Academic year
2017/2018
Teachers
Josefa Toribio and Daniel Quesada
Department
Department of Philosophy
University
Universitat de Barcelona
Itinerary
Master courses
Module
Module 4. Language and Mind
Code
570633
Credits
5
Language
English
Dates
2018-02-15 - 2018-05-03
Schedule
Thursdays: 10:00-13:00
Location
UB, Philosophy Faculty, room 412

Description

The course aims to provide an understanding of some central problems in the study of perception—especially as these problems are framed by the cognitive sciences.

 What are perceptual experiences? Is the content of perceptual experiences the same kind of content as the content of e.g. beliefs? What kind of properties do we represent in visual experiences? Can visual experiences be influenced by other non-perceptive cognitive states? What is the nature of that influence, if there is one? Is the content of other types of mental states, such as implicit attitudes, also the same kind of content as the content of belief? These are all questions to be addressed in the first part of the course.

In the second part of the course, the course aims to provide an understanding of some central problems in the study of consciousness in perception and provide a critical appraisal of the different current views mainly on three interrelated issues: the analytical question (how is the “phenomenal character” of perceptual experiences to be characterized?), the ontological question (how do conscious perceptual experiences relate to brain/bodily states?), the epistemological/explanatory issue (is there an “explanatory gap” when it comes to explaining what is distinctive of perceptual experiences?). We will also try to locate the role of cognitive science in the study of perceptual consciousness.

 

Course Outline:

Week 1:    Overview and introduction to the first part of the course.

                 Assignment of presentations (first part)

Week 2:    The content of perception. The conceptualism vs. nonconceptualism debate

Week 3:    The content of perception. The liberalism vs. conservatism debate

Week 4:    The content of perception: Cognitive penetration

Week 5:    Implicit attitudes

Week 6:   Overview and introduction of the second part.

                Assignment of presentations (second part)

Week 7:   The transparency of experience.

Week 8:   Disjunctivism and perception-like hallucinations.

Week 9:   Introspection and higher-order perception theories.

Week 10: The problem of the explanatory gap.

Week 11:  Essay Clinic


Methodology

Readings: Primary class readings are the required readings to be completed before the class they are assigned for. All primary readings will be electronically accessible and are listed below. Sometimes, secondary readings will be provided during the course. The instructors will not assume familiarity with these other readings.

Main Discussants: All students taking the course for credit will be required to act as main discussant at least twice during the course (whether it is compulsory to occupy this role more times will depend on the number of students).

Main discussants are expected to ask one question regarding a particular aspect of one of the required readings for the day. Discussants should aim at the standards operative in the discussion of communications at professional philosophy conferences, or research seminars: their evaluation will depend on how well the target thesis is summarised, how clearly the objection is presented, and how relevant it is. The question should not take more than 2 or 3 minutes to formulate, follow-ups on the question will be allowed (from main discussants or other attendees) at the discretion of the instructor. No supporting materials (handouts, slides) will be allowed. See (http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2011/03/how-to-ask-questions-at-conferences-and-colloquia.html) for more advice on question asking at academic conferences.

Participation: Apart from the main discussant, all other students are expected to ask questions about the papers and the discussion in class, and meet the same standards as the main discussant. Participation (that meets the standards) will have a very real impact on the final grade.

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.


Evaluation

Essay. All students taking the course for credit will have to write a 3.000 word essay on any of the topics of the course, broadly construed: a detailed reply to one of the papers, a paper that connects an item in the syllabus to new empirical work, one that applies tools studied in the course to different philosophical problems, are all valid approaches. See below for a bunch of useful link on how to write a philosophy paper.

At least one long abstract (500-1000 words) must be submitted for approval and feedback by May 10th. Students are encouraged (but not required) to submit a full draft of the final essay before the deadline. See deadlines below.

Assessment: 20% for in-class activity, 30% for the discussant question(s), 50% for the final essay, which will be due on June 7th by 12 (noon).

(Guidelines on evaluation and marking, including a note on originality and plagiarism, are available at http://www.ub.edu/aphil/?q=en/content/guidelines- evaluation-and-marking).

Deadlines

  • May 10th: Long abstract of essay to be agreed with the instructor(s).
  • May 24th (optional): Last draft, in order to receive feedback by the instructor(s).
  • June 7th: Final version of the essay. 


Deadlines are final. In particular, no late submissions of the final version of the essay will be accepted.

Please also note that essays more than 5% over the maximum recommended essay length (3000 words, not including footnotes and references) will be penalized.

