Proposal for Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Mind

Edited by Brian McLaughlin1 and Jonathan Cohen2

This volume will cover a representative sample of the central debates in contemporary philosophy of mind. It will include nine pairs of newly commissioned essays advocating opposing viewpoints - one for each of the nine topics listed below. In addition, it will include a substantive introduction that will present the necessary background for the debates and locate the individual topics within the philosophy of mind and in relation to one another.

The essays will each be between 6000 and 8000 words in length, and will be accessible to upper-level undergraduates and graduate students. The volume will thus be suitable as a text for advanced courses in philosophy of mind. Moreover, the essays will represent the state of play in the topic area, and will contain original argumentation by eminent philosophers, so the volume will also be an important text for academics working in the philosophy of mind and related areas.

We have organized our questions under three headings: questions about the ontology of the mental, questions about the nature of mental content, and questions about the nature of consciousness.

For each questions on our list, we have suggested a number of potential authors on each side of the question. (The potential contributors are listed in alphabetical order, rather than in order of preference.) Although some names appear more than once on our list (including appearances as backup authors) no author will make more than one contribution to the volume. Of the editors, Jonathan Cohen will not write on any of the questions, and Brian McLaughlin will write on at most one of the questions, and only in the case that we cannot find another suitable author. Finally, we may have to make small changes to the wordings of some questions in order to recruit certain authors; however, we would try not to alter the basic thrust of the questions.

1  The Ontology of the Mental

Is non-reductive materialism viable?
Is there an unresolved problem of mental causation?
Should physicalism require that all of the facts of our world be a priori deducible from the totality of physical facts and the fact that they are the totality of physical facts?

2  Mental Content

Is conceptual role partly constitutive of mental content?
Is there a viable notion of narrow mental content?
Is the intentional essentially normative?
Is externalism about mental content compatible with privileged access?

3  Consciousness

Is consciousness ontologically emergent from the physical?
Is the phenomenal character of a mental state explainable in terms of its intentional content?


1Department of Philosophy, Rutgers University, 26 Nichol Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901-1411,

2Department of Philosophy, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0119, (omit text in caps, which reduces automated spam)

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