Harvard University,  FAS

Philosophy 158

Externalism about the Mind

Asst. Prof James Pryor
Dept. of Philosophy

I offered Phil 158 in Spring 1999; this web site refers to that version of the course.

- James Pryor

Course Description

According to an older, internalist picture of the mind, the contents of one's mind do not depend on how things are outside one's mind. The rest of the world can have a causal impact on one's mind, of course. But nothing in one's mind depends for the very possibility of its existence on things outside one's mind.

Nowadays, many philosophers reject that picture. They accept some form of externalism about the mind. Externalism says that what one is thinking at any given moment will not just depend on how things are inside one's mind. It will also depend on what sort of environment one is in, and who one has communicated with.

In this proseminar, we will examine the main arguments for and against externalism, and consider what the consequences of externalism would be.

Who Should Take This Course?

This course will presuppose some prior work in philosophy of mind or philosophy of language, and enrollment is limited. If you are unsure whether you are sufficiently well-prepared to take this course, then talk to me about it.


You will have to write two substantial papers for this course: a midterm paper about 8 pages long, and a final paper about 12 pages long.

In addition, you will have to answer questions each week on the readings we will be discussing. (Your answers will be due BEFORE we discuss the readings. The point of answering these questions is to prepare you for the discussion.)

Date Readings
Mon 2/8 Introduction
Mon 2/15 Presidents' Day (No class)
Mon 2/22 Putnam, "The Meaning of 'Meaning'"
Mon 3/1 Putnam, "The Meaning of 'Meaning'" (continued)
Putnam, Representation and Reality, Ch. 2
Mon 3/8 Burge, "Individualism and the Mental"
Mon 3/15 Kripke and indexicals
Mon 3/22 Kripke and indexicals (continued)
Mon 3/29 Spring Break (No class)
Mon 4/5 Burge, "Other Bodies"
Mon 4/12 LePore and Loewer, "Solipsistic Semantics"
Putnam, Representation and Reality, Ch. 3
Mon 4/19 Kripke on Pierre
Mon 4/26 Loar, "Social Content and Psychological Content"
Stalnaker, "Narrow Content"
Mon 5/3 Slack

Questions and Handouts

[Phil 158] [James Pryor] [Philosophy Dept.]

Created by: James Pryor
Last Modified: Mon, Jul 17, 2000 7:11 PM