Phil 340.001: Philosophy of Mind

Fall 2021, MW 10:10-11:25 am, Caldwell 213, 3 credits

Professor Jim Pryor (he/him)

Sakai Site

UNC students enrolled in the course (or otherwise authorized by the instructor) can access the Sakai webpages for this course at

Those pages include the Zoom links for the course meetings and for Professor Pryor’s office hours. (These can also be retrieved from this restricted page.)

There’s not much else there. I’m still learning how to work within and around Sakai’s constraints. Currently, most of the course’s content is published here, outside of that system, and can also be viewed by people not enrolled in the course.

This front web page won’t be updated frequently. Regular announcements, readings, and lecture notes will be posted here instead.

Catalog Listing

PHIL 340. Philosophy of Mind. 3 Credits.
The mind-body problem, the nature of thinking, the puzzles of consciousness, and the qualitative character of felt experience.
Requisites: Prerequisite, one previous PHIL course.
Gen Ed: PH.
Grading status: Letter grade.

Course Description

This course is a survey of central issues in contemporary philosophy of mind. We’ll be considering:

These don’t exhaust the issues discussed in philosophy of mind, but they are a representative overview and a good introduction.

Some of these issues also belong to the philosophical fields of epistemology, metaphysics, and/or action theory. You may also come across specialty fields like moral psychology, philosophy of psychology, or cognitive science. Each of these overlaps a good deal with philosophy of mind; but they have special focuses, and draw on other disciplines too.

Target Audience and Course Goals

As stated in the catalog listing, this class requires one prior course in philosophy, or equivalent background with instructor’s approval. Familiarity with formal logic (as from Phil 155) will be useful in this course, though it is not a prerequisite.

I’ll assume students have prior experience writing philosophical papers, reading texts critically, analyzing and responding to philosophical arguments, and so on. If you’ve already taken a prior course in philosophy, that will be adequate preparation. If you’ve just “read and thought a lot” about the issues this course covers, that is in most cases not adequate preparation. It won’t have given you practice and feedback on writing philosophy papers, and it won’t have given you experience analyzing and discussing arguments in the way we’ll be doing in this class.

Goals for the course include:


The course is offered by Professor Jim Pryor (he/him).

Professor Pryor’s office is Caldwell 108A. He can best be reached by email, at

Professor Pryor’s office hours are right after class, on Mondays and Wednesdays 11:30-12:30. If you’re unable to meet in person, we can also meet by Zoom. The Zoom link for office hours can be found on this restricted page.


These are available in the bookstore. You can also buy or rent them online. I’ll also make sure readings from the textbooks are available to everybody at the start of term.

(Earlier editions of these books should also suffice.)

Additional readings will be provided by web links. Some of these are in a restricted section of the course website. The username and password for these will be announced in class.

Course Requirements

It is essential that you attend the class meetings regularly. Material not in the readings will be presented there, and useful background and framing for many of the readings will also be provided. The University’s policy on class attendance can be found here. In brief, they authorize absences only for some University activities, religious observances, disabilities, significant health conditions including pregnancy, and personal or family emergencies. If these include your situation, then see the link about how to get your absence approved. If you need to miss class meetings for other kinds of reasons (like a job interview or to attend your mother’s wedding), ask me about it well in advance. In any case, you will be responsible for catching up with missed course content; and permission to miss a class doesn’t excuse you from deadlines for work due before or after the class.

Though this is an in-person class, attending a meeting doesn’t necessarily mean being bodily present in the room. As the carolinatogether website says:

Each time prior to coming to campus, all members of the Carolina community should self-assess whether you are experiencing any symptoms using the COVID-19 symptom list on the Carolina Together website. If you have any of these symptoms, you should stay home. You should not enter any campus building, attend any class or report to work.

More information about quarantining and isolation is available here.

If you need to stay home during any of our class meetings, try to attend the meeting by Zoom instead.

When you join the class meetings, you are expected to have read any material assigned for that day, and to be ready to discuss it and/or ask questions about it.

It is essential that you ask questions when things in the readings or lectures are unclear, and be ready to participate when we have class discussions. I’ll sometimes expect you to actively engage with each other in class, and encourage you to do it outside of class too. Talking about philosophy is one of the best ways of learning how to do it. Your overall participation will make up 10% of your grade for the course. See this page on participation for more details (though this class won’t have separate “discussion sections” as that page assumes; we’ll integrate discussion into the main meetings). If you don’t plan to participate earnestly, you should not take this course.

See the Policies section below about wearing masks and using laptops or other devices in class.

There will be reading assignments for most class meetings. These readings are often pretty short, but they all require close study. You should read them carefully before we discuss them in class, and you’ll need to read them more than once. For most of the readings, you won’t understand the material sufficiently with just a single reading. A good strategy would be to read the assignment once before we discuss it, and then go back and read it again after we’ve discussed it. If you don’t plan to do this, you should not take this course.

