IW Assignments From the faculty handbook: “For a course to qualify for IW credit, students must be required to write at least 5,000 words (roughly 20 typed pages), not counting revisions (and excluding essay examinations and informal writing, e.g., journals or brief response statements). Students must receive periodic evaluations of their writing, and they must be required to redraft one or more papers in light of the instructor’s criticism. Ordinarily students will write a series of papers over the course of a semester, not one long term paper.”

IW-1. Choose one of the "-isms" – e.g., rationalism, dualism, or behaviorism -- that has been discussed in lectures or readings, then (a) explain what it means and (b) summarize the main arguments for and against it.

IW-2. Explain functionalism to a 6th grader. In doing so, be sure to address each of the following:

  1. What does functionalism claim about the nature of mental states?
  2. How does the concept of the Turing machine relate to functionalism? In other words, 
what role does the Turing machine play in the functionalist account of the mind?

IW-3. The early part of the course has dealt with a related set
of questions, including:

The assignment for this essay is to pick two of the readings to compare and contrast, focusing on questions like the ones given above. On points where the two sides disagree, explain which side you find more convincing. 
Note: The bullet-pointed questions above are just meant as a guide. Depending on which pair of papers you choose, you might focus more on one or two of these questions and less on the other(s). Or you may find that there are other relevant questions or issues to focus on. The organization of this essay is more open ended than on previous assignments. However you choose to organize it, though, remember to be clear in terms of your introduction, paragraphing, and transitions.

IW-4. One of the themes in philosophy of cognitive science concerns the relationship between folk (or commonsense) psychology and scientific psychology (which, for our purposes, can be taken to include neuroscience, much of AI, and much of cognitive science in general). One way to understand this debate is in terms of the mind-body problem, which has been a recurring thread throughout the semester. What is the relationship between the mental realm and the physical realm (or are they identical)? Do mental states (e.g., beliefs, desires, and intentions) have "causal powers"? Why or why not? Finally, what should be the relationship between folk psychology and scientific psychology? Your assignment in this essay is to present your own argument on some aspect of the folk psychology debate. That could mean addressing one of the above questions, or it could mean focusing on another aspect of the recent material (e.g.,the Dennett paper on the intentional stance, Ch.3 of Mindware, or even some other relevant source, as long as you clear it first). Whatever the topic, make sure to inlcude the following in your essay:

  1. A clear, concise introductory paragraph that includes a statement of your thesis and a brief overview of how you plan to support it
  2. Two or three well-organized body paragraphs, each addressing a particular aspect of your argument
  3. A brief conclusion that revisits your thesis statement and (ideally) raises an additional question or two for the reader to think about in light of your arguments.

IW-5. Revision of earlier piece or draft of final piece. Choice must be pre-approved by 11/21.

IW-6. The assignment for the final paper is to write an argument-based (i.e., thesis- based) paper on a topic from the second half of the class, which means anything from Week 9 onwards, including the following topics: evolutionary approaches to cognitive science, embodied cognition, extended mind, dynamical systems approaches, etc. (Any of the material from the Discussion sections of Mindware from Ch. 4-7 would be fair game.)

You should have a discernible thesis that you back up with supporting arguments. For example, you might pick something we've read or discussed that you disagree with and want to argue against. Or you can pick something you agree with and argue for why you think so-and-so is right. In either case, you would need to offer support for your argument and also consider (and respond to) some potential counterarguments.

Writing Tutorial Services

For free help at any phase of the writing process—from brainstorming to polishing the final draft—call Writing Tutorial Services (WTS, pronounced “wits”) at 855-6738 for an appointment. When you visit WTS, you’ll find a tutor who is a sympathetic and helpful reader of your prose. To be assured of an appointment with the tutor who will know most about your class, please call in advance. WTS, in the Information Commons on the first floor of the Wells Library, is open Monday- Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and Friday 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Walk-in tutorials are available when WTS has an opening, but the appointment book often fills in advance. WTS tutors are also available for walk-in tutorials (only) in the Academic Support Centers in Briscoe, Forest, and Teter residence halls, open Sunday-Thursday 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.