PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT

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1 PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT UNDERGRADUATE HANDBOOK 2013

2 Contents Welcome to the Philosophy Department at Flinders University... 2 PHIL1010 Mind and World... 5 PHIL1060 Critical Reasoning... 6 PHIL2608 Freedom, Law, and Society... 7 PHIL2609 Philosophy and Literature... 8 PHIL2610 Truth, Reality and God: Themes from the Philosophy of Religion... 9 PHIL3601 Moral Philosophy PHIL1030 The Individual and Society PHIL2603 Mind and Consciousness PHIL2606 Reality, Perception and Knowledge PHIL2607 Philosophy and the Good Life PHIL2612 Moral Problems PHIL3602 Knowledge, Truth and Being PHIL0011 Transition Topic in Philosophy (1.5) Honours in Philosophy Thesis Seminar Courses Welcome to the Philosophy Department at Flinders University Only mathematics has been studied longer than Philosophy. Both were principal subjects studied in Ancient Greece within the first schools which tried to do something like what Universities do today in developing and passing on learning. Philosophy and mathematics both deal with arguments. But philosophers are concerned with arguments because they seek well reasoned answers to the most difficult questions to Page 2

3 answer definitively. These are large questions that people often ask, such as: What is knowledge? What is consciousness? What is freedom? Do we have a soul? Is there a God? What is rational? What is good? What is just? Since these questions are large and difficult, students cannot expect definitive answers from a few semesters' study. But from an investigation of what philosophers have thought about these questions they will learn how to understand answers that philosophers have given to them, and will learn how to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their arguments. They will also be in a better position to arrive at their own more reflective and critical views on these questions. The skills students develop in the course of their study of Philosophy will prove invaluable in studying other subjects and in meeting requirements for promotion in subsequent employment. The centrality of Philosophy to a University education was recognized when Flinders University was formed and the first Professor of Philosophy, Brian Medlin, was one of the founding professors of the University. The Philosophy Department continues to provide an introduction to the study of all the fundamental questions listed above, grouped into two broad streams. The first stream has topics dealing with questions about the nature, and our knowledge of, the world and our place in it. The second stream deals with questions about how we ought to live. At present, the Philosophy Department has three full time and three part time members of staff, four visiting or adjunct scholars, several hundred undergraduate students and post graduate and honours students. Contact Details Philosophy Office Humanities Building, Room 252/254 Phone: Fax: Page 3

4 SEMESTER ONE TOPICS Page 4

5 PHIL1010 Mind and World Topic Coordinator: Associate Professor Ian Ravenscroft Enrolment not permitted Assessment Reading 2 1-hour lectures weekly 1 1-hour tutorial weekly If PHIL1010A has been successfully completed Assignment(s); Tutorial participation. A Reader will be available for sale through Unibooks. This topic examines certain fundamental questions about ourselves, our world, and our place in the world. Questions include: Does God exist? Is the mind the brain? What is consciousness? What is knowledge? By thinking and writing about questions like these students will improve their ability to write clear, argumentative essays. No previous familiarity with philosophy is assumed. This topic aims to: introduce students to philosophical issues concerning the existence of God introduce students to philosophical issues concerning the nature of mind introduce students to philosophical issues concerning the nature of knowledge improve students' ability to carefully express their views in written form After completing this topic, students should be able to: state and critically assess arguments for and against the existence of God state and critically assess dualist and physicalist positions about the mind state and critically assess philosophical theories about the nature and scope of human knowledge write a clear, carefully constructed, argumentative essay Page 5

6 PHIL1060 Critical Reasoning Topic Coordinator: Dr Lina Eriksson Enrolment not permitted 1 2-hour seminar weekly If PHIL1060A has been successfully completed Assessment Assignment(s); Examination(s) (30%). Reading How to Think about Weird Things, Sixth Edition, by Theodore Schick and Lewis Vaughn (Available at Unibooks) This topic is an introduction to informal logic and the nature of argument. The topic will aid students in developing their clear thinking skills and their ability to construct and identify good arguments. Specific elements of critical reasoning dealt with in this topic include: identifying the structure of arguments; distinguishing arguments from explanations and opinions; the nature of, and differences between, deductive arguments, inductive arguments (of various kinds), and arguments by analogy; the rules of categorical and propositional logic; determining whether an argument is valid, sound, or cogent; the appropriate use of evidence in argument; and common fallacies, ambiguities, and problems of definition. This topic aims to teach students some basic concepts in critical thinking and logic such as: the difference between arguments and opinions and explanations the structure of arguments the conditions for an argument to be cogent or valid common fallacies of reasoning basic rules of categorical and propositional logic Inductive and Inductive Causal Arguments reasoning from analogy On completion of this topic students will be able to: distinguish arguments from opinions and explanations represent arguments diagrammatically recognise whether an argument commits one of the common fallacies, e.g., fallacies of relevance determine whether an argument is cogent determine whether a deductive argument is valid assess inductive arguments assess arguments by analogy Page 6