 

Intended Learning Outcomes:

CB6 – Students should be able to critically understand central texts in the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of cognitive science in a way that puts them in a position to develop and apply original ideas.

CB9 - Students should be able to communicate their knowledge and their arguments to specialized audiences in a clear and articulate way.

CG2. Students should be able to design, create, develop and undertake new and innovative projects in their area of ​​expertise.

CG3. Students should be able to engage both in general and specific discussions in the domain of the philosophy of mind and the philosophy of cognitive science. They should be able to conduct a philosophical discussion (orally and in written form), by putting forward, for example, general arguments or specific examples, in support of one’s position.

CG4. Students should be able to work both independently and in a team, in an international environment.

CG5. Students should be able to identify methodological errors, rhetorical, conventional and uncritical assumptions, vagueness and superficiality.

CE1. Students should be able to critically engage with the concepts and methods of contemporary philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science.

CE2. Students shoulld be able to identify the core arguments and theories of contemporary philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science.

CE4. Students should be able to assess the writings of leading contemporary philosophers in the field of philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science.

CE5. Students should be able to identify and critically engage with the current state of a particular philosophical debate, and form a reasoned view, even if provisional, about it.

CE7. Students should be able to critically use specialized terminology in the field of philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science.

 


Bibliography

FIRST PART:

 

Week 1:     Course overview (first part). Assignment of main discussant slots

Week 2:     The content of perception: The conceptualism vs. nonconceptualism debate.

  • McDowell (2009). “Avoiding the Myth of the Given”. In John McDowell: Experience, Norm, and Nature (ed. J. Lindgaard), Blackwell Publishing Ltd., Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444306736. Chapter 1.
  • Peacocke, (2001) “Does perception have a nonconceptual content?” Journal of Philosophy 98: 239-64.

Background reading:

  • Toribio (2007). ‘Nonconceptual Content’. Philosophy Compass 2/3: 445–460.

Week 3:    The content of perception: The liberalism vs. conservatism debate.

  • Susanna Siegel, “Which properties are represented in perception?” In [Gendler]
  • Nanay, (2011) “Do we see apples as edible?” Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92: 305–322.

Week 4:     Cognitive Penetration.

  • Pylyshyn, Z. (1999). Is vision continuous with cognition? The case for cognitive impenetrability of visual perception. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 22: 341–365.
  • Macpherson (2012) “Cognitive Penetration of Colour Experience: Rethinking the Issue in Light of an Indirect Mechanism”. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, 84(1): 24-62.
  • Zeimbekis (2013) “Color and cognitive penetrability”, Philosophical Studies 165: 167–175.

Week 5:     Implicit Attitudes.

  • Gendler, T. (2011). On the epistemic costs of implicit bias. Philosophical Studies 156: 33–63.
  • Mandelbaum, E. (2016). Attitude, association, and inference. On the propositional structure of implicit bias. Noûs 50(3): 629-658.

SECOND PART:

 

Week 6:     Overview and introduction to the second part of the course. Assignment of main discussant slots

  • T. Nagel (1979). “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?.” The Philosophical Review, 83 (4): 435-450.
  • F. Jackson (1986). “What Mary Didn't Know.” The Journal of Philosophy, 83 (5): 291-295.

Week 7: The transparency of experience.

  • M.G.F. Martin (2002). “The Transparency of Experience”. Mind & Language, 17 (4): 376–425. Introduction and §§1-2 (pp. 376-402).
  • M. Nida-Rümelin (2007). “Transparency of Experience and the Perceptual Model of Phenomenal Awareness”. Philosophical Perspectives, 21: 429-455.

Week 8:     Disjunctivism and perception-like hallucinations.

  • M. Soteriou (2013). The Mind's Construction. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Chapter 8, §8.2-§8.4.
  • M. Nudds (2013). “Naive Realism and Hallucinations”. In F. Macpherson and D. Platchias (eds.), Hallucination: Philosophy and Psychology. Cambridge (Mass.): MIT Press, pp. 271-292.

Week 9:     Introspection and higher-order perception theories.

  • C. Siewert (2012). “On the Phenomenology of Introspection”. In D. Smithies and D. Stoljar (eds.), Introspection and Consciousness. Oxford:Oxford University Press, pp. 229-267.

Week 10:   The problem of the explanatory gap.

  • J. Levine (1983). “Materialism and Qualia: The Explanatory Gap”. Pacific Philosophical Quaterley, 64: 354-361.
  • C. Siewert (2011). “Embodied Consciousness and the Explanatory Gap”. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 18 (5–6): 117–38.

Week 11.   Essay Clinic