The majority of Arts Majors require 100 points of study for attainment. This means out of the 300 point program, you have the opportunity to achieve two Majors in your course. Along with this, the Faculty of Arts offers a variety of Breadth Subjects designed to enhance your learning with options from a variety of fields.
Students completing a Major in Philosophy
A Major in Philosophy consists of eight 12.5-point subjects, totalling 100 points:
- One Arts Foundation subject (Reason (MULT10016) is recommended) AND Philosophy: The Great Thinkers (PHIL10002) OR Philosophy: The Big Questions (PHIL10003)
- Three Level 2 Philosophy subjects
- Two Level 3 Philosophy subjects AND the compulsory Capstone subject The Philosophy of Philosophy (PHIL30007)
Students completing a Minor in Philosophy
A Minor in Philosophy consists of six 12-point subjects, totalling 75 points:
- One Arts Foundation subject (Reason (MULT10016) is recommended) AND Philosophy: The Great Thinkers (PHIL10002) OR Philosophy: The Big Questions (PHIL10003)
- Two Level 2 Philosophy subjects
- Two Level 3 Philosophy subjects
This is a sample subject list only. Subjects offered may change from year to year. Current and commencing students must refer to the University Handbook for enrolment purposes.
Sample Study Plans
|Level 1 Compulsory subjects|
|Philosophy: The Big Questions||12.5|
Philosophy: The Big Questions
Philosophy, literally "the love of wisdom", has long been associated with the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. Philosophical questions tend to be foundational and abstract in nature. In this course, we'll aim to connect those questions to practical issues. One theme will be skepticism, about knowledge and about science. What is knowledge, and do we actually know what we take ourselves to know? Do we know that there is an external world, or might it be merely an illusion? How is it possible for scientific knowledge of laws of nature to be based on limited observation of empirical facts? Other themes include ethics, and identity. What makes you you, and how do you know? What moral obl...
Detailed Information PHIL10002
|Philosophy: The Great Thinkers||12.5|
Philosophy: The Great Thinkers
Philosophy has been called 'the Queen of the Sciences' and to this day the questions it poses are fundamental to disciplines across the university. In 'Big Questions', you are introduced to the state-of-the-art problems in contemporary philosophy. But philosophy has a history, which invites us to consider how a discipline that attempts to arrive at fundamental truths can have so much difficulty finding agreement on issues of perennial concern: What am I essentially? What is truth? What is good? This course introduces students to fundamental debates in philosophy by revisiting the texts of great thinkers across history and cultures. The course begins by considering classical Greek thinkers...
Detailed Information PHIL10003
|Level 2 subjects|
|The Philosophy of Mind||12.5|
The Philosophy of Mind
Everyone agrees that human brain states are reliably correlated with our mental states – but are these mental states strictly identical to brain states or just causally produced by them? And just which aspects of our brains are correlated with states like beliefs, desires, emotions or sensations? In this subject, we examine the most influential philosophical answers to these questions. We start with Descartes' argument for dualism, which he claims provides indubitable grounds for thinking one's mind is not identical to any physical object. We then consider why scientifically minded philosophers resisted this picture and their attempts to say exactly which aspects of the physical world con...
Detailed Information PHIL20033
|The Nature of Reality||12.5|
The Nature of Reality
Our central question in this subject will be the extent to which our everyday experiences are determined by the nature of the world itself versus the extent to which they're determined by the structure of our own minds. Our approach to this question will be multi-faceted, drawing on philosophical texts, films and literary works, as well as our personal experiences. In topic 1, the nature of the world, we'll discuss Realism, Idealism, and Skepticism. Is the world really as it seems intuitively to be to us (Realism) or is it just a projection of our minds (Idealism). In topic 2, the nature of the self, we'll examine (i) what changes you can undergo and still remain yourself, (ii) the extent...
Detailed Information PHIL20039
|The Ethics of Capitalism||12.5|
The Ethics of Capitalism
Like most people in today's world, you live in a capitalist system: You participate in the labour market, you exercise economic freedoms like property and contract, and you respect other peoples freedoms. Capitalist systems have proven good at producing goods and services. But do they give us justice? More specifically, are you paid a fair wage for the work that you do? Should you even have to work when many jobs are lousy, and could soon be done by machines? Should you be allowed to inherit wealth, if others do not? What taxes should you pay, and what should the money be spent on? We will approach these questions (and many others) by asking why philosophers thought that market society mi...
