Philosophy 375: Special Topics/Philosophy of Psychology

Spring Semester, 2004
Jacksonville University
Dr. Scott Kimbrough
Office: Council 127
Office hours: M/W 9:45-11:45, or by appointment
Office phone: 256-7118
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Last updated 4/5/04

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Course Description:

What is the mind? How is it related to the body? Is psychology reducible to more basic sciences, or does it have an autonomous subject matter? This course surveys contemporary attempts to answer questions such as these. Theories covered include dualism, mind-brain identity theory, functionalism, instrumentalism, and eliminative materialism. We will also explore the contemporary controversy over the nature of consciousness.

Required Book:

Timothy O'Connor and David Robb (eds.), Philosophy of Mind: Contemporary Readings, Routledge Contemporary Readings in Philosophy, 2003.

Course Requirements:

Participation and Attendance: Attendance and participation in discussions are expected.

Savage Attacks and Bristling Defenses (5% each): Each student will savagely attack a course text on two occasions. More politely, the goal is to identify and present to the class the strongest philosophical objections to the reading for the day. A second student will be responsible for defending the author.

Midterm Quiz (10%): The exam will cover major concepts and distinctions. It will include essay and short answer sections.

Argumentative Essays (15% each): Two five to seven page argumentative essays will be assigned.

Research Paper (20%): A ten to twelve page research paper further investigating one of the philosophers or philosophical theories we study is due Thursday, 4/15.

Final Exam (20%): The exam is comprehensive. It will not be a take-home exam.

Rules of the game:

We will consider a variety of points of view in this course, some of which are favorable to religion and others of which are not. The purpose of our investigations is to explore, as openly and objectively as we can, the philosophical justification for the views presented in the course texts. In this process, neither the truth nor the falsity of any specific religious faith or text will be taken for granted. In short, as noted above, ours will be a philosophical study of religion, not a religious study of religion. This is not to deny the possibility of the latter form of study, but to insist on an open-minded attitude that is both fair and slow to take offense.


There is no worse academic sin than plagiarism. Plagiarism consists in copying the work of another, in whole or in part, without citing the source. Plagiarized papers will receive a zero.


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