PHIL 1200 Introduction to Philosophy
This assignment consists of three short answer questions. The main intent of these questions is to
ensure that you have a sound grasp of the fundamentals on the material presented in this unit. To that
end, you should try to be concise and limit yourself to two or three pages for each of these short answer
questions. Please consider this a maximum length – going over this length is counterproductive. I’m not
so concerned with whether you agree with a particular author or not. The quality of your answer is
based on your explanation of the competing positions and the reasons you provide in support of the
position you defend. The value of each question is indicated beside the question.
The questions in these assignments are not designed to be “research” questions. There is no
requirement to research your answers from external sources such as websites like wikipedia. In fact, it
may count against you. For example, if your reasons for supporting a particular position are simply cited
from an external source, that isn’t properly your reasons. So you wouldn’t receive a very good mark.
The material you need to successfully complete these assignments can be found in your online course
written and video materials and the course readings package. You can find this information on the
course reading list in the course materials section of our UMLearn course site. I have simply taken that
information and broken it down to the readings that are relevant to the individual questions
Total possible marks = 100.
1. Descartes’ Substance Dualism and Materialism. (50 marks)
1. René Descartes, excerpts from Meditations on the first philosophy, Meditation VI.
2. C. D. Broad, Chapter 3 The traditional problem of body and mind from The Mind and its place in
3. * Ryle, Gilbert. 1966. Descartes’ Myth. Twentieth-Century Philosophy: The Analytic Tradition. Morris
Weitz, 297-309. New York: The Free Press.
4. * Armstrong, David M. 1970. The nature of mind. In The mind/brain identity theory, ed. C. V. Borst,
67-79. London: MacMillan and Co.
5. * Putnam, Hilary. 1975. Turning machines. In Mind, language and reality: Philosophical papers, Vol. 2,
364-366, 429-439. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
6. * Churchland, Paul M. 1984. Eliminative materialism. In Matter and consciousness: A contemporary
introduction to the philosophy of mind, 43-49. Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
7. * Fodor, Jerry A. 1981. Introduction. In Representations, 2-16. Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
(*Hard copies in the Course Readings package.)
In your own words, provide a concise formulation of Descartes’ Substance Dualism. In your own
words, provide a concise formulation of materialism. In particular explain the distinction between
reductive and eliminative materialism. In light of the criticisms offered of both dualism and
materialism, which account is more plausible? Explain why.
2. Personal Identity–John Locke and David Hume. (30 marks)
1. John Locke, excerpts from An essay concerning human understanding, Vol. One, Book Two, Chapters 8
and 27. http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/l/locke/john/l81u/
2.* Reid, Thomas. 1967. Essays on the intellectual powers of man, Essay III, Chapter VI: Mr. Locke’s
account of our personal identity. In Thomas Reid: Philosophical works, Vol. 1, ed. Harry M. Bracken, 350-
353. Hildesheim: Verlagsbuchhandlung Press. (*Hard copy in the Course Readings package.)
3. David Hume, excerpts from A treatise of human nature, Book One, Part 4, Section VI.
4. Williams, Bernard. 1970. The self and the future. Philosophical Review 79: 161-180. University of
In your own words, explain Locke’s theory of personal identity. In your own words, explain Hume’s
(rather sceptical) account of personal identity. In light of the criticisms offered of both accounts,
which account is more plausible? Explain why.
3. The Nature of Consciousness. (20 marks)
1. Nagel, Thomas. 1974. What is it Like to be a Bat? Philosophical Review 83: 435-450. University of
This question is a little more advanced. It requires a close reading of the Nagel’s article “What is
it like to be a Bat?” Nagel seems to be making a point concerning any materialist accounts of
consciousness. In your own words, explain the point that Nagel is making, and his reasons in
support of his point. Do you agree with Nagel? Explain why or why not.