7 PHIL2608 Freedom, Law, and Society Topic Coordinator: Associate Professor Ian Hunt Prerequisites Enrolment not permitted 1 1-hour lecture weekly 1 1-hour tutorial weekly 9 units of first level topics If PHIL2330 has been successfully completed This topic examines some central concepts in the philosophy of law, such as freedom, equality and justice. Consideration is given to problems in the philosophy of law, including: Does the law restrict or enhance our freedom? What is the relationship between law and morality? Are voluntary contractual relationships inherently just? Is equality necessary for Justice? Also, a critical assessment is given of some legal institutions, including property, employment and the family. This topic aims to: provide students with an understanding of the philosophical foundations of justice, liberty and equality and an evaluation of the way some important social institutions, including the legal system, embody these values encourage students to comprehend and identify key points in contemporary discussions of issues concerned with law reform and issues of fairness in important social institution such as property, employment and the family encourage students to formulate a philosophical problem and develop a fairly sustained argument for an important position in some key debates concerned with justice, liberty or equality, including debates as to whether important social institutions adequately embody these values, while making extensive reference to significant contributions in modern moral and political philosophy equip students to acquire a reasonably deep comprehension of significant positions and arguments about justice, liberty or equality and whether important social institutions adequately embody these values engage in sound argument for or against some of those positions evaluate the soundness of significant arguments found in modern moral and political philosophy for and against those positions Students must demonstrate both verbally and in writing that they: have read and understood some significant discussions of some important issues in contemporary moral and political philosophy, especially those concerned with justice, liberty or equality and whether important social institutions adequately embody these values have read and understood some key arguments on important issues contemporary moral and political philosophy, especially those concerned with justice, liberty or equality and whether important social institutions adequately embody these values can articulate in discussion and written work their understanding of some important issues that interest them concerned with justice, liberty or equality and whether important social institutions adequately embody these values can present a reasonably sustained philosophical debate in writing on some of these issues Page 7

8 PHIL2609 Philosophy and Literature Topic Coordinator: Dr Craig Taylor Prerequisites 1 1-hour lecture weekly 1 1-hour tutorial weekly 9 units of first level topics This topic is both a philosophical examination of literature and an examination of how literature may contribute to philosophy. Specific issues and questions to be discussed will include: What makes a work of literature a work of art?; What makes something a work of literature?; How can readers respond emotionally to fictional characters?; Is one of the central values of literature to impart truths?; In what ways might literature as literature contribute to moral understanding? This topic aims to introduce students to: important questions in literary/philosophical aesthetics the most influential critical theories of literature On completion of this topic students will be able to: explain the central philosophical issues and problems concerning literature discussed in the topic critically assess the philosophical responses to the above problems write clearly in responding to the questions in literary/philosophical aesthetics discussed in this topic Page 8

9 PHIL2610 Truth, Reality and God: Themes from the Philosophy of Religion Topic Coordinator: Dr Andrew Gleeson Prerequisites 1 2-hour seminar weekly 9 units of first level topics This topic provides an introduction to philosophical thought about the nature of religious belief. Issues may include: the nature of and arguments for God's existence, the problem of evil, life after death, faith and reason, miracles and naturalistic explanations of religion. Though the focus will be mainly on Judeo-Christian faith there may also be attention to Eastern religions. A distinctive feature of the topic will be the attempt to philosophise with close attention to actual religious texts and practices. Students will be required to ask of philosophical writings: to what extent do they impose philosophical pre-conceptions on religion? This topic aims to: introduce students to important questions in philosophy of religion equip students to assess intelligently the arguments philosophers have given on those questions On completion of this topic students will be able to: explain the central issues and concepts in philosophy of religion assess intelligently the philosophical responses to those issues demonstrate a deepened appreciation of the nature of religion Page 9

