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Undergraduate Philosophy 2019-2020

PH1023: EXPERIENCE, KNOWLEDGE AND REALITY

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

How “real” is reality? How does the mind relate to the world? This course introduces two approaches to answering these questions: rationalism and empiricism. By Rene Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, we learn about Descartes’ rationalist approach to knowledge, reality, mind-body dualism, and God’s necessary existence. Through David Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding see how Hume grounds knowledge in experience. We read Hume on impressions and ideas, induction, causality, miracles and critically compare and examine Descartes’ and Hume’s arguments by drawing on readers and critics. Download course guide

PH1027: CONTROVERSIAL QUESTIONS

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

Watch this course video! We examine questions such as: Is eating animals immoral? Is being a good or bad person a matter of luck? If so, are we justified in punishing bad people? Should anyone be able to set limits on what you can do with your own  body, even if it's ‘for your own good’? Should everyone be allowed to state their mind, even if their views are harmful or offensive? Is censorship ever justifiable? Do you have a moral obligation to help those worse-off? Are you unknowingly biased against underprivileged groups? Download course guide

PH1522: HOW SHOULD ONE LIVE?

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

Why do the morally right thing when you have much more to gain by doing evil and know you could get away with it? Should you save five lives even if this requires you to kill someone in exchange for them? Would you lie on the witness stand to protect your guilty mother from life in prison? We will read and discuss responses to these questions that have been presented in both historical and contemporary texts, including those by Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Kant, John Stuart Mill, Bernard Williams, Judith Thomson, Shelly Kagan, and T.M. Scanlon.  Download Course Guide

PH201B: WHAT WE ARE: MIND IN A PHYSICAL WORLD

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

Watch the course video! In this course we explore a series of arguments which suggest that it is hard to fit the mind into the physical world. In particular, we focus on three topics: the Mind/Body Problem, Free Will and Determinism, and Personal Identity. Each topic starts with an argument which suggests that we are not merely physical entities like brains, the central nervous system or other biological entities. Taken together, these arguments offer a serious challenge to the view that we can explain human cognition in terms of the physical characteristics of human brains and bodies. Download course guide

PH2535: GENDER EQUALITY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

For a course description, watch this brief video!

In recent times equality among genders has attracted increasing attention. This is no longer a matter of concern to a fringe movement, but a central issue to contemporary society. In this course we will examine some of the crucial issues in the debate and assess the merits of key arguments. The topics we’ll discuss include the gender pay gap, the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and popular culture, pornography, abortion, the objectification of women, gender equality in sports, and epistemic injustice.  Download Course Guide

PH2540: METAPHYSICS AND EPISTEMOLOGY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

This course provides students with an introduction to central issues in metaphysics, epistemology, logic and philosophy of language. The emphasis is on introducing some of the central issues in these areas; issues that have shaped the contemporary debate. In addition to introducing a number of central issues in metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and philosophy of language, this course also teaches and further develops a number of essential skills including extracting and evaluating philosophical arguments, critical writing, and the application of logical concepts to philosophical problems.

PH304G: KNOWLEDGE, POWER AND SOCIETY

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This course examines issues lying at the intersection of epistemology and social, political and feminist philosophy. We will investigate how differences in the power of certain social groups affect the ability to create and share knowledge, and vice-versa. Specifically, the course focuses on epistemic injustice and its intersections with race, sex/gender, disability, and healthcare provision.

PH304H: ANCIENT ETHICS

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This course is an exploration of Ancient Greek ethics through a careful study of the arguments of several important Greek philosophers (e.g., thinkers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle). Through close readings of primary texts, classroom discussions, and writing assignments, students will become familiar with the way in which these crucial early philosophers addressed important ethical issues.

PH304L: PHILOSOPHY OF EMOTION

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

What is an emotion? Are emotions irrational? Do emotions help us to live a good life? And how are they related to our sense of self? These are some of the questions with which philosophers interested in the investigation of emotions have been concerned, and the aim of this course is to explore some of the main contributions and key debates in this area. We will start by examining different accounts of the nature of emotions, investigating for example how they may be related to judgements and perception. We will then move to examine the relationship between emotions and other dimensions of our mental and practical life, for instance looking at the role emotions play in the moral domain, and the fruition and appreciation of art, and exploring their connection with self-understanding, and social and political experience.

PH305L: SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS AND RATIONALITY

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This course provides students with an advanced introduction to key problems of scientific rationality. The central question that the course aims to address is whether scientific change is rational, and in what sense it is so. The first part of the course analyses in detail scientific, historical and philosophical aspects of the Copernican Revolution, during which the Geocentric theory of the universe was replaced with the Heliocentric one. The second part of the course introduces basic ideas and problems of confirmation theory and scientific methodology. Some familiarity with elementary logic is preferable, though not required. 

