Philosophy of Mind and Language

Subject PHIL20033 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable


Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Thirty two contact hours per semester: two 1-hour lectures per week for the first 11 weeks and a 1-hour tutorial per week beginning the third week of semester
Total Time Commitment: An average of 8.5 hours each week.
Prerequisites: At least one single-semester first-year philosophy subject, or permission from the Head of the Philosophy program or from the subject coordinator.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: There is no specific background knowledge required for enrolment in this subject
Non Allowed Subjects:

This subject was previously available as The Nature of Mind and as Philosophy of Mind. Students who have completed 'The Nature of Mind' or

'Philosophy of Mind' with either the 2nd level code 161-215 or the 3rd year code 672357 are not eligible to enrol in this subject.

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering requests for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website :


Assoc Prof Greg Restall


Associate Professor Christopher Cordner

Subject Overview:

This subject will cover broad themes in the philosophy of language and the philosophy of mind, and some connections between them. We will cover central issues in the philosophy of mind such as the relationship between minds and brains (e.g. dualism, behaviourism, physicalism, functionalism, and eliminativism); the nature of mental states such as beliefs, desires and sensations; how mental states
represent features of the world; and the relationship between first-person perspective on oneself and the third-person, scientific perspective on the mind. These debates are closely bound up with issues in the philosophy of language. We will examine some of the major developments in the philosophy of language over the last century. Topics here will include the relationship between meaning and reference (how we understand words vs. what they pick out), the connection between semantics and pragmatics (what our words mean vs. how we use them to communicate), and the nature and role of convention in theories of language.


Students who successfully complete this subject will

  • develop an understanding of important theories of mind and language.
  • develop an appreciation of what motivates theories of the language and mind.
  • develop an understanding of the connections between different theories of language and mind.
Assessment: A written assignment of 2000 words 50% (due mid-semester), a 2-hour closed-book written examination 47% (due at the end of semester) and tutorial participation 3%.
Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available from the University book shop at the beginning of semester

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

Students who successfully complete this subject will

  • acquire the skill to understand new contributions to the field as they emerge.
  • acquire the ability to read complex theoretical texts from a critical perspective.
  • develop skills pertinent to assessing divergent readings of such texts.
Links to further information:

No longer offered at 3rd year.

This subject satisfies the third-year breadth requirement for third-year students in the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Biomedicine when taken in 2010 only.

Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History && Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science Major
Philosophy Major

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