PHIL2004 Philosophy of Mind

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 1UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 option in the Philosophy major sequence
  • The area of knowledge for this unit is Society and Culture
  • Category B broadening unit for students
  • Level 2 elective
Philosophy of mind is one of the central areas in philosophy and has been a major focus of attention in recent years. Students become familiar with some of the major historical and contemporary debates in this field of philosophy such as whether or not the mind is physical in nature. The unit surveys a variety of competing theories such as behaviourism, mind–brain identity theory, functionalism and dualism. The answer to this debate helps determine the issue of whether one can build a machine that has a mind. Of course, this raises questions about what it is to have a mind. Must there be some rudimentary intelligence? If a machine can play chess, does it have a mind? Does a mind (or its owner) have to house the capacity to feel such things as pleasure and pain? Must it be able to think? What is it to have a thought about something such as a unicorn? Can we ever tell if a machine is conscious, and what is consciousness? Must something be conscious for it to have a mind? Consciousness is one of the biggest remaining mysteries in the world today and the unit addresses questions that enable us to think about the issue more clearly.
Students are able to (1) independently interpret complex philosophical texts; (2) demonstrate an understanding of complex philosophical arguments and positions; (3) evaluate complex philosophical positions and arguments; (4) weigh the virtues and vices of competing philosophical doctrines; (5) construct persuasive arguments concerning difficult philosophical issues; (6) demonstrate advanced written communication and research skills; (7) reflect on the nature and purpose of philosophy and philosophical argumentation; (8) identify and describe key periods, concepts and theories in recent philosophy of mind; (9) distinguish a variety of dualist and physicalist views in the philosophy of mind; (10) evaluate theories concerning the representational powers of the mind; (11) evaluate theories of consciousness; and (12) describe the interplay of epistemological and metaphysical issues in philosophy of mind.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) essays; (2) a two-hour end-of-semester examination; and (3) class participation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Clas Weber
Unit rules
any Level 1 Philosophy unit
PSYC1101 Psychology: Mind and Brain
PHIL2265 Philosophy of Mind
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week; tutorials: 1 hour per week
Unit Outline
Semester 1-2020 [SEM-1-2020]
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.