Here is a detailed explanation of how you’ll be expected to read philosophy papers.

You will have to submit three papers for the course, due on Sept 21, Oct 19, and Nov 23 Nov 28. Papers should be 4-5 pages each. We will arrange that grading of your work is done without me knowing whose work is whose.

Here is a detailed explanation of how you’ll be expected to write philosophy papers. That page includes a section “How you’ll be graded”; here is more information on how I understand different grades for written work.

There will also be a final exam, given in compliance with UNC-Chapel Hill’s final exam regulations and according to the final exam calendar. Our exam will be on Thur Dec 9 from 8-11 am.

See below about rescheduling your final or paper deadlines.

The University Honor Code applies to all course assignments, exams, and petitions for absences or rescheduling. For more information, see and The Instrument of Student Judicial Governance.

What constitutes academic “lying, cheating, or stealing” can vary between different activities.

Your grades for the different components of the course will be weighted as follows:

10% for participation
15% first paper
25% second paper
25% third paper
25% final exam

If you think you have been given an incorrect grade for any part of the course, we can review together how I applied the announced standards. If this doesn’t resolve the issue, you have the right to discuss with our department’s Director of Undergraduate Studies (currently Professor Markus Kohl), or to appeal through a formal University process. You’ll be expected to make a case that the grade reflects an arithmetic/clerical error, arbitrariness, discrimination, harassment, or personal malice. To learn more, go to the Academic Advising Program website, or this summary of University policies.

Most requests that I and other professors hear for changing grades are based on how good/bad it would be for a student to get a given grade; but it would be unfair and inappropriate for justifications like that to succeed.


This lists due dates for assignments and the rough order of our topics. See this page for announcements, readings, lecture notes, and any minor tweaks to the schedule. Check that page frequently.

Meetings 1-2 / Wed Aug 18, Mon Aug 23
Animal, machine, alien intelligence
Mind uploading
Varieties of mental states
“Marks of the mental”
Meeting 3 / Wed Aug 25
Turing Test
Meeting 4 / Mon Aug 30
Meeting 5 / Wed Sept 1
Substance Dualism
Realism, Reductionism, Error Theory
Mon Sept 6
No classes (Labor Day)
Meeting 6 / Wed Sept 8
Leibniz’s Law and arguments for Dualism
Meetings 7-8 / Mon Sept 13, Wed Sept 15
Causal arguments against dualism
Huxley’s Epiphenomenalism
Meeting 9 / Mon Sept 20
Start discussing Conceivability and Possibility
Tues Sept 21
First Papers Due
Meeting 10 / Wed Sept 22
More on Conceivability and Possibility
Meeting 11 / Mon Sept 27
Discuss papers
Meeting 12 / Wed Sept 29
More on Conceivability and Possibility
Necessary A Posteriori
Meeting 13 / Mon Oct 4
Catchup, Review
Meetings 14-15 / Wed Oct 6, Mon Oct 11
Type physicalism/Identity Theory
Meetings 15-16 / Mon Oct 11, Wed Oct 13
Logical Behaviorism
Meeting 17 / Mon Oct 18
Tues Oct 19
Second Papers Due
Meetings 18-19 / Wed Oct 20, Mon Oct 25
More on Functionalism
Meeting 20 / Wed Oct 27
Lewis on theoretical identities
Some objections to functionalism
Meetings 21-23 / Mon Nov 1, Wed Nov 3, Mon Nov 8
Mental causation, laws, and explanation
Catchup, review
Meetings 24-25 / Wed Nov 10, Mon Nov 15
Searle and Block against Functionalism
Meetings 26-27 / Wed Nov 17, Mon Nov 22
Jackson’s Mary or “Knowledge Argument”
Perception, Secondary Qualities, Inverted Spectra
Wed Nov 24
No classes (Thanksgiving)
Tues Nov 23 Sun Nov 28
Third Papers Due
Meetings 28-29 / Mon Nov 29, Wed Dec 1
Putnam’s Externalism
Thur Dec 9
Final 8-11 am

Other Information

If you wish to be in the class, but aren’t yet enrolled

(Whether or not you’re on the waitlist, the procedure is the same.) Come to the first week of classes and be in touch with me asap about your interest in the class, how it fits into your larger educational plans, and what your background in other philosophy courses is.

Rescheduling/missing deadlines or the final exam

If you know in advance you’ll have good reason for being unable to submit a paper for a deadline:

What if it turns out that you can’t turn the work in, but now it’s only days or hours before (or even after 😮) the deadline?

If you have two final exams scheduled at the same time, or three scheduled within twenty-four hours:

Policies and Resources


The instructor reserves the right to make changes to the syllabus, including paper due dates. These changes will be announced as early as possible so that students can adjust their schedules.


I welcome your input about the class at any time. You are welcome to approach me directly. I’ll also provide opportunities for anonymous evaluation and feedback during the term.