Academic year
2019/2020
Teachers
Josefa Toribio and Manolo Martínez
Department
Department of Philosophy
University
Universitat de Barcelona
Itinerary
Master courses
Module
Module 4. Language and Mind
Code
570633
Credits
5
Language
English
Dates
2020-02-13 - 2020-04-30
Schedule
Thursdays: 10:00-13:00
Location
411 - Facultat de Filosofia UB

Description

Course Aims and Objectives

In this course, we will examine central problems in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science, and critically assess influential responses to them.

 

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-perceptual, 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 we will discuss a few important issues relating to the nature and the role of representations in cognition: What makes a certain brain state a representation? What is the format of representations? What are concepts? How are representations created and maintained?

 

Content of the Course

 

Week 1:    Overview and introduction to the course.

                 Assignment of presentations

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: what are they?

Week 6:   Implicit attitudes and epistemic justification

Week 7:    Representation: teleosemantics and information

Week 8:    The format of representation: mental imagery

Week 9:   Concepts: prototypes and exemplars

Week 10:  Concepts: theory theories

Week 11:  The Bayesian brain

 

The course will be taught in English. All material subject to assessment must be written in English. Classes begin on February 13th. Classes end on May 7th.

 

Week 1 will be dedicated to an overview of the course and organisational matters. Main discussant slots will be allocated. Please do not miss this first meeting.


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 3000-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 links on how to write a philosophy paper.

At least one long abstract (500-1000 words) must be submitted for approval and feedback by May 14th. Students are encouraged (but not required) to submit a full draft of the final essay by May 28th. 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 11th by 12 (noon).

(Guidelines on evaluation and marking, including a note on originality and plagiarism, are available at http://www.ub.edu/aphil/en/guidelines-on-evaluation-and-marking-8).

 

Deadlines:

  • May 14th: Long abstract of essay to be agreed with the instructor(s).
  • May 28th (optional): Draft of the whole essay, in order to receive feedback by the instructor(s).
  • June 11th: 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.

 

Re-evaluation: Students who fail to pass this course will be offered the opportunity to turn in a 3000-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. The final mark for this course will be entirely based on the academic quality of this essay. The deadline for turning this essay in is September 4th, by 12:00 noon.

It is still compulsory to send a long abstract of the essay to be agreed with the instructor(s) by May 14th. In order to receive feedback by the instructor(s), we encourage students to send a draft of the whole essay by May 28th.

 

 

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

General Web Resources

 

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

http://www.iep.utm.edu/

 

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html

 

Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind

http://host.uniroma3.it/progetti/kant/field/

 

Philosophy and Cognitive Science. Selected bibliography:

http://www.phil.mq.edu.au/staff/jsutton/CogSciIndex.html

 

PhilPapers: Philosophy of Mind:

http://philpapers.org/browse/philosophy-of-mind

 

Useful websites on how to write philosophy papers:

 

Writing a Philosophy Paper (Peter Horban):

http://www.sfu.ca/philosophy/writing.htm

 

Guide to the Study of Philosophy (Garth Kemerling):

http://www.philosophypages.com/sy.htm

 

Tips on Writing a Philosophy Paper (Douglas Portmore):

www.public.asu.edu/~dportmor/tips.pdf

 

Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper (James Pryor):

http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/writing.html

 

Avoiding and Detecting Plagiarism (CUNY Guidelines)

https://www.gc.cuny.edu/CUNY_GC/media/CUNY-Graduate-Center/PDF/Publications/AvoidingPlagiarism.pdf

Useful readings collections:

 

Tim Crane (ed.). The Contents of Experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. [Crane]

  1. Noë & E. T. Thompson (eds.). Vision and Mind. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002. [Noë]
  2. S. Gendler & J. Hawthorne (eds.): Perceptual Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. [Gendler]

 

 

COURSE OUTLINE:

 

FIRST PART:

 

Week 1:     Course overview. 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 (2006), “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.

