophy of Mind, Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Chapters 3
and 6.
Antony, L. 1989. “Anomalous Monism and the Problem of Explanatory
Force” Philosophical Review 98:153-87.
Campbell, N. 1997. “The Standard Objection to Anomalous Monism”.
Australasian Journal of Philosophy 75:373-82.
Daniel, S. G. 1999. Why even Kim-style psychophysical laws are impossible.
Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 80:225-237.
*Davidson, D. (1980) “Mental Events”, in W. G. Lycan (Ed.) (1999) Mind
and Cognition. A Reader. (2nd. Ed.) Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, pp. 35-45.
Davidson, D. 1999. “The Emergence of Thought”, Erkenntnis 51:511-21.
Elgin, C. 1980. “Indeterminacy, Underdetermination and the Anomalous
Monism”. Synthese 45:233-55.
Herstein, G. L. 2005. “Davidson on the Imposibility of Psychophysical Laws”,
Synthese 145:45-63.
Place, U. T. (1956) “Is Consciousness a Brain Process?” In W. G. Lycan (Ed.)
(1999) Mind and Cognition. A Reader. (2nd. Ed.) Cambridge: Basil Blackwell,
pp. 14-19.
Place, U. T. “Identity Theories” (under construction), Field Guide to the
Philosophy of Mind:
Smart, J. J. C., "The Identity Theory of Mind", The Stanford Encyclopedia of
Philosophy (Fall 2000 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.):
Tiffany, E. C. 2001. “The Rational Character of Belief and the Argument for
Mental Anomalism”, Philosophical Studies 103:258-314.


Week 3: The computational theory of mind: Functionalism


Block, N. “The Mind as the Software of the Brain”

Horgan, T. 1984. “Functionalism and Token Physicalism”. Synthese 59:321

Jackson, F., Pargetter, R. & Prior, E. W. 1982. “Functionalism and Type-Type Identity Theories”. Philosophical Studies 42:209-25.

*Kim, J., Philosophy of Mind, Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Chapters 3 and 4.

Lewis, D., “Mad Pain and Martian Pain”, in Problems in Mind, J. Crumley,

ed., Mayfield Publishing Company, 2000, pp. 110-117. Originally published

in Readings in the Philosophy of Psychology, Vol. I, N. Block, ed., Harvard

University Press, 1980, pp. 216-222.

McGinn, C. 1980. “Functionalism and Phenomenalism: A Critical Note”.

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 58:35-46. Reprinted in The Problem of Consciousness (Blackwell, 1991).

Putnam, H. (1967) “The Nature of Mental States”, in W. G. Lycan (Ed.)

(1999) Mind and Cognition. A Reader. (2nd. Ed.) Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, pp. 27-34.

*Searle, J. “Minds, Brains and Programs”, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 3:417-57:

Searle, J. R. 1984. Minds, Brains and Science. Harvard University Press.

Searle, J. R. 1990. Is the brain’s mind a computer program? Scientific American 262(1): 26-31:

Searle, J. 2002. “Why I Am Not a Property Dualist”, Journal of Consciousness Studies 9:57-64.

Searle, J. R. 2002. Twenty-one years in the Chinese room. In (J. Preston & M. Bishop, eds.) Views into the Chinese Room: New Essays on Searle and Artificial Intelligence. Oxford University Press.

Shoemaker, S. 1981. “Some Varieties of Functionalism”. Philosophical Topics 12:93-119.

Turing, M. A. (1950) Computing Machinery and Intelligence. Mind 49: 433- 460.

Turing’s website:

The Turing Test page:

The Turing Test (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy):

Tye, M. 1983. “Functionalism and Type Physicalism”. Philosophical Studies 44:161-74.

Weir, A. 2001. “More Trouble for Functionalism”. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 101:267-94.



Week 4: Instrumentalism


Baker, L. R. 1989. “Instrumental Intentionality” Philosophy of Science


Bechtel, W. 1985. Realism, instrumentalism, and the intentional stance. Cognitive Science 9:265-92.

