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Philosophy of Mind

A Beginner's Guide

Ian Ravenscroft

Publication Date - April 2005

ISBN: 9780199252541

216 pages

In Stock


Designed specifically for students with no background knowledge in the subject, this accessible introduction covers all of the basic concepts and major theories in the philosophy of mind. Topics discussed include dualism, behaviorism, the identity theory, functionalism, the computational theory of mind, connectionism, physicalism, mental causation, and consciousness. The text is enhanced by chapter summaries, a glossary, suggestions for further reading, and self-assessment questions.


  • This introductory textbook is aimed at beginning students with no background knowledge in the philosophy of mind
  • The organisation of the book into twelve key areas in the philosophy of mind makes this an ideal text for course use
  • Chapter summaries, guides to further reading and questions at the end of each chapter stimulate the student and make this book ideal for seminar discussion

About the Author(s)

Ian Ravenscroft completed his PhD at the Research School of Social Science, Australian National University. After spending a year teaching in the Philosophy Department at the University of Auckland, he became an ARC Research Associate at Flinders University. In 1998, Ian moved to the Philosophy Department at King's College London, where he directed the graduate program in the philosophy of mental disorder. He is now back at Flinders University.

Table of Contents

    1. Dualism
    1.1 Substance dualism
    1.2 Arguments in favor of substance dualism
    1.3 Arguments against substance dualism
    1.4 Property dualism
    1.5 Assessing epiphenomenalism
    1.6 Conclusion
    2. Behaviorism
    2.1 Philosophical behaviorism
    2.2 Arguments in favor of philosophical behaviorism
    2.3 Arguments against philosophical behaviorism
    2.4 What is methodological behaviorism?
    2.5 Arguments for methodological behaviorism
    2.6 Arguments against methodological behaviorism
    3. The identity theory
    3.1 More about the identity theory
    3.2 Arguments in favor of the identity theory
    3.3 Evidence from deficit studies
    3.4 Arguments against the identity theory
    3.5 Reductive and nonreductive physicalism
    3.6 Conclusion
    4. Functionalism
    4.1 Introducing functionalism
    4.2 Functionalism and brain states
    4.3 Functionalism and the six features of mental states
    4.4 Two famous arguments against functionalism
    4.5 Conclusion
    5. Eliminativism and fictionalism
    5.1 From theory to reality
    5.2 Introducing eliminativism
    5.3 Eliminativism about mental states
    5.4 Anti-eliminativist arguments
    5.5 Fictionalism
    5.6 Conclusion
    6. The computational theory of mind
    6.1 Syntax and semantics
    6.2 What's a computer?
    6.3 Turing machines
    6.4 The computational theory of mind
    6.5 The language of thought
    6.6 The Chinese room
    6.7 Conclusion
    7. Connectionism
    7.1 What connectionist networks are like
    7.2 Some important properties of connectionist networks
    7.3 Connectionism and the mind
    7.4 Rationality, language, systematicity
    7.5 Conclusion
    8. Physicalism and supervenience
    8.1 Physical properties
    8.2 Introducing the supervenience approach to physicalism
    8.3 Refining the supervenience approach to physicalism
    8.4 A problem for the supervenience approach to physicalism?
    9. Content
    9.1 The resemblance theory
    9.2 The causal theory
    9.3 The teleological theory
    9.4 Fodor's theory
    9.5 Functional role theory
    9.6 Wide or narrow?
    10. Mental causation
    10.1 The problem of causal exclusion
    10.2 Responding to the problem of causal exclusion
    10.3 The causal efficacy of content
    10.4 Responding to the problem of the causal efficacy of content
    11. Varieties of consciousness
    11.1 Phenomenal consciousness
    11.2 Access consciousness
    11.3 Is access a function of phenomenal consciousness?
    11.4 Avoiding confusion
    11.5 Other kinds of consciousness
    12. Phenomenal consciousness
    12.1 The knowledge argument
    12.2 Responding to the knowledge argument
    12.3 The explanatory gap
    12.4 Can the explanatory gap be filled?
    12.5 Functionalism and phenomenal consciousness
    12.6 Concluding remarks
    Appendix: Paper writing tips
    Some useful resources