This course examines the fundamental nature of reality (metaphysics) and the scope and limits of human knowledge (epistemology) through a study of leading historical and contemporary theories. What exists, what can we know, and how can we know it?
There are weekly readings to introduce a topic or to develop it in detail. These readings will sharpen students' ability to read and to understand philosophical texts and to discuss the issues they involve; coursework develops students' ability to write about philosophical issues.
Seminars will cover the following topics: the analysis of knowledge; scepticism; a priori knowledge; knowledge of future: Hume's problem of induction; the structure of knowledge; truth; causation; mind and body; personal identity; free-will.
The aims of this module are to introduce students to a range of central problems in philosophy and to promote their abilities to thinking critically about them.
By the end of the course:
- You will be familiar with two major branches of philosophy – epistemology (the theory of knowledge) and metaphysics (concerned with questions about the fundamental nature of reality).
- You will have examined views expressed by important figures in the Western philosophical tradition, including Descartes, Locke, and Hume.
- You will have sharpened your ability to think critically about philosophical issues through class discussion and written work.
Coursework and assessment
|Assessed component||Basic requirements||Weighting||Deadline|
|Essay 1||1000 words||20%||Week 6|
|Essay 2||1000 words||20%||Week 12|
|Examination||2 hour paper||60%||Week 14|
- Robert Audi, Epistemology: a contemporary introduction to the theory of knowledge (Routledge: London and New York, 2nd ed., 2005).
- E.J. Lowe, A Survey of Metaphysics (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).