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Undergraduate Philosophy 2020-2021

PH1023: EXPERIENCE, KNOWLEDGE AND REALITY

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

This course is an introduction to some of the main topics and problems of contemporary epistemology and metaphysics in a form suitable for students with little or no prior background in these disciplines. In the first part, the epistemological topics may include the analysis of knowledge, scepticism about knowledge, internalise and externalism, virtue epistemology, and social epistemology. In the second part, the metaphysical topics may include modality, universals and particulars, the nature of causation, free will, and the dispute over realism and anti-realism.

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?

PH1518: LOGIC AND ARGUMENT

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

What makes an argument a good argument? What are the correct rules for reasoning? How do the meanings of sentences relate to each other? How can the tools of logic be used in philosophy?

This course provides an introduction to logic and tools for successfully evaluating arguments. Some of the topics covered include validity, soundness, consistency, entailment, provability, quantification, and identity. Two formal languages are introduced, the language of sentential logic and the language of quantified logic. The course develops the ability to symbolise English sentences into formal languages and to complete proofs in Natural Deduction. Logical concepts are applied to issues in philosophy of language, metaphysics, as well as philosophical puzzles and paradoxes.

PH1522: HOW SHOULD ONE LIVE?

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

What are the key elements of a good life? Freedom, happiness, acting in our own interests, doing good for others, or following moral laws? Philosophers have asked these questions for millennia, generating a large number of answers and a larger number of further questions. In this course, we will read and discuss theories of ethics from a range of times and cultures. We will read some of the most important works in the history of philosophy from Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Kant, and Mill, before turning to contemporary approaches including feminist ethics and virtue ethics. Throughout, we will consider and discuss our own views about the values of good and bad, right and wrong, and how to live a good life.

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. 

PH2029: LIFE, DEATH AND MEANING

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

Living a life is a full-time occupation. Our lives matter to us. But each of us will eventually die (possibly today), just as those we leave behind will eventually die. Sooner or later, after our death, we will be forgotten and the traces of our lives will disappear. Death will cut short the plans, projects, relationships and commitments we care most about. Should we therefore conclude that human life is meaningless or absurd? And if so, how should we respond to that? On this course we will consider these and related questions. All students are welcome!

PH2540: METAPHYSICS AND EPISTEMOLOGY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

This course provides students with an introduction to central issues in metaphysics and epistemology. 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 and epistemology, 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. 

PH2541: FEMINIST PHILOSOPHY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

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. 

PH304M: NIETZSCHE AND PHILOSOPHY AFTER THE DEATH OF GOD

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

The course aims to introduce students to the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and to his impact on subsequent philosophy. The course will focus on a close reading of Nietzsche’s texts themselves, with a secondary focus on significant commentators and interpreters of his works. Teaching will be delivered through a combination of lectures and discussions in tutorials/seminars.

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 1-3 weeks of the course on topics related to their current research. The general theme of the course for this academic year is: Mind, Knowledge and Trust. Accordingly, the classes and tutorials of the course will cover issues and problems of: philosophy of mind, epistemology, social epistemology and ethics. These are some of questions that the course will investigate: What does it mean that all is physical? What is physicalism? Are we just physical entities? Are our perceptual beliefs rational, considering that prejudices, desires and expectations can affect the content of perception? Do we have non-circular reasons to trust our memory? What is trust and (how) can we trust well? Do thought experiments in philosophy actually work? Students will choose to write assessments from this broad spectrum of topics.

PH306J: PHILOSOPHY OF GAMES AND SPORTS

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

The first part of the course will be devoted to a close reading of Bernard Suits’s masterpiece, The Grasshopper. In the second part of the course, we will examine philosophical issues arising in the context of sports, including (but not limited to) winning and cheating, doping and other forms of performance enhancement, the moral significance of sport, and gender and sex equality in sports.

PH306K: SCEPTICISM

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This advanced course in epistemology focuses on the recent philosophical debate on scepticism. We will single out prominent forms of scepticism and explore attempts to respond to them. The emphasis will be on external world scepticism and responses to it. The course doesn't aim to reject scepticism. Its function is rather that of illuminating and critically discussing problems affecting our most basic theses, notions and intuitions in epistemology through the analysis of sceptical arguments.

PH353M: FREE WILL AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

It seems obvious that many choices you make are entirely up to you. But according to an attractive and currently popular view, we're nothing over and above the physical universe, subject to same laws of nature that govern colliding billiard balls and decaying fruit. But if this is so, how can our actions and decisions be entirely up to us? Aren’t they the result of a string of complex physical, chemical and biological reactions that are outside of our control? If so, then why should we be praised or blamed for them? For further details see the course guide

PH354P: HONOURS RESEARCH PROJECT IN PHILOSOPHY

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

This course introduces new Honours students to core research skills and methods in the academic discipline of Philosophy. Students will receive weekly support in the design, management and delivery of a 4000 word research project.

