Other Minds - Philosophy

Other Minds
Philosophy 121
Spring 2015
TuTh 12:00pm – 1:45pm
Cowell Com, 134
Janette Dinishak
105 Cowell Annex (the annex is just south of Page Smith Library)
Office Hours: 2:20pm - 3:45pm, Tuesdays & Thursdays
Email: [email protected]
Course Description
Perhaps beginning with the British philosopher J.S. Mill, philosophers have talked about “The Problem of
Other Minds”. Understood as a problem about knowledge, philosophers have asked questions like the
following: Do we know that others have minds? If so, how did we get this knowledge? In this class we
will look at how this problem is thought to get started (e.g. by assuming that our only epistemic access to
others’ mental lives is via their outward behavior), different articulations of the problem (e.g., descriptive,
epistemological, and practical variants), and proposed solutions both in the history of philosophy and in
more recent discussions in philosophy, cognitive science, and psychology. Along the way we will
consider viewpoints that call into question whether there is a problem of understanding others that must
be overcome. In the latter part of the course we will explore some recent work on different kinds of
minds (e.g., atypical human minds and non-human animal minds), motivated vs. unmotivated mind
perception, dehumanization and anthropomorphism.
This course does not require you to purchase any books. All readings will be posted in Resources on
eCommons (https://ecommons.ucsc.edu/xsl-portal ) at least one week prior to the class meeting in which
the reading assignment will be discussed.
Here is a link to “Helpful eCommons Info for Students”:
For eCommons technical support, please contact the ITS Help Desk:
Online: http://its.ucsc.edu/get-help/index.html
Phone: (831) 459-HELP
Email: [email protected]
In-Person: Kerr Hall Rm. 54 – M-F 8am to 5pm
Course Requirements
In-class Midterm
Paper (6-8 pages)
Final Exam
Minutes Group Assignment
Lecture Attendance
Regular lecture attendance is expected. Students who miss more than three lectures will receive a half
letter grade reduction for each additional absence.
Other Course Information
1. Students with diverse learning needs are welcome in this course! If you qualify for classroom
accommodations because of a disability, please submit your Accommodation Authorization from
the Disability Resource Center (DRC) to me in a timely manner, preferably within the first two
weeks of the quarter. Contact DRC at 831-459-2089 or by email at [email protected] For more
information please visit UCSC’s Disability Resource Center homepage: http://drc.ucsc.edu/.
2. Late assignments will not be accepted.
To pass, all course assignments must be completed. Any student who fails to do so will not pass the
course. If you’re struggling to fulfill the requirements for any reason, please talk with me during my office
hours about your situation.
4. Plagiarism. You are responsible for being familiar with UCSC’s policies on academic honesty.
Proper sourcing and good scholarship are expected. Plagiarism is a serious academic offense. If
you have any questions or concerns about how to avoid plagiarism and how to ensure the
originality of your work, please get in touch with me.
UCSC NetRail is one resource that reviews proper sourcing and citation: http://nettrail.ucsc.edu/
“How Not to Plagiarize”: http://www.writing.utoronto.ca/images/stories/Documents/how-not-toplagiarize.pdf
Tentative Schedule
(3/31 & 4/2)
POM & Proposed Solutions to POM -Analogical Argument
Reading: Carruthers’ “The Problem of Other
Minds” (POM); Mill excerpts from An
Examination of Sir William Hamilton’s
Philosophy; Russell “Analogy”
Proposed Solutions to POM -- Analogical
Argument cont’d & Its Critics
Readings: Malcolm “Knowledge of Other Minds”
Proposed Solutions to POM -- Inference to the
Best Explanation Argument & Its Critics
Readings: Pargetter “The Scientific Inference to
Other Minds”; Melnyk “Inference to the Best
Explanation and Other Minds”
Wittgenstein and the Dissolution of POM
Readings: Selections from Wittgenstein’s later
writings; Re-read Malcolm pp. 976-978
POM in Psychology—Theory-Theory,
Simulation Theory, and the Direct Perception
Readings: Davies and Stone, Folk Psychology
(excerpts); Krueger and Overgaard “Seeing
Subjectivity: Defending a Perceptual Account of
Other Minds”
The Problem of Atypical Human Minds: The
Case of Autism and the Concept of
Readings: McGeer, “The Skill of Perceiving
Persons” (excerpts); Hacking, “Autistic
(5/12 & 5/14)
Required Video: Amil, Klin,“Overview of
Autism” Part II
Autism cont’d; The Problem of Non-Human
Animal Minds
(5/19 & 5/21)
Readings: Jamieson “Science, Knowledge, and
Animal Minds;”Davidson “Thought and Talk”
Non-Human Animal Minds cont’d
Readings: Dennett “Do Animals Have Beliefs?”;
Despret “The Becomings of Subjectivity in
Animal Worlds”
The “Real” POM; the Lesser Minds Problem
Paper Due 5/26 (in lecture)
Reading: Epley, “Solving the (Real) Other Minds
Problem”; Epley, Schroeder, Waytz, “Motivated
Mind Perception: Treating Pets and People and
People as Pets”
Lesser Minds Problem cont’d & Wrap-Up
Reading: Waytz, Schroeder, Epley, “The Lesser
Minds Problem”; Gallagher and Varga, “Social
Constraints on the Direct Perception of Emotions
and Intentions” (pp 193-196, “Some Concerns
from Social Psychology”)
**Final Exam: Monday, June 8, 7:30pm-10:30pm**