Philosophy 3: Nature of Mind

Discussion section syllabus

Kirsten Pickering


Office Hours: Friday 12-2, Free Speech Movement Café

I. Discussion section

Discussion section is where you will get clearer on what you think about the nature of mind, after having carefully read the texts and attended lecture.

This is an intensive reading and discussion group, run primarily by the students. I will be there to keep us on topic, answer questions about philosophical terms and method, and slow things down if we seem to be missing something important in someone’s comment or question. But the main drivers of the discussion will be all of you.

If we seem to be having trouble getting going during the first few weeks of discussion, I may ask some of you to start the next section with a brief presentation. More on this later, if needed.

II. What should I talk about in section?

If you’re not sure what to talk about in section, remember that getting clear on these questions is always important:

a) What is the position under discussion (in the reading, in lecture)? ex. what is “dualism”?

b) Is this person arguing for or against that position? ex. Did Professor Campbell argue for or against dualism in class?

c) What is the argument? ex. How did Professor Campbell argue against dualism?

d) Should we agree with the argument? Why, or why not?

III. In-discussion technology policy

Absent special circumstances, no laptops, tablets, phones, or other electronic devices should be out during discussion. Please email me, if there are special circumstances.

IV. Office hours and appointments

Office hours and appointments are the main ways for you to work closely with me. All are welcome, whether you’re having difficulty with the material or just want to talk more about it. Also, everyone should meet with me at least once while working on a paper assignment.

My usual office hours will be on Fridays from 12-2 at Free Speech Movement Café. FSM is attached to the Moffitt Undergraduate Library. (I’ll usually be sitting on the patio.) I am also available by appointment. If you have a conflict with my office hours and would like to meet, please email me.

V. Email policy

I do not answer substantive emails - that is, emails containing philosophy. If I did, I would never leave my computer, because I answer emails incredibly slowly.

Instead of writing out questions about a text or about how to approach a paper prompt in an email, please come by office hours or email me to make an appointment.

VI. Turning in papers

When you turn in a paper, you should submit both a digital copy to Bcourses and a hard copy to me in lecture, by the deadline. I’ll share more details when assignments are distributed.

VII. Academic dishonesty

Plagiarism – that is, using the words or ideas produced by another person in an assignment without acknowledging its source – will result in an automatic F on the assignment at minimum. It will also result in a report to Student Conduct, and a whole lot of hassle for you. (Ignorance that you plagiarized is no excuse. If you are at all unclear about what counts as plagiarism, come talk to me.)

Plagiarism sometimes happens due to misunderstanding the point of writing a philosophy paper. Writing a philosophy paper is more like writing a song than like making a playlist. Making a good playlist demonstrates that you can select good songs made by other people and put them in a natural order. To write your own song, while you draw inspiration from others’ music, you depend primarily on your own musical ability. If your music composition teacher asks you to write a song, you should not copy “California Dreaming” and make a few changes to it. That would miss the point of the assignment, because it would not show that you have developed the ability to write a song.

When writing for this class, you should demonstrate the basic skills needed for writing philosophy. The best way to develop these skills is to practice. Practice by looking for an author’s arguments and assumptions in a text as you read at home, trying to restate arguments in ways you find clear, following along in class and discussion, asking lots of questions when you find yourself puzzled, and putting into words whether you agree with particular claims and why. If you do this, you will be in a good position to start your paper as soon as you receive a particular assignment.

Talking to or reading work by other people about philosophy can help you to develop your ideas. But if you use the words or ideas of any other sources (other students, Wikipedia, Cliffsnotes, Thomas Nagel’s essays, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, and so on) in your assignments, you must cite those sources fully. Otherwise, you are plagiarizing. (Btw - don’t use Wikipedia or Cliffsnotes. When it comes to philosophy, they’re usually not very good.)

VIII. Disabilities and accommodations

Please let me know soon if you are registered with DSP and might need certain accommodations later in the semester.

Also let me know if you have any extracurricular conflicts with class deadlines.

Updated on 2016-02-04 13:13:35 -0800 by Kirsten Pickering