Summer 2019 - PHIL 803 G100

Selected Topics in Metaphysics (5)

Phenomenal Concepts

Class Number: 4709

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 4:30 PM – 8:20 PM
    WMC 5602, Burnaby




[Note: this course is to be taught concurrently with PHIL 455W.]

Important note regarding enrollment: All seats are reserved for Philosophy Graduate students. Enrollments from other departments will be considered only upon submission of the Graduate Course Add Form, and with instructor's permission. All such enrollments will be done in or after the first week of classes.

Phenomenal concepts are the concepts we use to think about the contents of our phenomenal consciousness, or so, at least, they are characterized  in the literature They came into special prominence in the last quarter of a century in the central role they play in a physicalist response to Frank Jackson’s knowledge argument  first articulated by Brian Loar, roughly: what Mary learns, when she sees colours for the first time are not new non-physical facts, but new concepts.    There has been a deluge of literature on the topic, which seems to continue unabated to this day.   But what is the nature of these concepts?  Do they really exist?  We will look at some of the historical roots (in the British Empiricists and their 20th century heirs, as well as elsewhere) and the objections raised against them by philosophers like Wittgenstein, Dennett, and others.  Along the way, we hope to learn some things both about the nature and theory of concepts, and those of consciousness.   Inevitably, we also will spend some time on the  Knowledge argument and the phenomenal concept strategy or responding to it.


Successful completion of this course will satisfy the “Epistemology and Metaphysics” distribution requirement toward the MA degree.


  • Participation, including 6 reading summaries 15%
  • 2 presentations 20%
  • Final paper with draft 65%



All material will be available on Canvas

Graduate Studies Notes:

Important dates and deadlines for graduate students are found here: The deadline to drop a course with a 100% refund is the end of week 2. The deadline to drop with no notation on your transcript is the end of week 3.

Registrar Notes:

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