PHIL-491 Philosophy of Mind/Cog Sci
Fall for 2013-2014
One of the reasons cognitive science is such a land of plenty for philosophers is that so many of its questions—not just the grand bird’s-eye view questions but quite proximal, in-the-lab-now questions—are still ill thought out, prematurely precipitated into forms that deserve critical reevaluation. If philosophy is, as my bumper sticker slogan has it, what you’re doing until you figure out just what questions to ask, then there is a lot of philosophy to be done by cognitive scientists these days." In this course we will attempt to examine some of the core issues in the philosophy of cognitive science that deserve this sort of critical revaluation. The main focus of the course will be on the issue of memory. What is it, and how do we study it. Over the course of the semester we will look at a number of broad issues about the methodology that ought to be adopted in studying the mind. We will ask whether the mind is best understood in computational terms; we will ask whether the mind is a system of dedicated modules; and we will ask whether the mind extends beyond the boundaries of skin-and-skull. Over the course of the semester you will write two short papers, and you will be expected to in class discussion. No previous knowledge of cognitive science is required; however, some previous background in the psychology, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, or metaphysics is likely to be helpful.
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