PH354R: ANCIENT CHINESE PHILOSOPHY

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

This course offers an overview of the main schools of ancient Chinese philosophy and an exploration of some of its central themes. One of our aims will be to demonstrate the relevance of an understanding of ancient Chinese philosophy to contemporary Western philosophy, and we will also reflect on the philosophical issues that arise in understanding different cultures and forms of thinking.

PH354S: FREEDOM, POWER AND THE SELF

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

Can you choose who you want to be, or are you shaped by social and political forces beyond your control? This module considers the work of a series of French philosophers, working from the 1940s to the 1980s, who argued that the 'self' is not something pre-given, but something that we construct ourselves. Special attention will be paid to the way in which the self is created through action, history, speech, political activism, and gender identity.

PH356D: CONTEMPORARY RESEARCH TOPICS IN PHILOSOPHY

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

This team-taught course is designed to expose students to topics of contemporary research interest. Each lecturer will teach 1-3 weeks of the course on topics related to their current research. The general theme of the course for this academic year is: Mind, Knowledge and Trust. Accordingly, the classes and tutorials of the course will cover issues and problems of: philosophy of mind, epistemology, social epistemology and ethics. These are some of questions that the course will investigate: What does it mean that all is physical? What is physicalism? Are we just physical entities? Are our perceptual beliefs rational, considering that prejudices, desires and expectations can affect the content of perception? Do we have non-circular reasons to trust our memory? What is trust and (how) can we trust well? Do thought experiments in philosophy actually work? Students will choose to write assessments from this broad spectrum of topics.

PH356L: THEMES IN EPISTEMOLOGY

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

This course examines various topics, problems and arguments in contemporary epistemology. It will explore key themes by examining relatively short arguments for or against epistemological views, as developed and defended by leading philosophers in the relevant areas. Each week will be devoted to a particular debate, in the following order: knowledge-first, closure of knowledge, contextualism about knowledge, pragmatic encroachment, intellectual virtues, lucky knowledge, a priori knowledge, immediate justification, coherentism, infinitism and internalism. The course will develop further the philosophical skills acquired in previous philosophy courses, and extend the knowledge and deepen the understanding of epistemology in particular.

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.

PH404M: NIETZSCHE AND PHILOSOPHY AFTER THE DEATH OF GOD

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

The course aims to introduce students to the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche and to his impact on subsequent philosophy. The course will focus on a close reading of Nietzsche’s texts themselves, with a secondary focus on significant commentators and interpreters of his works. Teaching will be delivered through a combination of lectures and discussions in tutorials/seminars.

PH406J: PHILOSOPHY OF GAMES AND SPORTS

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

The first part of the course will be devoted to a close reading of Bernard Suits’s masterpiece, The Grasshopper. In the second part of the course, we will examine philosophical issues arising in the context of sports, including (but not limited to) winning and cheating, doping and other forms of performance enhancement, the moral significance of sport, and gender and sex equality in sports.

PH406K: SCEPTICISM

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This advanced course in epistemology focuses on the recent philosophical debate on scepticism. We will single out prominent forms of scepticism and explore attempts to respond to them. The emphasis will be on external world scepticism and responses to it. The course doesn't aim to reject scepticism. Its function is rather that of illuminating and critically discussing problems affecting our most basic theses, notions and intuitions in epistemology through the analysis of sceptical arguments.

PH453M: FREE WILL AND MORAL RESPONSIBILITY

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

It seems obvious that many choices you make are entirely up to you. But according to an attractive and currently popular view, we're nothing over and above the physical universe, subject to same laws of nature that govern colliding billiard balls and decaying fruit. But if this is so, how can our actions and decisions be entirely up to us? Aren’t they the result of a string of complex physical, chemical and biological reactions that are outside of our control? If so, then why should we be praised or blamed for them? For further details see the course guide

PH454R: ANCIENT CHINESE PHILOSOPHY

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

This course offers an overview of the main schools of ancient Chinese philosophy and an exploration of some of its central themes. One of our aims will be to demonstrate the relevance of an understanding of ancient Chinese philosophy to contemporary Western philosophy, and we will also reflect on the philosophical issues that arise in understanding different cultures and forms of thinking.

PH454S: FREEDOM, POWER, AND THE SELF

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

Can you choose who you want to be, or are you shaped by social and political forces beyond your control? This module considers the work of a series of French philosophers, working from the 1940s to the 1980s, who argued that the 'self' is not something pre-given, but something that we construct ourselves. Special attention will be paid to the way in which the self is created through action, history, speech, political activism, and gender identity.

PH456L: THEMES IN EPISTEMOLOGY

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

This course examines various topics, problems and arguments in contemporary epistemology. It will explore key themes by examining relatively short arguments for or against epistemological views, as developed and defended by leading philosophers in the relevant areas. Each week will be devoted to a particular debate, in the following order: knowledge-first, closure of knowledge, contextualism about knowledge, pragmatic encroachment, intellectual virtues, lucky knowledge, a priori knowledge, immediate justification, coherentism, infinitism and internalism. The course will develop further the philosophical skills acquired in previous philosophy courses, and extend the knowledge and deepen the understanding of epistemology in particular.

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