Summer 2018 - PHIL 343 D100

Philosophy of Mind (3)

Class Number: 4641

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 1:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    WMC 2507, Burnaby

    Th 12:30 PM – 2:20 PM
    WMC 3255, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    Either one of: PHIL 201 or 203; or both of PHIL 100W (or equivalent) and COGS 200.



A study of theories of the mind, consciousness, and human action.


“It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious.”
                                                                                                   Alfred North Whitehead

The subject matter of this course is not all “obvious”, but surely you think (or thought prior to taking some philosophy) that you know the workings of your own mind, at least quite a lot of the time, that other humans have minds in much the way you do, and that some of your actions are the result of some of your beliefs.  But what is a “mind”?  To avoid the impression that a mind is an object of some sort, perhaps a better question is what makes a state a mental state?  What is the relationship between mental states and physical states (the mind/body problem)?  What sorts of things can “have” mental states?  How do we account for the intentionality (the “aboutness,” if you will) of some (all?) mental states?  Are any mental states causally efficacious, and if so, how?  What is consciousness and can we (and if so, how might we) explain it?  Deliciously, not one of these questions has a fully-agreed-upon answer.  We will aim for a critical overview of some of the main contemporary contenders.


  • Participation (15% for emailed study questions, 5% for in-class contributions—details in the first week) 20%
  • First paper 25%
  • Midterm (in-class late in the term—details in the first week) 25%
  • Second paper 30%


Written work for this course will be submitted via Turnitin, a third party service licensed for use by SFU. Turnitin is used for originality checking to help detect plagiarism. Students will be required to create an account with Turnitin, and to submit their work via that account, on the terms stipulated in the agreement between the student and Turnitin. This agreement includes the retention of the submitted work as part of the Turnitin database. Any student with a concern about using the Turnitin service may opt to use an anonymous identity in their interactions with Turnitin. Students who do not intend to use Turnitin in the standard manner must notify the instructor at least two weeks in advance of any submission deadline. In particular, it is the responsibility of any student using the anonymous option (i.e. false name and temporary e-mail address created for the purpose) to inform the instructor such that the instructor can match up the anonymous identity with the student.



All required material will be available on-line.

The text is Philosophy of Mind. 3rd edition. Jaegwon Kim, Westview Press, 2011, ISBN 978-0-8133-4458-4.  The BookStore will not be stocking it, as it is available for free via the Library:  But if you find hardcopy more convenient (and don’t want to print up a bunch of pdfs), you can probably order it on-line quite cheaply.

The other required readings will be available as pdfs on-line (password-protected, so only for registered students) via the class website.  This is much cheaper for you than a hardcopy anthology, though (i) you don’t get a cool hefty book for your shelf, (ii) you don’t get to flip through fascinating but unassigned articles, and (iii) you must exercise due diligence in accessing the readings and (if you’re like me) printing them up. 


Writing Philosophy: A Guide for Canadian Students, 2nd edition.  Lewis Vaughn and Jillian Scott McIntosh, Oxford University Press, 2012, ISBN 978-0-19-544674-6
This book will be particularly useful if you are relatively new to writing philosophy papers.  If you’re an old hand, then not so much.  Flip through it and decide.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University.