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Undergraduate Philosophy 2021-2022

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 metaphysical topics include personal identity, existence, modality, objects and properties and causation. In the second part, the epistemological topics include types of knowledge, virtues and faculties, perception, testimony and memory, and a priority and inference.

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. 

PH2041: FEMINIST PHILOSOPHY

15 credits

Level 2

First 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. 

PH2529: LIFE, DEATH AND MEANING

15 credits

Level 2

Second 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. 

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.

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 3-4 weeks of the course on topics related to their current research. The general theme of the course for this academic year is Knowledge, Mind and Genes. Accordingly, the lectures and seminars of the course will cover issues and problems of current epistemology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of life sciences. These are some of the questions that the course will investigate: Do our genes determine who we are? And how would they do that? What does it mean that all is physical? Are we just physical entities? Are our perceptual beliefs rational, considering that prejudices, desires and expectations can change the content of perception? Students will choose to write assessments from this broad spectrum of topics.

PH306L: SOCIAL EPISTEMOLOGY

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This course examines various themes and problems that arise when epistemic agents are situated in a social context. First, we investigate how agents can acquire knowledge through testimonial exchanges with others and especially experts, what rational response agents should adopt in cases of disagreement with other peers. We consider so-called absence-based reasoning on the basis of epistemic coverage provided by news outlets, and we examine whether groups, institutions or organisations are capable of being in states of knowledge themselves, or more generally whether such collectives constitute epistemic agents with a mind of their own. Then we turn to the question of how access to the internet through technological devices on which agents frequently rely can extend or augment their knowledge. Finally, we look at issues to do with epistemic bubbles and echo chambers on social media, trusting the internet, fake news and conspiracy theories. The course will develop further the philosophical skills acquired in previous philosophy courses, and extend the knowledge and deepen the understanding of social epistemology, in particular.

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.

PH355L: SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS AND RATIONALITY

30 credits

Level 3

Second 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. 

PH355M: THE OPEN FUTURE

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

A commonly held idea is that the past is settled and closed, whereas the future is unsettled and open. There is no use in crying over spilled milk, what's done is done. In contrast, the future is open with possibilities; it's ours to shape. What is behind this difference we attribute to past and future? Is the future genuinely open in a way in which the past is not? If so, then how exactly should this openness be characterized? The course will also take a close look at our thought and talk about the future. Do utterances about the future, such as “It will rain tomorrow”, presently have a determinate truth-value?  Is knowledge about the future possible? Does truth and knowledge of the future threaten the idea that the future is unsettled or open? Topics that will be studied include: ontological debates within the philosophy of time, metaphysical indeterminacy, the semantics of future contingents, fatalist arguments against free action, the problem of freedom and foreknowledge, as well as causal determinism and indeterminism.

PH355P: CREATIVITY

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

In this course we will explore such questions as the following: What is creativity? How is it best defined? Can it be explained? Is creativity a virtue? What is its value? Can it be taught? What are some of the recent theories of creativity? What objections might be raised to them? Is artistic creativity different from scientific creativity? What is the relationship between creativity and imagination? What role does creativity play in philosophy? How can we foster creativity?

PH402D: DISSERTATION

30 credits

Level 4

Full Year

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.

Another dissertation or Project course must not be undertaken alongside the Philosophy Dissertation

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.

PH406L: SOCIAL EPISTEMOLOGY

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This course examines various themes and problems that arise when epistemic agents are situated in a social context. First, we investigate how agents can acquire knowledge through testimonial exchanges with others and especially experts, what rational response agents should adopt in cases of disagreement with other peers. We consider so-called absence-based reasoning on the basis of epistemic coverage provided by news outlets, and we examine whether groups, institutions or organisations are capable of being in states of knowledge themselves, or more generally whether such collectives constitute epistemic agents with a mind of their own. Then we turn to the question of how access to the internet through technological devices on which agents frequently rely can extend or augment their knowledge. Finally, we look at issues to do with epistemic bubbles and echo chambers on social media, trusting the internet, fake news and conspiracy theories. The course will develop further the philosophical skills acquired in previous philosophy courses, and extend the knowledge and deepen the understanding of social epistemology, in particular.

PH455L: SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS AND RATIONALITY

30 credits

Level 4

Second 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. 

PH455M: THE OPEN FUTURE

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

A commonly held idea is that the past is settled and closed, whereas the future is unsettled and open. There is no use in crying over spilled milk, what's done is done. In contrast, the future is open with possibilities; it's ours to shape. What is behind this difference we attribute to past and future? Is the future genuinely open in a way in which the past is not? If so, then how exactly should this openness be characterized? The course will also take a close look at our thought and talk about the future. Do utterances about the future, such as “It will rain tomorrow”, presently have a determinate truth-value?  Is knowledge about the future possible? Does truth and knowledge of the future threaten the idea that the future is unsettled or open? Topics that will be studied include: ontological debates within the philosophy of time, metaphysical indeterminacy, the semantics of future contingents, fatalist arguments against free action, the problem of freedom and foreknowledge, as well as causal determinism and indeterminism.

PH455P: CREATIVITY

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

In this course we will explore such questions as the following: What is creativity? How is it best defined? Can it be explained? Is creativity a virtue? What is its value? Can it be taught? What are some of the recent theories of creativity? What objections might be raised to them? Is artistic creativity different from scientific creativity? What is the relationship between creativity and imagination? What role does creativity play in philosophy? How can we foster creativity?

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