Accessibility statement

World and Mind - PHI00144H

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Stephen Everson
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

This module will investigate the relation between the world and the mind. It will focus on questions of how we manage to have thoughts about particular objects, and how perception affords us knowledge of the external world.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

Module aims

According to one influential account of the mind, of the kind found in Descartes, even if the external world did not exist, we could still enjoy the same thoughts that we now do as parts of it. That account has come under severe challenge in modern philosophy by those who argue that ther very content of our thoughts rests on our responding to a material world of which we are ourselves parts. The module will explore that challenge and consider topics that are at the intersection of Philosophy of Mind and Epistemology: what is it to have thoughts about particular items? How does perception afford us knowledge of the external world? The approach of the module will be to study a series of key papers so as to achieve a critical and close understanding of the issues they raise. Work for the module will thus not only furnish an understanding of these central philosophical topics, it will deepen students’ ability to engage in close reading of some intricate and subtle philosophical texts.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students should be able to:

  • Explain the Cartesian conception of thought and knowledge.

  • Explain and critically evaluate a range of challenges to the Cartersian conception.

  • Defend informed opinions about what aspects, if any, of the Cartersian conception are still defensible in light of its challenges.

Module content

Knowledge by acquaintance and by description; reference; the content of thought; singular thoughts; mental representation; disjunctivism about perceptual experience; criteria and defeasibility.


Task Length % of module mark
Summative Assessment
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Summative Assessment
N/A 100

Module feedback

The standard time

Indicative reading

Saul Kripke, Naming and Necessity; John McDowell, ‘Singular Thought and the Extent of Inner Space’, ‘Criteria, Defeasibility and Knowledge’.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.