1 x 2-hour seminar weekly
Topic description

This topic examines fundamental issues in the metaphysics of mind. It begins by considering a range of possible answers to the question 'What are mental states?'. Theories considered include dualism, behaviourism, mind-brain identity theory, and functionalism. The topic then moves on to the issue of consciousness. What is it to be conscious? How could a physical object like the brain generate our rich conscious experiences? Throughout the topic emphasis will be placed on clear thinking, rigorous argument, and the careful exposition of ideas both orally and in writing.

Educational aims

This topic aims to:

  • Introduce students to philosophical theories of mental states
  • Introduce students to current issues in the study of consciousness
  • Provide students with sufficient historical and theoretical background so that they can read and understand significant philosophical texts in the field for themselves
  • Improve students' critical thinking and communication skills
Expected learning outcomes
On completion of this topic you will be expected to be able to:

  1. Exhibit a basic understanding of dualism, behaviourism, mind-brain identity theory, and functionalism
  2. Exhibit a good understanding of basic issues in the study of consciousness, including the Knowledge Argument, epiphenomenalism, and representationalism
  3. Think critically and communicate effectively about fundamental issues in the metaphysics of mind

Key dates and timetable

(1), (2)

Each class is numbered in brackets.
Where more than one class is offered, students normally attend only one.

Classes are held weekly unless otherwise indicated.


If you are enrolled for this topic, but all classes for one of the activities (eg tutorials) are full,
contact your College Office for assistance. Full classes frequently occur near the start of semester.

Students may still enrol in topics with full classes as more places will be made available as needed.

If this padlock appears next to an activity name (eg Lecture), then class registration is closed for this activity.

Class registration normally closes at the end of week 2 of each semester.

Classes in a stream are grouped so that the same students attend all classes in that stream.
Registration in the stream will result in registration in all classes.
  Unless otherwise advised, classes are not held during semester breaks or on public holidays.