Dennett, D. C. 1971. “Intentional Systems”. Journal of Philosophy 68:87-106 Reprinted in Brainstorms (MIT Press, 1978).

*Dennett, D. 1981. “True Believers: The Intentional Strategy and Why it Works”, in W. G. Lycan (Ed.) (1999) Mind and Cognition. A Reader. (2nd. Ed.) Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, pp. 75-87.

Dennett, D. C. 1987. The Intentional Stance. MIT Press.

Dennett, D. C. 1990. “The Interpretation of Texts, People and Other

Artifacts”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research (Supplement) 50.

Dennett, D. C. 1991. “Real Patterns”, Journal of Philosophy 88: 27-51.

Haugeland, J. 1993. “Pattern and Being”. In (B. Dahlbom, ed) Dennett and His Critics. Blackwell.

McLaughlin, B. & O'Leary-Hawthorne, J. 1995. “Dennett’s Logical Behaviorism”. Philosophical Topics 22:189-258.

McCulloch, G. 1990. “Dennett’s Little Grains of Salt”. Philosophical Quarterly 40:1-12.

Nelkin, N. 1993. “Patterns”. Mind and Language 9:56-87.

Stich, S. P. 1981. “Dennett on Intentional Systems”. Philosophical Topics 12:39-62. Reprinted in W. Lycan, (ed.) Mind and Cognition (Blackwell, 1990).



Week 5: The Language of Thought Hypothesis


Aydede, M. “The Language of Thought Hypothesis”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2002 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.):

Carruthers, P. 2003. “On Fodor’s Problem”. Mind and Language 18:502-523.

*Fodor, J. (1987) “Why There Still Has to Be a Language of Thought”, in

W. G. Lycan (Ed.) (1999) Mind and Cognition. A Reader. (2nd. Ed.) Cambridge: Basil Blackwell, pp. 282-299. Also here:

Fodor, J. A. & Pylyshyn, Z. W. 1988. “Connectionism and Cognitive Architecture”, Cognition 28:3-71.

Fodor, J. 2001. “Language, Thought and Compositionality”. Mind and Language 16:1-15.

Heil, J. 1981. “Does Cognitive Psychology Rest on a Mistake?” Mind 90:321- 42.

Laurence, S. & Margolis, E. “Regress arguments against The Language of Thought”, Analysis, 57, 1, 1997: 60-66.

Laurence, S. & Margolis, E. 2003. “Radical Concept Nativism”. Cognition 86:25-55.

Lycan, W. G. 1982. “Toward a Homuncular Theory of Believing”. Cognition and Brain Theory 4:139-59.

Millikan, R. G. 1993. “On Mentalese Orthography”. In (B. Dahlbom, ed) Dennett and his Critics. Blackwell.

Schiffer, S. 1991. Does Mentalese have a Compositional Semantics? In (B.

Loewer & G. Rey, eds) Meaning in Mind: Fodor and his Critics. Blackwell.

Smolensky, P. 1988. “On the proper treatment of connectionism.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 11:1-23.

Stalnaker, R. C. 1990. “Mental Content and Linguistic Form”. Philosophical Studies 58:129-46.

Sterelny, K. 1983. “Mental Representation: What Language is Brainese?” Philosophical Studies, 43:365-82.

Teng, N. Y. 1999. “The Language of Thought and the Embodied Nature of Language Use”. Philosophical Studies 94:237-251.

Van Gelder, T. 1990. “Compositionality: A Connectionist Variation on a Classical Theme.” Cognitive Science, 14: 355-384.



Week 6: The content of experience.


Bermúdez, J. L. (1994) “Peacocke’s argument against the autonomy of nonconceptual content”. Mind and Language, 9, 402-418.

Bermúdez, J. L. (1995a) “Nonconceptual content: From perceptual experience to subpersonal computational states”. Mind and Language, 10, 333-369.

Bermúdez, J. L. (1995b) “Ecological perception and the notion of a non- conceptual point of view”. In Bermúdez, J. L., A. J. Marcel, and N. Eilan (eds.) The Body and the Self. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, pp. 153- 174.

