PSYCH 214: Biological Psychology
write an essay of about 2000 words on the topic below. Be concise; essays that greatly exceed 2000 words will not be counted more, and might be counted less. The essay is due in the HSS Office (level 2 HSS) by 4 pm on Friday of week 7. Earlier submissions will of course be accepted! Late submissions will lose 10% of the total points for each day that the essay is late including weekends. Please note that this rule is not negotiable (except in cases of a fully documented medical or family emergency), so I strongly suggest that you begin working on your essay as soon as possible.
Topic One of the most perplexing issues science has ever confronted is the mind-body problem. Historically, a number of famous philosophers have tried to address this issue without the benefit of the unprecedented wealth of information available today concerning the workings of the brain. Yet despite all our current knowledge about brain-behaviour relationships, there still seems to be a major Mystery lurking here. Your essay must address ALL of the following issues (how to organize these is entirely up to you): What is consciousness? What are the major theoretical/philosophical positions on the mind-body problem? Which species are likely to be conscious? How can we determine whether a particular non-human species, or even another human, actually has subjective experiences such as seeing colors or feeling pain? Could a purely mechanical, physical system or “zombie” perform all the behavioural functions of humans or animals, but without the subjective aspect (i.e., without phenomenal consciousness)? Could a conscious robot ever be created? Whatever position you take, be sure to back it up with relevant evidence.
Resources Your textbook introduces the mind-body problem. Your essay should cite at least 6 journal articles (NO websites including Wikipedia) as sources. An excellent resource is philosopher David Chalmers’ compilation of thousands of papers on consciousness issues, found at http://consc.net/online. The library has a limited selection of hard copies of journals and books but provides electronic access to a large number of journals. Documentary delivery service is also available but keep in mind that it may take several weeks for the library to receive any article or book you order, so do so well in advance of the due date.
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