Instructor: Kevin T. Kelly, Professor
Office: 135 K BH
Office hours: M, T 11:00-12:00
Contact: X 8567, firstname.lastname@example.org
Room: BH 150
Time: M 4:30-6:50
Text: articles available for download in pdf format from this page.
Undergraduates: short reading questions and two short (5 pgs) essays related to the course.
Graduates: reading outlines and two longer (9 pgs) essays related to the course.
I am looking for concise, incisive prose. Therefore, length limitations will be taken very seriously. Write a paper of double length and cut it down to size. Also, the reading questions are intended to give you credit for the time you spent on timely class preparation so that the class discussions are smooth and rewarding for all. Therefore, late submissions, for any reason, will be penalized by 20%.
Description: This course investigates some basic relations between epistemology, philosophy of mind, and the concept of computation. In Plato and Descartes, a dualistic conception of mind is motivated by a quest for mathematical certainty. Behaviorists were motivated by epistemological ideas drawn from logical positivism. The concept of computation was developed, in part, to ground the consistency of mathematical method but also came to provide a new, “cognitive” conception of mind as the operation of a high-level computer programming running in the “wet-ware” of the brain, which led to the development of artificial intelligence programs alleged to think the way humans do. Finally, philosophical theories of rationality are heavily informed by behaviorism and are also interestingly constrained by computability.
Reading questions (answers due Sept. 8):
D. Kalupahana, “A Buddhist Tract on Empiricism”.
J. Locke, “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding”, Book II Chapter I, 1-5, 24-25, chapter XII 1-8, XXIII 1-5.
D. Hume “Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding”, Sections I-VI and Section XIII, Part III.
C. S. Peirce, “How to Make our Ideas Clear”
A. J. Ayer “The Elimination of Metaphysics”
Reading questions (answers due Sept. 15):
Gilbert Ryle, The Concept of Mind, chapters 1 and 2.
R. Carnap, “Psychology in Physical Language” excerpt.
Frank Ramsey, “Truth and Probability”, up to section 4.
John B. Watson, Behaviorism, chapter 1.
Reading questions (answers due Sept. 22):
R. Carnap, “Meaning Postulates”, Meaning and Necessity, 1947.
W.V.O. Quine, “Two Dogmas of Empiricism”, Philosophical Review 1951.
W.V.O. Quine, Word and Object, chapter 2.
Reading Questions (answers due Sept. 29):
Epicurus’ Letter to Herodotus.
Hobbes’ Leviathan, Part One, Chapter I.
Herbert Feigl, “Logical Reconstruction, Realism and Pure Semiotic”, Philosophy of Science, 17:1950. start at p. 194, first full paragraph beginning: “At the risk of provoking intense controversy…” (!)
Hilary Putnam, “What is Mathematical Truth”, in Mathematics, Matter, and Method, 1979. Read the short selection indicated between arrows.
J. J. C. Smart, “Sensations and brain processes”, in The Mind-Brain Identity Theory, C. V. Borst, ed., 1970.
Reading Questions (answers due Oct. 6):
Make sure you remember the arguments for realism and Smart’s objections and replies.
H. Putnam, originally in Art, Mind, and
Religion, W. H. Capitan and D.D. Merrill,
A. M. Turing, “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”, in Mind 59: 433-460.
A. Newell and H. A. Simon, “Computer
Science as Empirical Inquiry: Symbols and Search”, in Mind Design, J. Haugeland ed.,
David Marr, Vision,
Supplementary text on Turing machines:
to the Theory of Computation,
Reading Questions (answers due Oct. 13):
Mid-term papers due Oct 20.
Undergraduates: 4 pages + footnotes and references.
Graduates: 5 pages + footnotes and references.
Critically compare and contrast at least two topics covered in class.
Examine at least 4 outside sources on the topic (use Google and Jstor to help).
Emphasize clarity, accuracy, and succinctness over originality on this paper.
G. W. F Leibniz, Monadology, selection.
John Searle, “Minds, Brains, and Programs”, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 23: 417-457.
John Preston, “Introduction”, in Views Into the Chinese Room, Johyn Preston and Mark Bishop, eds, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.
Reading Questions (answers due Oct. 27):
Sydney Shoemaker, “The Inverted Spectrum”, Journal of Philosophy 79: 357-381.
Tim Maudlin (1989), “Computation and Consciousness”, Journal of Philosophy: 407-432.
David Rumelhart (1989), “Connectionist
Modeling: Neural Computatoin/Mental Connections”,
in Mind Design, J. Haugeland ed.,
1. What is the supervenience thesis and how does Maudlin strengthen it?
2. Succinctly summarize Maudlin’s argument and distinguish it from “funny instantiation” arguments.
3. What is connectionism and how might it relate to Maudlin’s objection?
4. What are the alleged advantages of connectionist models?
This is a fun and spooky article that provides one possible escape from Maudlin’s argument against serial AI.
Daniel Dennett (1992), “Time and the Observer”, Behavioral and Brain Sciences 15, 183-247.
Anti-realists like empiricists and behaviorists think that hidden states are inscrutable or meaningless because alternative internal arrangements are compatible with experience. Realists respond that, nonetheless, some arrangements are simpler and therefore better supported by the observations than others (think of Dennett’s article last time, which claimed that multiple drafts is more parsimonious than the Cartesian theater). That is an appeal to Ockham’s razor or inference to the simplest explanation. It is therefore a pivotal issue in the realism debate to explain how a fixed bias toward simplicity could help science find the truth better than some other fixed bias unless it is assumed at the outset that the truth is simple. We will look at a novel answer to that question.
Kevin Kelly (2008), “Ockham’s
Razor, Truth, and Information”, in The
Philosophy of Information, P. Adriaans and J. Van