PH306D: CONTEMPORARY RESEARCH TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This team-taught course is designed to expose students to topics of contemporary research interest. Each lecturer will teach 2-4 weeks of the course on topics related to their current research. The general theme of the course for this academic year is: Human and Non-Human Minds. Accordingly, the classes and tutorials of the course will cover issues and problems of: general philosophy of mind, animal minds, artificial minds (AI), and epistemology of various mental states and processes. These are some of questions that the course will investigate: what is self-consciousness? How do we understand other people’s mental states and behaviours? Do non-human animals think? Will developments in machine learning have an impact on our concept of trust and responsibility? Are our empirical beliefs rational considering that prejudices, desires and expectations can affect the content of our perceptions? Do we have non-circular reasons to trust our memory? How can we dispel the concern that a Cartesian demon or the Matrix might mislead our most elementary inferences? Students will choose to write assessments from this broad spectrum of topics.

PH354J: GLOBAL JUSTICE

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

In this course we examine a range of authors and texts in political philosophy, both historical and contemporary, and from both the Anglo-American and continental traditions. Taking a different author and approach each week, we will address topics such as justice, freedom, inequality, citizenship, rights, conflict, and power, and use these discussions to think critically about today’s political problems and political landscape. Assessment is based on a project that students develop over the course of the semester

PH356G: PHILOSOPHY OF MEDICINE

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of medicine. It focuses on foundational and theoretical (metaphysical and epistemological) issues in medicine. The topics are chosen to provide students with an overview of some of the most central questions in this area. Among the prospective topics are

the notions of disease, illness, and health (including mental health); the nature of evidence-based medicine and the epistemic status of randomized controlled trials; methodological challenges of using animal models in biomedical research; the requirements for establishing causal relations of disease aetiologies; and the role of images and videos in biomedical research.

PH402D: DISSERTATION

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

The dissertation is on a topic in philosophy. The specific topic will be chosen by the student with the approval of the supervisor. The choice of topics is restricted insofar as it must fall within the teaching competence of the supervisor.

PH404G: KNOWLEDGE, POWER AND SOCIETY

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course examines issues lying at the intersection of epistemology and social, political and feminist philosophy. We will investigate how differences in the power of certain social groups affect the ability to create and share knowledge, and vice-versa. Specifically, the course focuses on epistemic injustice and its intersections with race, sex/gender, disability, and healthcare provision.

PH404H: ANCIENT ETHICS

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course is an exploration of Ancient Greek ethics through a careful study of the arguments of several important Greek philosophers (e.g., thinkers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle). Through close readings of primary texts, classroom discussions, and writing assignments, students will become familiar with the way in which these crucial early philosophers addressed important ethical issues.

PH404L: PHILOSOPHY OF EMOTION

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

What is an emotion? Are emotions irrational? Do emotions help us to live a good life? And how are they related to our sense of self? These are some of the questions with which philosophers interested in the investigation of emotions have been concerned, and the aim of this course is to explore some of the main contributions and key debates in this area. We will start by examining different accounts of the nature of emotions, investigating for example how they may be related to judgements and perception. We will then move to examine the relationship between emotions and other dimensions of our mental and practical life, for instance looking at the role emotions play in the moral domain, and the fruition and appreciation of art, and exploring their connection with self-understanding, and social and political experience.

PH405L: SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS AND RATIONALITY

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course provides students with an advanced introduction to key problems of scientific rationality. The central question that the course aims to address is whether scientific change is rational, and in what sense it is so. The first part of the course analyses in detail scientific, historical and philosophical aspects of the Copernican Revolution, during which the Geocentric theory of the universe was replaced with the Heliocentric one. The second part of the course introduces basic ideas and problems of confirmation theory and scientific methodology. Some familiarity with elementary logic is preferable, though not required. 

PH454J: GLOBAL JUSTICE

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

In this course we examine a range of authors and texts in political philosophy, both historical and contemporary, and from both the Anglo-American and continental traditions. Taking a different author and approach each week, we will address topics such as justice, freedom, inequality, citizenship, rights, conflict, and power, and use these discussions to think critically about today’s political problems and political landscape. Assessment is based on a project that students develop over the course of the semester.

PH456G: PHILOSOPHY OF MEDICINE

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of medicine. It focuses on foundational and theoretical (metaphysical and epistemological) issues in medicine. The topics are chosen to provide students with an overview of some of the most central questions in this area. Among the prospective topics are

the notions of disease, illness, and health (including mental health); the nature of evidence-based medicine and the epistemic status of randomized controlled trials; methodological challenges of using animal models in biomedical research; the requirements for establishing causal relations of disease aetiologies; and the role of images and videos in biomedical research

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