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A list of topics by session is available in the calendar below.


This course is a survey of recent philosophy of perception. The main topics discussed are the following: the transparency of perceptual experience, disjunctivism, the content of perceptual experience, perceptual consciousness, thought ownership and thought disorders (focussing on schizophrenia), introspection, and the perception of sound. Questions raised by these topics include "In what way is imagination distinct from perception?", "Is there a perceptual relation?", "What is the view that perceptual experiences have representational content?", "In what way is introspection distinct from perception?", "What does the phenomenon of 'thought insertion' show about the ownership of thoughts?", and "What is a sound?". We explore these topics through reading, writing, and presentations by the instructors and guests.


Permission of the instructor.

Required Texts

The required texts below are complemented with original papers in readings. There are recommended readings for additional background.

Amazon logo Campbell, John. Reference and Consciousness. Oxford Cognitive Science Series. Edited by Martin Davies, James Higginbotham, Philip Johnson-Laird, Christopher Peacocke, and Kim Plunkett. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002. ISBN: 9780199243815.

Amazon logo Gendler, Tamar Szabó, and John Hawthorne, eds. Perceptual Experience. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press, 2006. ISBN: 9780199289769.

Amazon logo Frith, Christopher, and Eve Johnstone. Schizophrenia: A Very Short Introduction. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2003. ISBN: 9780192802217.

Amazon logo O'Callaghan, Casey. Sounds: A Philosophical Theory. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780199215928.


The course grade will be based primarily on the 20-page term paper on a topic negotiated with the instructor. Two three-page squibs will also be required.

Statement Regarding Academic Misconduct*

To put it bluntly, plagiarism is theft and fraud -- it is the theft of someone else's ideas, words, approach, and phrasing; it's fraud because the writer is trying to profit (a grade) by claiming as his/her own someone else's work. Because plagiarism can have severe disciplinary consequences, it is crucial to understand the concept. Just as scientists demand complete and accurate information about experiments so that they duplicate and check those experiments, so scholars and readers demand complete information so they can check your use of sources and accuracy in reporting what others said. In all academic writing, then, you must give complete citations (e.g., author, title, source, page) each time you use someone else's ideas, words, phrasing, or unusual information. An insidious form of plagiarism is the 'patchwork paper' - some words and ideas taken from source A are stitched together with words and ideas from source B and source C and so on. Your essays should be your own work, although you are encouraged to seek writing advice from the Writing and Communication Center. If there is any question about whether the student's paper is his or her own work, TAs have been directed to bring the paper directly to the professor. Every effort will be made to determine whether the paper is plagiarized. This is an attempt to be fair to the teachers and the other students in the course. There are 4 guidelines for using sources in your essays:

  1. There is never a good reason to paraphrase a source-either summarize it in your own words or quote it exactly (citing the source in either case).
  2. When you quote, quote exactly, use quotation marks, and cite the source.
  3. When you use information that might not be considered common knowledge, cite the source.
  4. When in doubt about whether or not to give a citation, always give a citation.

Additional Information: Citing and Using Sources

*This statement has been issued by the HASS Committee on Discipline.

Recommended Citation

For any use or distribution of these materials, please cite as follows:

Alex Byrne and Susanna Siegel, course materials for 24.500 Topics in the Philosophy of Mind: Perceptual Experience, Spring 2007. MIT OpenCourseWare (, Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Downloaded on [DD Month YYYY].




Martin: Transparency

2 Martin: Transparency (cont.) First squib out five days after Ses #2
3 Campbell: Reference and consciousness

Visitor: John Campbell

Johnston: Sensory awareness

First squib due

Johnston: Sensory awareness (cont.)

Siegel: Contents of visual experience

6 Crane: Perceptual relations
7 Campbell, Frith, and Johnstone: Thought insertion and schizophrenia Second squib out two days after Ses #7

Thought insertion (cont.)

Chalmers: Perception and fall from Eden

9 Visitor: David Chalmers
10 Block: Consciousness Second squib due
11 Schwitzgebel: Introspection
12 O'Callaghan: Sounds
13 Visitor: Casey O'Callaghan Term paper due