10 PHIL3601 Moral Philosophy Topic Coordinator: Dr Craig Taylor Prerequisites Enrolment not permitted Assumed Knowledge 1 2-hour seminar weekly 9 units of topics If PHIL2110 has been successfully completed As a third-year level topic in the Philosophy major sequence, this topic assumes a familiarity with the kind of knowledge, conceptual understanding and skill that would be acquired by completion of at least 9 units of second-year level topics from the Philosophy major sequence. This topic examines questions about the nature of morality. The topic is divided into the following four parts; Motivation: What motive do we have for acting morally? Do we only act morally reluctantly? Reason: Are moral reasons in some sense a rational requirement on action? Can we be motivated to act at all in the absence of the particular contingent sentiments, desires or interests we happen to possess? Virtue: Is morality properly explained in terms of human virtue or excellence of character? In what sense are we required to act as morality indicates? Truth: Does morality have an objective basis? Do moral judgments admit of being true or false? This topic aims to: introduce students to key issues in contemporary moral philosophy with a specific focus on issues in meta-ethics and moral psychology introduce students to some key historical texts in moral philosophy relevant for to the issues noted above help students improve their reasoning skills by helping them to make careful distinctions between issues and pay very close attention to arguments In undertaking this topic students should: acquire knowledge of central issues in meta-ethics and moral psychology and of ways of dealing with those issues acquire a familiarity with some classic texts improve their critical reading and reasoning skills, both in verbal form and in writing Page 10

11 SEMESTER TWO TOPICS Page 11

12 PHIL1030 The Individual and Society Topic Coordinator: Dr Craig Taylor Enrolment not permitted Assessment Reading Background Reading 2 1-hour lectures weekly 1 1-hour tutorial weekly If PHIL1030A has been successfully completed Assignments; Tutorial presentation; Tutorial participation. James Rachels and Stuart Rachels, The Elements of Moral Philosophy Sixth Edition (McGraw-Hill 2009). Jonathan Wolff, An Introduction to Political Philosophy (O.U.P., 1996). A Reader will be available for sale through Unibooks. J Feinberg, Social Philosophy (Prentice-Hall1973) An introduction to moral and social philosophy through a study of modern conceptions of freedom, power and morality. It considers questions such as: Is what we do really right or wrong? What are the fundamental principles of morality? Do we need government, and, if so, how should we be governed? Is our society a free society? This topic aims to: address in an introductory way the key issues in metaethics, normative ethics and political philosophy in modern philosophy encourage students to comprehend and identify key points in contemporary discussion of metaethics, normative ethics and political philosophy encourage students to formulate approaches to issues and develop, making reference to significant contributions in modern philosophy, a relatively simple argument for an important position in some key debates in all three of the areas of contemporary metaethics, normative ethics and political philosophy equip students to: o comprehend in a basic way significant positions and arguments in all three of the areas of contemporary metaethics, normative ethics and political philosophy o engage in relatively simple but sound argument for or against some of those positions o evaluate the soundness of significant arguments found in modern philosophy for and against those positions Students must demonstrate that they: have read and understood introductory discussions of some important issues in contemporary metaethics, normative ethics and political philosophy have read and understood some key arguments on important issues in contemporary metaethics, normative ethics and political philosophy can articulate in discussion and written work: o their understanding of some important issues in contemporary metaethics, normative ethics and political philosophy that interest them o a philosophical debate on these issues rationally-drawn conclusions from the debate thus presented Page 12

13 PHIL2603 Mind and Consciousness Topic Coordinator: Associate Professor Ian Ravenscroft Prerequisites Enrolment not permitted 1 2-hour seminar weekly 9 units of first level topics If PHIL2040 has been successfully completed This topic examines fundamental issues in the metaphysics of mind. It begins by considering a range of possible answers to the question `What are mental states?'. Theories considered include dualism, behaviourism, mind-brain identity theory, and functionalism. The topic then moves on to the issue of consciousness. What is it to be conscious? How could a physical object like the brain generate our rich conscious experiences? Throughout the topic emphasis will be placed on clear thinking, rigorous argument, and the careful exposition of ideas both orally and in writing. This topic aims to: introduce students to philosophical theories of mental states introduce students to current issues in the study of consciousness provide students with sufficient historical and theoretical background so that they can read and understand significant philosophical texts in the field for themselves improve students' critical thinking and communication skills By the end of the topic students will be able to: exhibit a basic understanding of dualism, behaviourism, mind-brain identity theory, and functionalism exhibit a good understanding of basic issues in the study of consciousness, including the Knowledge Argument, epiphenomenalism, and representationalism think critically and communicate effectively about fundamental issues in the metaphysics of mind Page 13

