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    The foundation and development of modern philosophy of mind and language in the second half of the twentieth century, and the radical effects these developments have had on modern analytic philosophy.

    This paper looks at a number of issues in recent and contemporary philosophy of mind and language relating to linguistic meaning, mental content, linguistic representation and mental representation. We will study the works of philosophers such as Quine, Wittgenstein, Grice, Kripke, Searle, Fodor and others.

    About this paper

    Paper title Philosophy of Mind and Language
    Subject Philosophy
    EFTS 0.15
    Points 18 points
    Teaching period Semester 1 (On campus)
    Domestic Tuition Fees ( NZD ) $981.75
    International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.
    One PHIL paper or 72 points
    PHIL 224, PHIL 302, PHIL 306, PHIL 324 and PHIL 333
    Schedule C
    Arts and Music

    Teaching staff

    Professor Alex Miller and Associate Professor Andrew Moore

    Paper Structure

    PHIL233 comprises a combination of lectures and seminars. Topics covered may include:

      • Physicalism and its rivals
      • Perception and thought
      • Intentionality and consciousness
      • Mental causation
      • Other minds
      • Self-knowledge and the self
      • W.V.O. Quine's famous arguments concerning the indeterminacy of translation
      • Ludwig Wittgenstein’s apparent arguments against the determinacy of meaning
      • H. P. Grice's attempt to account for the notion of linguistic meaning via the notion of speakers' communicative intentions
      • Saul Kripke's exploration (in his Naming and Necessity) of connections between the philosophy of language and mind and issues in metaphysics concerning necessity and contingency
      • The mind-body problem
      • Theories of the mind (including dualism, materialism, functionalism and eliminativism)
      • Whether the human mind can be regarded as a kind of computer
      • John Searle’s “Chinese Room” Argument
      • Theories of mental representation
      • Physicalism and consciousness
      Teaching Arrangements

      Two classes per week; a two hour lecture and a one hour lecture.

      The classes mix more formal lecture components with less formal seminar components.


      Tim Bayne, Philosophy of Mind: An Introduction (Routledge 2021)

      Tim Crane, The Mechanical Mind: A Philosophical Introduction to Minds, Machines and Mental Representation (3rd Edition Routledge 2016).

      Alexander Miller, Philosophy of Language (3rd Edition Routledge 2018).

      Graduate Attributes Emphasised
      Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Research, Self-motivation.
      View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
      Learning Outcomes

      The goals for the first half of the paper are:

      • Understanding, and skilled appraisal, of the main physicalist accounts of the mind, shown in a research essay or exam answer
      • Understanding of, and skilled response to, key issues concerning consciousness or intentionality, shown in a research essay or exam answer
      • Understanding of, and skilled response to, key issues concerning perception, thought, mental causation, other minds, self-knowledge, or the self, shown in a research essay or exam answer

      The goals for the second half the paper are:

      • Understanding of, and skilled response to, Quine's argument from below for indeterminacy of translation, to be determined in a research essay
      • Understanding of, and skilled response to, Searle’s “Chinese Room” argument, to be determined in a research essay
      • Understanding of, and skilled response to, other topics (including Quine's argument from above, Wittgenstein on meaning,  Grice's account of meaning and alternatives, Kripke on Naming and Necessity, theories of mental representation, physicalism and consciousness), to be shown in seminar questions and/or exam answers
      • Engagement with PHIL 233/333, demonstrated in written work through engagement with lecture handouts


      Semester 1

      Teaching method
      This paper is taught On Campus
      Learning management system


      Stream Days Times Weeks
      A1 Wednesday 14:00-15:50 9-13, 15-21
      Friday 13:00-13:50 9-12, 15-21
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