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Unit Overview


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.

6 points
Not available in 2024UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 option in the Philosophy major sequence
  • Level 2 elective

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.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Chris Letheby
Unit rules
any Level 1 Philosophy unit
or PSYC1101 Psychology: Mind and Brain
PHIL2265 Philosophy of Mind
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week
tutorials: 1 hour per week
  • 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.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.