LANGUAGE AND MIND

PHIL 345, Sec. 001: TTh 11:30am-1pm in 3437 Mason Hall
The University of Michigan
Winter 2005


Instructor: James Woodbridge
email address: jwood@umich.edu
Course Webpage: http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jwood/umich/Phil345.htm
Office Hours: T 2pm-3:30pm, W 1pm-2pm, and by appointment
Office: 2200 Angell Hall
Office Phone: 615-6537
Dept. Phone: 764-6285

I. COURSE DESCRIPTION

The topics of language and mind provide some of philosophy's most intriguing questions. How is it that certain noises or marks that people make--mere physical entities in the world--can be about other entities? How does language "hook onto" the world? How is thought connected to reality? What is thinking and what makes a state of some entity specifically a mental state, as opposed to a physical one? This course provides an introduction to the philosophies of language and mind, two central fields from contemporary analytic philosophy. Our focus will be on two highly influential theories in these areas from the second half of the 20th century: the causal theory of reference (in philosophy of language) and functionalism (in philosophy mind). In examining the former, we will also consider the distinction between sense and reference, descriptivist accounts of reference, externalism about content, and the nature of communication. While evaluating the functionalist account of the mental, we will also explore the relationship between the mental and the physical, the nature of consciousness, and the possibility of artificial intelligence. Among the thinkers we will study are Gottlob Frege, Bertrand Russell, Saul Kripke, Hilary Putnam, J.L. Austin, H.P. Grice, John Searle, Jerry Fodor, David Lewis, David Chalmers, and Daniel Dennett.

II. REQUIRED CLASS MATERIALS

Books:

Crumley, Jack S. (ed.) Problems in Mind. Mountain View, CA: Mayfield Publishing, 2000.
Kripke, S. Naming and Necessity. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1980.
Stainton, Robert J. (ed.) Perspectives in the Philosophy of Language: A Concise Anthology.
      Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2000.

The books for the course are available at Shaman Drum Bookstore, upstairs at 313 S. State Street.
(They are also on reserve at the Undergraduate Library.)
There will also be a few on-line readings linked to the course Webpage.

III. CLASS REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING SCHEME

Requirements.............................................Percent of Final Grade

Class Participation......................................................10%
First Paper...................................................................30%
Second Paper...............................................................30%
Final Exam..................................................................30%

About the Requirements:

Class Participation--One thing this requirement covers is your class attendance (surprisingly, if you don't attend class you don't participate in it). However, to get an "A" for class participation you must do more than just show up; you have to contribute frequently to class discussion. You are expected to arrive having read the assignment for the day and ready to talk about it constructively and analytically. A further element of this requirement involves posting contributions on the Electronic Discussion Board (available through CourseTools). Everyone must make at least six entries on the EDB during the term, either commenting on or asking a (substantive) question about a reading, following up on class discussion, or responding to a comment or question posted by someone else. Three postings must be made before Break and three after.

The First Paper--There will be a 4-6 page paper due in mid February. Topics will be posted on the course Webpage 9 days before the paper is due, and all papers are due at the beginning of class on the due date. Late papers will be subject to a substantial grade reduction (you really don't want to find out how much).

The Second Paper--There will be a second, 4-6 page paper due in mid April. Topics will be posted on the course Webpage 9 days before the paper is due. Late submission is still not a good idea.

The Final Exam--There will be a timed (2 hour), in-class final exam given during the scheduled exam time for the class. The final will consist of a choice of essay questions.


Note: All assigments must be satisfactorily completed in order to pass the course.


IV. CLASS FORMAT

The class will be a mixture of lecture and discussion, and I want to encourage discussion. I hope that you will all have views about the topics we will address, and I want you to express and explore those views whenever possible. It is typical of philosophical topics that people's views on them differ. You are encouraged to question your classmates (and me) when anyone says something you disagree with, but while this is going on everyone should always keep in mind that disagreement is not a personal attack. Philosophical discussion thrives under this kind of interaction and often stems from disagreement. At the same time, philosophical discussion aims at reaching some sort of agreement. We probably won't reach agreement every time, but we should aspire toward it.



V. TOPICS AND READINGS

Readings from the Stainton anthology, Perspectives in the Philosophy of Language, are indicated by author, selection title, and "PPL" followed by page numbers in parentheses. Readings from the Crumley anthology are indicated by author, selection title, and "PM" followed by page numbers in parentheses. On-line readings are labeled as such.

A note about the readings: As you well know, philosophical writing is often subtle and difficult. This is especially true of the reading assignments for this course, many of which are also somewhat technical; most of them should be read at least twice. It also helps to take notes on separate paper while reading.

The course units and readings for them are as follows.

1. Sense, Reference, and the Causal Theory
Frege, Gottlob. "Ueber Sinn und Bedeutung (On Sense and Reference)" (PPL 45-64)
Russell, Bertrand. "Descriptions" (PPL 65-74)
Russell, "On Denoting" (on-line)
Strawson, P. F. "On Referring" (PPL 289-311)
Donnellan, Keith. "Reference and Definite Descriptions" (PPL 313-332)
Kripke, Saul. Naming and Necessity
Kripke, Saul. "Identity and Necessity" (PPL 93-121)
Putnam, Hilary. "Meaning and Reference" (on-line)
2. Meaning and Communication
Grice, H. P. "Meaning" (PPL 127-136)
Grice, "Logic and Conversation" (PPL 271-287)
Austin, J. L. "Performative Utterances" (PPL 239-252)
Searle, John. "What Is a Speech Act?" (PPL 253-268)
3. Functionalism and The Mental
Fodor, Jerry. "The Mind-Body Problem" (PM 118-129)
Putnam, Hilary. "The Nature of Mental States" (PM 102-109)
Lewis, David. "Mad Pain and Martian Pain" (PM 110-117)
Block, Ned. "Troubles with Functionalism" (PM 130-162)
Nagel, Thomas. "What Is It Like to Be a Bat?" (PM 534-542)
Jackson, Frank. "Epiphenomenal Qualia" (PM 556-563)
Churchland, Paul and Patricia. "Functionalism, Qualia, and Intentionality" (PM 163-177)
Churchland, Paul. "Reduction, Qualia, and the Direct Introspection of Brain States"
       (PM 564-576)
Jackson, Frank. "What Mary Didn't Know" (PM 577-580)
Chalmers, David. "Can Consciousness Be Reductively Explained?" (PM 588-598)
Searle, John. "Can Computers Think?" (PM 372-378)
Boden, Margaret. "Escaping from the Chinese Room" (PM 379-388)
Dennett, Daniel. "The Myth of Original Intentionality" (PM 389-400)