 

Week 5:     Implicit attitudes: what are they?

  • Toribio, J. (2018). Implicit biases: from social structure to representational format. Theoria 33(1): 41–60.
  • Mandelbaum, E. (2016). Attitude, association, and inference: On the propositional structure of implicit bias. Noûs 50(3): 629–658.

 

Week 6:     Implicit attitudes and epistemic justification

  • Puddifoot, K. (2016). Accessibilism and the challenge from implicit bias. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly, 97: 421–434.
  • Toribio, J. (2018). “Accessibilism, implicit bias, and epistemic justification”. Synthese. DOI: 10.1007/s11229-018-1795-7.

 

 

SECOND PART:

 

Week 7: Representation: teleosemantics and information

  • Millikan, R. 2009. “Biosemantics.” In The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Mind, edited by B McLaughlin and A Beckermann. Oxford University Press.
  • Dretske, F. 1981. Knowledge and the Flow of Information. The MIT Press.

 

Week 8:     The format of representation: mental imagery

  • Moulton, Samuel T., and Stephen M. Kosslyn. 2009. “Imagining Predictions: Mental Imagery as Mental Emulation.” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 364 (1521): 1273–80. https://doi.org/10.1098/rstb.2008.0314.
  • Nanay, Bence. 2010. “Perception and Imagination: Amodal Perception as Mental Imagery.” Philosophical Studies 150 (2): 239–54. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11098-009-9407-5.

 

Week 9:     Concepts: the probabilistic turn

  • Margolis, Eric, and Stephen Laurence. 1999. Concepts: Core Readings. Mit Press. Chapters 8 and 9

 

Week 10:   Concepts: Theory Theories

  • Rehder, Bob. 2003. “Categorization as Causal Reasoning⋆.” Cognitive Science 27 (5): 709–748.
  • Pearl, Judea. 2009. Causality. Cambridge university press, Chapter 2.

 

Week 11: The Bayesian Brain

  • Clark, Andy. 2013. “Whatever Next? Predictive Brains, Situated Agents, and the Future of Cognitive Science.” Behavioral and Brain Sciences 36 (3): 181–204. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0140525x12000477.
  • Knill, David C., and Alexandre Pouget. 2004. “The Bayesian Brain: The Role of Uncertainty in Neural Coding and Computation.” Trends in Neurosciences 27 (12): 712–19. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tins.2004.10.007

 


Other considerations

General Web Resources
 

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

http://www.iep.utm.edu/

 

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

http://plato.stanford.edu/contents.html

 

Field Guide to the Philosophy of Mind

http://host.uniroma3.it/progetti/kant/field/

 

Philosophy and Cognitive Science. Selected bibliography:

http://www.phil.mq.edu.au/staff/jsutton/CogSciIndex.html

 

PhilPapers: Philosophy of Mind:

http://philpapers.org/browse/philosophy-of-mind

 

Useful websites on how to write philosophy papers:

 

Writing a Philosophy Paper (Peter Horban):

http://www.sfu.ca/philosophy/writing.htm

 

Guide to the Study of Philosophy (Garth Kemerling):

http://www.philosophypages.com/sy.htm

 

Tips on Writing a Philosophy Paper (Douglas Portmore):

www.public.asu.edu/~dportmor/tips.pdf

 

Guidelines on Writing a Philosophy Paper (James Pryor):

http://www.jimpryor.net/teaching/guidelines/writing.html

 

Avoiding and Detecting Plagiarism (CUNY Guidelines)

https://www.gc.cuny.edu/CUNY_GC/media/CUNY-Graduate-Center/PDF/Publications/AvoidingPlagiarism.pdf

 

Useful readings collections:

Tim Crane (ed.). The Contents of Experience. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1993. [Crane]

A. Noë & E. T. Thompson (eds.). Vision and Mind. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2002. [Noë]

T. S. Gendler & J. Hawthorne (eds.): Perceptual Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press. [Gendler]