14 PHIL2606 Reality, Perception and Knowledge Topic Coordinator: Associate Professor Ian Hunt Prerequisites Enrolment not permitted 1 2-hour seminar weekly 9 units of first level topics If PHIL2022 has been successfully completed This topic is designed to introduce students to recent philosophical material on knowledge and science. Questions will include: To what extent do our theoretical biases influence perception? Are there any rational procedures for gathering knowledge? Is there any fundamental difference between science and witchcraft? To what extent is scientific knowledge socially constructed? Do the social features of science make science relative or subjective? Is science male biased? What role should science and scientific ways of thought play in society? This topic aims to: acquaint students with key issues in the epistemology and metaphysics of the sciences introduce students to recent arguments and literature in the metaphysics and epistemology of the sciences enable students to formulate a coherent argument which makes reference to some key recent literature in the metaphysics and epistemology of the sciences enable students to clearly express their ideas about the philosophy of science both in writing and orally On completing this topic students will have: read and understood central texts on the metaphysics and epistemology of the sciences understood and appreciate the significance of recent arguments on important issues in the epistemology and metaphysics of the sciences the ability to formulate clear arguments on important issues in the philosophy of science the ability to clearly communicate their idea about the philosophy of science both in writing and orally Page 14

15 PHIL2607 Philosophy and the Good Life Topic Coordinator: Dr George Couvalis Prerequisites Enrolment not permitted 1 2-hour seminar weekly 9 units of first level topics If PHIL2400 has been successfully completed Students will be introduced to a number of important philosophical questions on the nature of the good life, including: What is it that makes a life worth living? What makes a life a good life? What is the role of rationality and planning in the good life? What is the role of self-interest in the good life? What is the role of the interests of others in the good life? What is the role of justice in the good life? There will be a particular focus on the views of Greek philosophers, particularly Aristotle. This topic aims to: address key issues in central theories of the good life identify key points in recent discussions of the good life encourage students to formulate a coherent argument which make reference to some key literature, both ancient and recent, on the good life enable students to clearly express their ideas about the philosophy of science both in writing and orally On completion of this topic students will: have read and understood central texts on the good life appreciate and critique some of the central arguments in ancient and recent literature on the good life be able to formulate their own views and arguments on some important issues in recent literature on the good life be able to clearly express their philosophical views on the good life both in writing and orally Page 15

16 PHIL2612 Moral Problems Topic Coordinator: Dr Andrew Gleeson Prerequisites 1 2-hour seminar weekly 9 Units in any topics This topic is an introduction to the philosophical study of controversial moral issues. Topics studied may include animal rights, abortion and infanticide, euthanasia, war, terrorism, torture, affirmative action and censorship, among others. Careful attention will be paid to the underlying conceptual assumptions of the field. This topic aims to: introduce students to the underlying concepts of mainstream applied ethics, such as utility, rights, flourishing, autonomy and personhood, and to critical perspectives on these concepts introduce students to the application of these concepts to a number of controversial contemporary moral problems: e.g. animal rights, abortion and infanticide, euthanasia, war, terrorism, torture, affirmative action and censorship, among others acquaint students with some classic papers and arguments on these topics improve students capacity for clear thinking and writing on philosophical topics On completion of this topic students will be able to: explain clearly and accurately the basic concepts of applied ethics, such as utility, rights, flourishing, autonomy and personhood, and to critical perspectives on these concepts explain clearly and accurately the arguments applying these concepts to a number of controversial contemporary moral problems: e.g. animal rights, abortion and infanticide, euthanasia, war, terrorism, torture, affirmative action and censorship, among others discuss and appraise some classic papers and arguments on these topics demonstrate improved clarity and rigour of philosophical thought Page 16

17 PHIL3602 Knowledge, Truth and Being Topic Coordinator: Dr George Couvalis Prerequisites Enrolment not permitted Assumed Knowledge 1 2-hour seminar weekly 9 units of topics If 1 of PHIL2024, PHIL2025 has been successfully completed As a third-year level topic in the Philosophy major sequence, this topic assumes a familiarity with the kind of knowledge, conceptual understanding and skill that would be acquired by completion of at least 9 units of second-year level topics from the Philosophy major sequence. In this topic, a range of views about knowledge and a range of paradoxes and issues in metaphysics are discussed by using texts from ancient and modern philosophers. Topics discussed include: What is knowledge? What relevance does evolution have to epistemology? What sorts of things exist? What is change? Is everything always changing? If so, does anything really exist? Does time exist? This topic aims to: introduce students to some central issues in epistemology and metaphysics, including the significance of evolution for epistemology and the nature of time and being introduce students to classic philosophical texts, including works by Leibniz, Kant and Russell develop students' reasoning skills by helping them to make careful distinctions between issues and paying close attention to arguments enable students to clearly express their ideas and arguments both in writing and orally On completion of this topic students will have: read and understood key texts on metaphysics and epistemology read and understood a range of central arguments in epistemology and metaphysics the ability to formulate arguments on some important issues in modern literature on epistemology and metaphysics be able to clearly express their ideas about and arguments both in writing and orally Page 17

