The University of Southampton

PHIL2009 Philosophy of Mind

Module Overview

Philosophy of mind explores questions about the nature of the mind and mental states – states such as perceptual experiences, beliefs, desires, and emotions. What is the mind? Is it an immaterial substance? Is it the brain? Is it something like a computer? Might it just be a useful fiction? In considering these questions we will pay particular attention to two central features of the mind: (i) that mental states play a central role in explaining behaviour (for example, my desire for coffee helps explain why I’m heading to the cafeteria); (ii) that some mental states are conscious: there is something it is like to feel pain, taste marmite, or see a sunset. We will study the various ways in which philosophers have tried to give an account of the mind that makes sense of these features.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • of the central doctrines of contemporary philosophy of mind
  • evaluate and compare these doctrines by reference to their capacity to account for key elements in our understanding of the mind, science and nature.


1) Dualism: is the mind an immaterial substance? 2) Behaviourism: is the mind reducible to behaviour? 3) Identity Theory: is the mind the brain? 4) Functionalism: are mental states functional states? 5) Mental Causation: can we make sense of the common-sense notion that mental states cause behaviour? 6) Consciousness: can we make sense of the familiar fact that some mental states are conscious? 7) Externalism about the Mind: what is the relationship between mind and world? Are mental states “in the head”?

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Reading the relevant material, attendance at lectures; taking notes; contributing to discussion in lectures and discussion hours; doing research for, preparing and giving presentations; preparing for exams; applying techniques and skills learned both inside and outside the module to your reading and writing.

Independent Study120
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

D Chalmers. Philosophy of Mind: Classic and Contemporary Readings. 

I Ravenscroft. Philosophy of Mind: A Beginner’s Guide. 

J. Heil. Philosophy of Mind: A Contemporary Introduction. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 60%
Presentation 40%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

Share this module Facebook Google+ Twitter Weibo

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we will assume that you are happy to receive cookies on the University of Southampton website.