Objectives and outcomes

What we hope you'll get from this course

Aims and objectives

The course is an introduction to the Philosophy of Mind and Language. The objectives are:

  • To introduce students to some of the problems and concepts in philosophy of language and philosophy of mind that are central to philosophy.

  • To develop students’ abilities to understand and be critical of philosophical argument, by examining in detail some of the key arguments and texts in philosophy of language and mind.

  • To inculcate in students taking this as their only philosophy course an understanding of the nature of philosophy and an appreciation of the value of philosophical ways of thinking.

  • To provide for students, who will take further philosophy courses, a solid understanding of these central topics, thereby providing a firm basis for the development of their philosophical knowledge and understanding.

  • To introduce students to characteristically philosophical ways of thinking, including: the idea of an argument and some of the ways an argument may be evaluated and analysed; the sorts of evidence that philosophical arguments use, and the differences between philosophical and empirical ways of thinking; the analysis and investigation of concepts.

  • To enable students to express philosophical ideas and arguments both orally and in writing, with particular regard to the following qualities: clarity, precision, and concision; structure in essay organization; structure in argument (written and oral); the ability to argue effectively in a debate, including showing respect for other participants.

  • To promote the acquisition of generic analytical and critical thinking skills, including: the ability to identify the argument in a piece of prose; the ability to approach ideas with an open mind.

  • To encourage other transferable skills, including the ability to work to deadlines; use of computers for word-processing and the retrieval of information from the World Wide Web.

Intended learning outcomes

  • Familiarity with the problem of the relation of language and thought to the world, and grasp of the central concepts in the philosophy of language such as reference, truth conditions, propositions, and compositionality
  • Ability to explain and provide cogent arguments for key distinctions in Frege’s philosophy of language such as function/argument and sense/reference.
  • Ability to explain and provide cogent arguments for Russell’s Theory of Descriptions.
  • Ability to explain Wittgenstein’s critique of the picture theory of language (and the idea that the essence of human language is representational), and explain Wittgenstein’s alternative use-based approach to meaning.
  • Understanding the philosophical positions of dualism, behaviourism, identity theory, intentional realism, instrumentalism and eliminativism.
  • Understanding the so-called “hard problem” of consciousness and be able to critically examine the crucial thought experiments designed to support the claims regarding its existence.
  • Understanding the nature of the debate concerning folk psychology and our grip on other agents' mental states.