18 TOPICS IN BOTH SEMESTERS Page 18

19 PHIL0011 Transition Topic in Philosophy (1.5) Topic Coordinator: Associate Professor Ian Hunt Topic coordinator's approval required for enrolment. Units 1.5 Assumed Knowledge As per topic in which the student completes the prescribed assessment This topic is intended for use by students who require 1.5 units to complete a programme of study. Students elect to undertake a Philosophy which exists within their course rule. Students undertake an extra piece of assessment, or increase the weighting and length of an existing piece of assessment. The nature of this assessment and the associated topic should be decided in consultation with the topic coordinator. The educational aims of this topic will match those of the associated topic for which the student is completing the further study and assessment. The expected learning outcomes of this topic will match those of associated topic for which the student is completing the further study and assessment. PHIL0012 Transition topic in Philosophy (1.5) Topic Coordinator: Associate Professor Ian Hunt Topic coordinator's approval required for enrolment. Units 1.5 This topic is intended for use by students who require 1.5 units to complete a programme of study. Students elect to undertake a Philosophy topic which exists within their course rule. Students undertake an extra piece of assessment or increase the weighting and length of an existing piece of assessment. The nature of this assessment and the associated topic should be decided in consultation with the topic coordinator. The educational aims of this topic will match those of the associated topic for which the student is completing the further study and assessment. The expected learning outcomes of this topic will match those of the associated topic for which the student is completing the further study and assessment. Page 19

20 PHIL0033 Transition Topic in Philosophy (3.0) Topic Coordinator: Associate Professor Ian Hunt Topic coordinator's approval required for enrolment. Units 3 Assumed Knowledge As per topic in which the student completes the prescribed assessment This topic is intended for use by students who require three units to complete a programme of study. Students elect to undertake a Philosophy topic which exists within their course rule. Assessment within that topic will then be negotiated to reflect a three unit topic weighting. The nature of this assessment and the associated topic should be decided in consultation with the topic coordinator. The educational aims of this topic will match those of the topic in which the student completes the prescribed assessment. The expected learning outcomes of this topic will match those of the topic in which the student completes the prescribed assessment. Page 20

21 HONOURS IN PHILOSOPHY GENERAL REQUIREMENTS The Discipline of Philosophy at Flinders University and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Adelaide jointly run the Honours programme in Philosophy. The programme is completed over one year on a full-time basis or two years part-time. It comprises three semesterlength seminar courses and a thesis. For Honours prerequisites, please consult the University Calendar of the University at which you wish to enrol. All students must do at least one-third of their programme (i.e. at least two seminar courses or thesis supervision) in the department in which they are formally enrolled. These arrangements do not apply to Combined Honours (i.e. Honours in Philosophy combined with Honours in some other discipline). The arrangements for Combined Honours will be determined on an individual basis. See the Honours Handbook for further details or contact Dr Lina Eriksson, Honours convenor on THESIS Prospective Honours students are asked to see their Honours Co-ordinator at the earliest opportunity to discuss a possible thesis topic and supervisor(s), as it is expected that students will be working on their theses during the summer vacation. In any case, prospective Honours students should have arranged both a thesis topic and supervisor(s) by 31st January The thesis must be in the range of 15,000 18,000 words, and is worth 50% of the final Honours mark. If students wish to receive comments on their thesis, they should submit a thesis draft to their supervisor(s) not later than 31st August. (In the case of part-time students who are doing their thesis in the first year, they are to submit a draft of their thesis not later than 31st October of the first year.) After this date, supervisors may refuse to comment on thesis drafts. The content of the thesis is to be significantly different from the content of any other work submitted as part of the Honours course. SEMINAR COURSES At least six semester-length seminar courses will be mounted between the two participating departments in any years, three by the Adelaide Department and three by the Flinders Discipline. This number is exclusive of a Logic seminar course at Honours level. Logic is deemed to be a special case, and will be mounted in any year in response to student interest. The seminar courses are divided into two categories: Moral/Social Philosophy, and Epistemology/Metaphysics Logic. Students must take at least one topic from each area. Page 21

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