Bermúdez, J. L. and Cahen, A. (2008) “Nonconceptual Mental Content”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2008 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = <>.

Bermúdez, J. L., and Macpherson, F. (1998) “Nonconceptual content and the nature of perceptual experience”, Electronic Journal of Analytic Philosophy, 6, 2 (special issue on the philosophy of Gareth Evans edited by Rick Grush)

Brewer, B. (1999) Perception and Reason. Oxford: OUP.

Brewer, B. (2005) “Perceptual Experience has Conceptual Content”. In E.

Sosa and M. Steup (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Oxford:


Byrne, A. (2003) “Consciousness and nonconceptual content”. Philosophical Studies 113: 261-274.

Byrne, A. (2005) “Perception and Conceptual Content”. In E. Sosa and M. Steup (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology. Oxford: Blackwell.

Burge, T. (2003) “Perceptual Entitlement”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 67 (3): 503-548.

Campbell, J. (1994) Past, Space and Self. Cambridge MA: MIT Press.

Clark, A. (2001) “Visual experience and motor action: Are the bonds too tight?” Philosophical Review 110, 495-519.

Crane, T. (1988a) “Concepts in perception”. Analysis 48: 150-153.

Crane, T. (1988b) “The waterfall illusion”. Analysis, 48: 142-147.

Crane, T. (ed.) (1992a) The contents of experience: Essays on perception (ed.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Crane T. (1992b) “The nonconceptual content of experience”. In T. Crane (ed.) 1992a, pp. 136-157. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cussins, A. (1992) “Content, embodiment and objectivity: The theory of cognitive trails”. Mind, 101(404), 651-688.

Cussins, A. (1993) “Nonconceptual content and the elimination of misconceived composites”. Mind and Language, 8 (2): 234-252.

Davis, M. (1991) “Individualism and perceptual content”. Mind, 100, 461-484.

Davis, M. (1992) “Perceptual content and local supervenience”. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 92, 21-45.

Egan, F. (1992) “Individualism, computation and perceptual content”, Mind 101: 443-459.

Evans, G. (1982) The varieties of reference. J. McDowell (Ed.) Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Gendler, T. and Hawthorne, J. (eds.) (2005) Perceptual Experience. Oxford University Press.

Gunther, Y. H. (2003) Essays on Nonconceptual Content. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Heck, R. (2000) “Nonconceptual Content and the ‘Space of Reasons’”. Philosophical Review, 109 (4): 483-523.

Hurley, S. (1997) Non-conceptual self-consciousness and agency: Perspective and Access. Communication and Cognition, 30, (3/4): 207-48.

Kelly, S. (2001a) “The non-conceptual content of perceptual experience: Situation dependence and fineness of grain”, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 62: 601-608.

Kelly, S. (2001b) “Demonstrative Concepts and Experience”, Philosophical Review, 110: 397-420.

Martin, M. G. F. (1992) “Perception, Concepts, and Memory”. Philosophical Review, 101 (4): 745-763.

McDowell, J. (1990) “Peacocke and Evans on demonstrative content”. Mind 99 (394): 255-266.

McDowell, J. (1994a) Mind and world. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. Re-edited in 1996 with a new introduction.

*McDowell, J. (1994b) “The Content of Perceptual Experience”, Philosophical Quarterly 44 (175): 190-205.

McDowell, J. (1998) “Reply to Peacocke on Mind and World”. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 58 (2): 414 - 419.

Mellor, D. H. (1988) “Crane’s waterfall illusion”. Analysis, 48:147-150.

Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962) Phenomenology of Perception. Translated by Colin Smith. Edited by T. Honderich, International Library of Philosophy and Scientific Method. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Millar, A. (1991) Reasons and Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Noë, A. (1999) “Thought and Experience”. American Philosophical Quarterly 36, 257-265.

Peacocke, C. (1986) “Analogue content”. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society. Supplementary Vol. 60, 1-17.

