of the syllabus
Course: Philosophy of Mind
Instructor: Daniel Immerman
MW 9:30-10:45 in 220 Malloy
Office: 109 Malloy
Office hours: 1-3 on Monday or by appointment
Course website: http://www3.nd.edu/~dimmerma/teaching/43901-01.html
You do not need to purchase any texts for this class; all readings will
be available on the website.
In this course, we will discuss various questions in the philosophy of
mind. The course is divided into three sections:
- In the first third, we will look at various answers to a question
that has long been central to the philosophy of mind, namely: "What is
a mind?" We will look at some historical texts, but focus mostly on
articles from the past 50 years.
- In the second third, we will look at some other important debates
(with some input from you all as to topic), such as: Can machines have
minds? To what extent, and how, do our thoughts depend on the
- In the final third, we will look at some contemporary debates (of
your choosing) in the philosophy of mind.
In this course you will:
- Become familiar with positions and arguments in core areas of
analytic philosophy of mind, along with several more recent debates.
- Improve your ability, both orally and in written form, to identify an
author's claims, arguments, and objections in a text, to restate them
in your own words clearly and precisely, and to state and evaluate
responses to them.
- Practice identifying a philosophical topic you are interested in,
identifying a research question related to it, and writing a paper on
- Work out for yourself your own position on several of the debates we
In order to ensure that these goals are achieved, you will need to do
your part. In particular, many of the course goals require you to
develop your philosophical skills, which in turn requires practice.
With each reading assignment, there will be some questions for you to
think about as you do the reading. Answering these questions will help
you hone your philosophical skills.
In addition to practicing these skills at home, you will also be
practicing them in class. To accommodate this, the classes will not
have much lecturing in them. Because most of the time spent in class
will be time when you are talking, it is integral that you come to
class prepared and participate in class discussions.
Here is the breakdown of grades in the class:
- Reading response papers:
During each of the three sections of the course, you will write a short
paper (under 700 words) responding to a particular day's reading. (You
will have some choice regarding which days you write these papers. The
first will be due sometime between January 18 and February 15, the
second between February 22 and March 30, and the third between April 4
and April 25) Each will be worth 6 percent of your grade, so together
they are worth 18 percent of your grade.
- Final paper and accompanying steps:
In addition, throughout the course, you will be working on a longer
paper, which will ultimately be at least 2500 words. I will not assign
a topic, instead, you will be responsible for selecting it. In the
third week of the semester, (January 27), you will turn in an abstract
in which you describe what you plan to argue in your paper. This
abstract will be graded pass/fail/didn't turn in and worth 2 percent of
About a third of the way through the semester, either on February 17 or
March 2 you will have a ``poster session'' in which you will create a
poster of what you plan to be arguing in your final paper and present
it to your fellow classmates. This will be worth 5 percent of your
About two thirds of the way through the semester, you will film a
presentation of your talking through your paper, which I will post on
the course website. (You will have some choice regarding when this is
due, it will be due sometime between March 30 and April 18). In class,
we will do a question and answer session about your paper. This will be
worth 10 percent of your grade.
The final draft of the paper will be due near the end of the semester
(April 26) and worth 35 percent of your grade.
On at least six days in the semester we will have pop quizzes. There
won't be any before the third week of the semester. The material on
these will come from that day's readings plus material from previous
classes. They will be worth 15 percent of your grade in total. They
can't be made up, but if you miss one because of an excused absence,
I'll drop that one from your grade. I will drop your lowest pop quiz
I will also be grading you based on participation. I will pass out a
rubric on the first day that indicates what you need to do to get a
good participation grade. Participation is worth 15 percent of your
grade. I'll check in with you regarding how you're doing on
participation at some point in the middle of the semester, but you
should also feel free to contact me at any point if you want to know
how you're doing on participation.
I will be using a 15 point scale:
15 = A
14 = A-
13 = B+
12 = B
11 = B-
10 = C+
9 = C
8 = C-
6 = D
3 = F
0 = Didn't turn in
I may on occasion give assignments a 16, which would correspond to an
A+, or a 17, which would correspond to an A++. (The highest final grade
I can give is an A).
On rounding: when calculating your final grade, if the first decimal of
a grade is 5 or higher, I will round up, and if it is 4 or lower, I
will round down. So e.g. an average of a 9.499 is a C, while an average
of a 9.500 is a C+.
Notre Dame students are expected to abide by Academic Code of Honor
Pledge. "As a member of the Notre Dame community, I will not
participate in or tolerate academic dishonesty.'' The university
academic code of honor is available at http://honorcode.nd.edu/. The
philosophy department also has a document on plagiarism, which is
available at http://philosophy.nd.edu/assets/77703/plagiarism.pdf.
I take issues of plagiarism very seriously. If you're ever in doubt
about an issue in this area, please come talk to me.
If you think you might need an accommodation because of a disability,
you can contact me privately. Please also contact the Office of
Disability Services. Their contact information is available at http://disabilityservices.nd.edu/about/contact
I don't take off points for attendance, but missing class without
having a valid excuse will keep you from being able to complete certain
in-class assignments, e.g. pop-quizzes, that may affect your grade.
The assignments vary with regards to late policies; I will include the
late policies on the assignment sheets.
Reading drafts of papers
I will look at as many drafts of assignments as you care to send me,
with the following exceptions. I will not read a draft turned in less
than 48 hours (2 days) before the paper is due. Also, if I send a draft
with comments back to you, you should wait at least 48 hours (2 days)
before sending me a new draft to look at.