PY1101 Epistemology and Metaphysics (½ unit, Autumn)
This course seeks to provide students with a broad conceptual framework within which to locate and evaluate some of the key problems that have preoccupied contemporary philosophers. These include logical questions relating to the structure of arguments; epistemological questions concerning the sources and limits of knowledge and the status of scientific inquiry; metaphysical questions like the relationship between minds and bodies and the possibility of human freedom. Although the emphasis is strongly on work in the Anglo-American tradition, the course aims to give students some awareness both of the historical sources of many of the problems raised and of the possibility of other traditions in philosophy.
PY1002 Introduction to Modern Philosophy (½ unit, Spring)
The ‘new philosophy’ of the seventeenth century set the modern philosophical agenda by asking fundamental questions concerning knowledge and understanding and the relation between science and other human endeavours, which subsequently became central to the European Enlightenment. This course aims to familiarise students with the origins of empiricist and rationalist/idealist thought, focussing on the work of Descartes and Locke and their subsequent elaboration in the work of Leibniz and Hume. The course situates Spinoza and Berkeley, and ends with a brief account of Kant’s attempt to synthesise the insights of the two traditions by subjecting reason to a fundamental critique.
PY1102 Tutorial Special Study (½ unit, Autumn)
Formatively, the aim of this course is to accelerate the development of critical and presentational skills that are key to the successful study of philosophy. Students meet weekly in small groups with a member of the academic staff to discuss an article or chapter of a book or some other item that has been specified in advance. This will form the basis of discussion and written work.
PY1104 Introduction to Political Philosophy (½ unit, Autumn)
This course will examine classic texts by figures in ancient and early Christian Western political thought: thinkers whose ideas still define the frameworks within which contemporary discussions of political theories still take place.
PY1541 Introduction to Ancient Philosophy (½ unit, Autumn)
The course aims both to inform students about ancient philosophical ideas and to introduce them to philosophical argument. It combines a brief survey of the principal ancient philosophers, from the Presocratics to Aristotle, with study of selected texts on the topic of courage, including Plato’s Laches. 1 required formative essay.
PY1106 Introduction to Aesthetics and Morals (½ unit, Spring)
The course aims to provide students with a broad understanding of many of the central problems and debates within moral philosophy and aesthetics. These include questions relating to both metaphysical and ethical relativism, the different ways we might understand our moral commitments within the world, how the individual is related to society, and the value and nature of the work of art.
PY1103 Introduction to Logic (½ unit, Spring)
The course aims to introduce students to the formal study of arguments through the two basic systems of modern logic: sentential or propositional logic and predicate logic. The course will introduce Russell’s formalist solution to the problem of definite descriptions, which will in turn be used to introduce the broader significance of findings in logic to philosophical inquiry.
PY1105 Mind and Consciousness (½ unit, Spring)
What is the relationship between the mind and the brain? Is the mind inside the brain? Are we any more than highly sophisticated computers? What is consciousness? This course aims to introduce these and related questions, which are central to modern philosophical debates about the nature of mind and consciousness.