Peacocke, C. (1989) “Perceptual content”. In Themes from Kaplan, edited by P. Almog, and Wettstein. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Peacocke, C. (1991) “Demonstrative content: a reply to John McDowell”. Mind 100 (397): 123-133.

Peacocke, C. (1992) “Scenarios, concepts and perception”. In T. Crane (ed.) (1992a), pp. 105-135) Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Peacocke, C. (1994) “Nonconceptual Content: Kinds, Rationales, and Relations”. Mind and Language, 9: 419-429.

Peacocke, C. (1998) “Nonconceptual content defended”. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 58 (2), 381-388.

*Peacocke, C. (2001a) “Does perception have a nonconceptual content?” Journal of Philosophy 98: 239-64.

Peacocke, C. (2001b) “Phenomenology and Nonconceptual Content”. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 62: 609-615.

Peacocke, C. (2003) “Postcript to Peacocke 1994”. In Y. Gunther (ed.), Essays on Nonconceptual Content. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp. 310-322.

Sedivy, S. (1996) Must conceptually informed perceptual experience involve non-conceptual content?, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 26, 413-431.

Stalnaker, R. (1998) “What might nonconceptual content be?” In E. Villanueva (ed.), Concepts. Philosophical Issues 9. Atascadero: Ridgeview.

Stich, S. (1978) “Beliefs and subdoxastic states”, Philosophy of Science 45, 499-518.

Strawson, P. F. (1979) “Perception and its objects”. In Perception and Identity, edited by G. F. MacDonald. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Toribio, J., (1997) “Ecological Content”, Pragmatics and Cognition 5:2: 257- 285.

*Toribio, J., ‘Nonconceptual Content’. Philosophy Compass 2/3, 2007: 445–460, 10.1111/j.1747-9991.2007.00075.x

Tye, M. (2005) “Nonconceptual Content, Richness, and Fineness of Grain”. In T. Gendler and J. Hawthorne (eds.), Perceptual Experience. Oxford University Press.

Walsh, V. and J. Kulikowski, eds. (1998) Perceptual Constancy: Why Things Look as They Do. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.



Week 7: Events and Actions: the causal theory of action.


Alvarez, M. and Hyman, J. (1998). ‘Agents and Their Actions’, Philosophy 73: 219-45

Bach, K. (1980). ‘Actions Are Not Events’, Mind 89: 114-20.

Bennett, J. (2002). ‘What events are’ in Gale, ed., The Blackwell Guide to Metaphysics. R. Gale (Ed.). Wiley-Blackwell.

Danto, A. (1963). ‘What We Can Do’, Journal of Philosophy 60 (1963): 435- 45

Danto, A. (1965). ‘Basic Actions’, American Philosophical Quarterly 2 (1965): 141-48.

Davidson, D. (1980). ‘Causal Relations’, in his Essays on Actions and Events. Oxford: OUP.

*Davidson, D. (1980). ‘The Individuation of Events’, in his Essays on Actions and Events. Oxford: OUP.

Davidson, D. (1980). ‘Events as particulars’, in his Essays on Actions and Events. Oxford: OUP.

*Davidson, D. (1980). ‘Actions, Reasons and Causes’, in his Essays on Actions and Events. Oxford: OUP, pp. 3–20.

Davidson, D. (1980). ‘How is Weakness of the Will Possible?’, in his Essays on Actions and Events. Oxford: OUP, pp. 21–42.

Harman, G. (1997). ‘Practical Reasoning’, in A. R. Mele (ed.) The Philosophy of Action. Oxford: OUP, pp. 149 – 177.

Kim, J. (1973). ‘Causation, nomic subsumption and the concept of an event’, Journal of Philosophy, 70 (8): 217-236.

Roth, A. (2000). ‘Reasons Explanation of Actions: Causal, Singular, and Situational’, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 59: 839-74.

Setiya, K. (2003) ‘Explaining Action,’ Philosophical Review, 112: 339-93.

Velleman, D. (1992). ‘The Guise of the Good’, Noûs, 26 (1): 3-26.



