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PHL 476 The Work Of Daniel Dennett (3 credits)

Daniel Dennett is one of the most influential living philosophers. A protégé of Gilbert Ryle, Dennett has had an impact that goes beyond the disciplinary boundaries of philosophy, making him one of the few contemporary philosophers whose name and work are well known to the general educated public. The heart of Dennett's work is in the philosophy of mind, where he defends an eliminative version of functionalism, arguing that many terms that philosophers argue with, and about, have little or no meaning. Such terms include "consciousness," "qualia," and "mental representation." In addition, Dennett has tried to show how his specifically philosophical views on the mind can shed light on questions in comparative psychology, ethology, and other sciences. He has also written a well-received book on Darwinism, arguing that Darwinian theory is a "universal acid" that, correctly understood, dissolves many longstanding problems and superstitions. This course will survey Dennett's body of work, and the responses of his critics, on a wide range of topics.