Philosophy of Mind (Online)

Overview

The philosophy of mind is one of the most exciting areas within philosophy. It is concerned with questions about the nature of mind and the relation between our minds and the physical world. This online course provides an introduction to philosophy of mind by introducing you to the mind-body problem, one of the most intractable problems in philosophy.

Listen to Marianne Talbot talking about the course:

Students will be guided through their reading of various classical and contemporary works on the mind-body problem, and encouraged to think for themselves about the problems addressed. They will engage in various optional activities to stimulate personal reflection, and will contribute to group discussions designed to create a supportive online community with the common task of acquiring an understanding. By the end of the course students should feel confident of their own position on the mind-body problem – even if it is one of not having made up their mind!

For information on how the courses work, please click here.

Programme details

The areas you will cover in this course are:

1. Introduction

  • The mind-body problem
  • Two types of mental state
  • Rationality and normativity
  • Complications
  • The mental and the physical
  • The philosophical method
  • The principle of charity
  • Evaluating an argument

2. Cartesian dualism

  • Background to Meditation II
  • Descartes’ project
  • Meditation I: three levels of doubt
  • The evil demon
  • Meditation II
  • Background to Meditation VI
  • The real distinction
  • Problems for Cartesian dualism

3. Type-identity theory

  • Before type-identity theory
  • Type-identity theory
  • Counter-intuitions
  • Contingent identities
  • The necessity of identity
  • Epistemology and metaphysics
  • Designation and rigidity
  • Where are we?
  • No choice at all
  • Science and philosophy

4. Functionalism

  • Theoretical states
  • ‘Inner’ states
  • Multiple realisability
  • Non-reductive physicalism
  • Functionalism and intuitions about functional roles
  • Functionalism and qualia
  • Functional roles and the attitudes
  • Rational holism
  • Functionalism and intuitions

5. Anomalous monism

  • Background to AM
  • Dissolving the inconsistency
  • Anomalous monism
  • AM and the mind-body problem
  • The causal exclusion argument
  • Causation vs. causal explanation
  • Reason explanation
  • Causal exclusion re-visited

6. Reading week

  • Taking stock

7. Eliminativism

  • Theoretical states and ontology
  • An inductive argument
  • Replacing reason explanations
  • Eliminativism and determinism
  • The state of play

8. Epiphenomenalism

  • Interactionism
  • The contents of consciousness
  • Ephiphenomenalism and qualia
  • The attitudes
  • Counter-intuitions
  • Libet’s results

9. Externalism

  • Twin Earth
  • A look into the past
  • Narrow psychology
  • Putnam’s answers
  • The upshot of Putnam’s answers
  • Externalism
  • Descartes again
  • The priority of interpretation
  • Undermining Descartes
  • Externalism and interactionism
  • A problem for externalism

10. Making up your mind

  • Twin Earth
  • A look into the past
  • Narrow psychology
  • Putnam’s answers
  • The upshot of Putnam’s answers
  • Externalism
  • Descartes again
  • The priority of interpretation
  • Undermining Descartes
  • Externalism and interactionism
  • A problem for externalism
  • Concluding points


We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.

Certification

Credit Application Transfer Scheme (CATS) points 

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £30 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £30 fee. 

See more information on CATS point

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education, you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee. 

 

Digital credentials

All students who pass their final assignment, whether registered for credit or not, will be eligible for a digital Certificate of Completion. Upon successful completion, you will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course. The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so. 

Please note that assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail. 

Fees

Description Costs
Course Fee £385.00
Take this course for CATS points £30.00

Funding

If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit, you are a full-time student in the UK or a student on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees. Please see the below link for full details:

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Concessionary fees for short courses

Tutor

Mr Istvan Musza

Istvan has an MA in philosophy and political philosophy. He has spent some time in Oxford, Jesus College where he joined this thrilling online project. His favorite areas in philosophy are moral and political philosophy, metaphysics and epistemology and he is a big science fiction fan.

Course aims

This course aims to introduce students to philosophy of mind and in particular to the problem of the relation between the mind and the body, by:

  • Guiding them through a number of classical and contemporary readings.
  • Helping them to think for themselves about these important but difficult issues.


This course will:

  • Introduce students to philosophical thinking.
  • Guide students’ reading through a number of classical and contemporary papers.
  • Help participants understand the mind-body problem.
  • Familiarise students with the key arguments for and against the main positions in the debate about the mind-body problem.
  • Enable students to think for themselves about the issues involved in the mind-body problem.

Teaching methods

  • Guided reading of texts.
  • Group discussions of particular issues.
  • Questions to be answered in personal folders.
  • Debating from positions given rather than from personal belief (to hone skills of debate).

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will have gained the following skills:

  • The ability to think philosophically.
  • The ability to describe the main arguments for and against the main positions in the mind-body debate.
  • The ability constructively to criticise the arguments of philosophers.
  • The ability to explicate their own view on the mind-body problem.

Assessment methods

You will be set two pieces of work for the course. The first of 500 words is due halfway through your course. This does not count towards your final outcome but preparing for it, and the feedback you are given, will help you prepare for your assessed piece of work of 1,500 words due at the end of the course. The assessed work is marked pass or fail.

English Language Requirements

We do not insist that applicants hold an English language certification, but warn that they may be at a disadvantage if their language skills are not of a comparable level to those qualifications listed on our website. If you are confident in your proficiency, please feel free to enrol. For more information regarding English language requirements please follow this link: https://www.conted.ox.ac.uk/about/english-language-requirements

Application

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an Enrolment form for short courses | Oxford University Department for Continuing Education

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.