During class the following questions will be addressed: what is an action? What is the difference between practical knowledge and theoretical knowledge? In which way our desires and beliefs cause our actions and the way we execute them? Do we see action possibilities in the environment? What does it mean to be free to do what we intend to do?
Articles among those that will be introduced during classes. The articles will be available starting from the first lesson.
Knowledge: the course aims to provide students with an adequate knowledge of the basic concepts and problems of philosophy of mind, with a particular focus on the theory of practical knowledge.
Competence: students will develop the ability to comprehend problems concerning the ontological status of intentional phenomena. They will sharpen their capacities of analysis and interpretation by comparing different theoretical frameworks.
Skills: successful students will become familiar with the contemporary philosophical language, as well as with valuable bibliographic resources, crucial for understanding the debate in philosophy of mind about practical knowledge.
For students that do not know the basic notions of philosophy of mind, the following handbook are recommended:
Di Francesco, M.; Marraffa, M.; Tomasetta, A. (2017) Filosofia della Mente. Corpo, Coscienza, Pensiero. Carocci.
or in English
Kim, J. (2011) Philosophy of Mind (third edition), Westview Press.
Classes with open discussion on relevant topics (the active participation to the discussion is strongly encouraged). There will be the possibility to write a short essay on selected topics.
English syllabus is available upon request.
Type of Assessment
The final examination aims at ascertaining the student's actual level of knowledge and understanding. This is a conversation with the teacher without books and notes of about 30 minutes, focused on various topics related to the content of the course (see learning objectives). Particular attention will be addressed to the assessment of the student's abilities of contextualization and critical analysis of philosophical problems and solutions. A short essay of about 5000 words concerning a selected topic will be part of the student assessment. Through the essay the students should be able to demonstrate their capacities of analysis and interpretation by comparing different theoretical frameworks. The essay should be submitted a week before the examination date.
The course program divides into four main parts:
1) introduction to philosophy of intentionality
- Ontological issues (what an intentional state is; the nature of intentional objects; intentions and intensions; realism about intentionality vs eliminativism)
- Epistemological issues (why we use intentional states; overt behaviour and intentional states; the intentional stance; intentional explanations and computations)
2) Introduction to philosophy of action
- what is the difference between an action and a mere movement
- what mental states subserve the execution of an action
3) Intellectualism and anti-intellectualism in the philosophy of action
- the intellectualist program (the control of the action is determined by mental states in the propositional format)
- the anti-intellectualist program (Ryle's thesis and the non-propositional format of practical knowledge)
4) Practical knowledge and theoretical knowledge
- the motor format of representation (nature and function of the motor format)
- the interaction between propositional intentions and motor intentions (how the representation formats interact each other)