Week 8: Reasons for action?


Audi, R. (1997). ‘Acting for Reasons’, The Philosophical Review, 95 (4): 511- 546. Reprinted in A. R. Mele (ed.) The Philosophy of Action. Oxford: OUP, pp. 75–105.

Davidson, D. (1980). ‘Freedom to Act’, in his Essays on Actions and Events. Oxford: OUP, pp. 63-81.

Farrell, D. 1(989). ‘Intention, Reason, and Action’, American Philosophical Quarterly, 26: 283-95.

Frankfurt, H. (1997). ‘The problem of action’, in A. R. Mele (ed.) The Philosophy of Action. Oxford: OUP.

Harman, G. (1997). ‘Practical Reasoning’, in A. R. Mele (ed.) The Philosophy of Action. Oxford: OUP, pp. 149 – 177.

*Hursthouse, R. (1991). ‘Arational Actions’. Journal of Philosophy, 88 (2): 57-68.

O’Connor, T. (2002). Persons and Causes. The Metaphysics of Free Will. Cambridge, MA: OUP.

Watson, G. (1977). ‘Scepticism about the Weakness of Will’, Philosophical Review 83, 1977: 316 – 339.



Week 9: Agency and Control


de Vignemont, F. and P. Fourneret (2004). ‘The Sense of Agency: A Philosophical and Empirical Review of the “Who” System.’ Consciousness and Cognition, 13: 1-19.

Humphreys, G. and J. Riddoch (2003). Fractionating the Intentional Control of Behaviour: A Neuropsychological Analysis. Agency and Self-Awareness. J.

Roessler and N. Eilan. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Libet, B. (1985). ‘Unconscious Cerebral Initiative and the Role of Conscious

Will in Voluntary Action.’ The Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 8: 529-566.

Mele, A. (2003) Motivation and Agency. Oxford: OUP. Chapter 8.

Peacocke, C. (2003). Action. Awareness, Ownership, and Knowledge. Agency and Self-Awareness. J. Roessler and N. Eilan. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Proust, J. (2003). Perceiving Intentions. Agency and Self-Awareness: Issues in Philosophy and Psychology. J. Roessler and N. Eilan. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Roessler, J. and N. Eilan, Eds. (2003). Agency and Self-Awareness. Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Strawson, G. (2003) ‘Mental Ballistics or the involuntariness of spontaneity’

Meeting of the Aristotelian Society, April, 28th.

Velleman, J. D. (1992). ‘What Happens When Someone Acts’ Mind (1992):


*Frankfurt, H. (1971).‘Freedom of the will and the concept of a person’, Journal of Philosophy, 68 (1): 5-20.

Watson, G. (1975). ‘Free Agency’, Journal of Philosophy, 72: 205-220.

*Wegner, D. M. & Wheatly, T. P. (1999). Apparent mental causation: Sources of the experience of will. American Psychologist, 54, 480–492.



Week 10: Practical vs. Epistemic Responsibility


Adams, R. (1985). ‘Involuntary sins’, Philosophical Review, 94, 3-31.

Dennett, D. (1982). ‘Mechanism and Responsibility’, in G. Watson (ed.), Free Will, Oxford: OUP, pp. 127–173.

*Hieronymi, P. (2008) ‘Responsibility for believing’, Synthese (2008), 161, 357-373.

Owens, D. (2000). Reason Without Freedom. The Problem of Epistemic Normativity. London: Routledge.

Smith, A. M. (2005). ‘Responsibility for attitudes: activity and passivity in mental life. Ethics, 115, 236-271.



General Web Resources


The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:


Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:


Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind


Philosophy and Cognitive Science. Selected bibliography:


Consciousness, philosophy of mind, and such (Dave Chalmers’ compilation):



Useful websites on the philosophy of action:



Useful websites on how to write philosophy papers:


Writing a Philosophy Paper (Peter Horban):


Guide to the Study of Philosophy (Garth Kemerling):


Tips on Writing a Philosophy Paper (Douglas Portmore):


Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper (James Pryor):