Detailed Information PHIL20044
|Science, Reason and Reality||12.5|
Science, Reason and Reality
This subject addresses some of the central issues in the philosophy of science. It will raise questions such as: What is the difference between science and non-science? Is there a universal scientific method? Or do the methods employed by scientists vary historically? Is scientific theory change a rational process? Is science objective? Do scientific theories inform us of the truth about the world? Students who take this class will have knowledge of the major themes of recent and contemporary philosophical thinking about science. They will also have experience of the methods of critical analysis and argument employed in the philosophy of science and a background on which to base further s...
Detailed Information PHIL20001
This subject is divided into three parts, with a part devoted to each of the three main families of ethical theories. We start by looking at John Stuart Mill's utilitarianism, or the view that actions are "right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness" and go on to consider the views of contemporary heirs to this tradition. Some object that utilitarianism delivers counter-intuitive verdicts and can, if the calculations turn out right, support seemingly repugnant actions. This worry leads naturally to an investigation of Kantian ethics, which puts good will rather than good consequences at the heart of its analysis of right ac...
Detailed Information PHIL20008
|Meaning, Possibility and Paradox||12.5|
Meaning, Possibility and Paradox
Meaning is central to many issues in philosophy. The idea that the meaning of complex representation depends on the meanings of its parts is fundamental to the way we understand the mind, language, and logic. In this subject, we look at the different ways that this idea has been understood and applied throughout the 20th Century and into the present day. In the first part of the subject, our focus is on the concepts of necessity and possibility, and the way that 'possible worlds semantics' has been used in theories of meaning. We will focus on the logic of necessity and possibility (modal logic), times (temporal logic), conditionality and dependence (counterfactuals), and the notions of a...
Detailed Information PHIL20030
This subject examines the ideas of pre-Socratic philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. We focus specifically on the philosophical innovations of the Ancient Greeks, both in their contributions of radically new ideas and radically new methodologies. Specific questions to be discussed will include: What makes philosophy different from mythology? What is knowledge and how is it possible? What is the epistemological value of a definition? What is the nature of the soul and mind? What is virtue and what is its relation to happiness? What is the good life for a human being? These questions grew out of one another for the Greeks, and we will trace that development. We will also think abou...
Detailed Information PHIL20040
|Phenomenology and Existentialism||12.5|
Phenomenology and Existentialism
This subject is a study of classic texts and major themes in phenomenology and existentialism, a tradition that shaped continental European philosophy throughout much of the 20th century. This subject focuses on central figures in that tradition, such as Sartre, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty and Husserl. Themes to be discussed include the aims and methods of phenomenology, consciousness and perception, being-in-the world, our relation to others, authenticity, freedom and embodiment. On completion of the subject students should be able to engage in detailed exegesis of philosophical texts and to examine critically the philosophical arguments and views they contain.
Detailed Information PHIL20041
|Nietzsche and Critics||12.5|
Nietzsche and Critics
Nietzsche's bold and original challenges to traditional morality and the primacy of reason have made him one of the best known and most influential of modern thinkers. This course provides a broad introduction to Nietzsche as a philosopher by addressing his views on a range of themes such as tragedy, history, morality, knowledge, the eternal recurrence and the will to power. We also consider some of Nietzsche's more prominent critics and the wide range of interpretations to which his rich but controversial work have given rise.
Detailed Information PHIL20038
|History of Early Modern Philosophy||12.5|
History of Early Modern Philosophy
This course will cover the major authors in the rationalist and empiricist traditions of the early modern period in Europe: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and Kant. The course will provide students with a solid grounding in the canonical texts of modern philosophy and introduce them to the issues raised by studying philosophy in its historical context. Beyond devoting attention to their arguments, the course will consider the self-understanding of these foundational figures in their efforts to accommodate the Scientific Revolution and to articulate a philosophical alternative to the religious concept of 'truth' that had dominated European thought throughout the mediev...
Detailed Information PHIL20043
|Freedom and Equality Across Borders||12.5|
Freedom and Equality Across Borders
Comedian Doug Stanhope once commented that "Nationalism does nothing but teach you how to hate people that you never met, and ... take pride in accomplishments you had no part in whatsoever". In this subject we'll examine the philosophical issues underpinning the ethics and politics of nationalism and cosmopolitanism, and their impact on individuals' freedom of movement and association across borders. We'll look at the case for a state's right to control its borders and immigration policy, including the value of preserving a national culture, language, and way of life, and citizens' rights to associate (or refuse to associate) with whoever they choose.
Detailed Information PHIL20045
|Level 3 subjects|
|Knowledge and Reality||12.5|
Knowledge and Reality
This subject deals with central questions of epistemology and some aspects of the relation between epistemology and metaphysics. The primary focus will be epistemological questions about the nature of knowledge and justified belief. In addition, we will explore questions of a metaphysical nature that have a bearing on epistemological concerns, such as the nature of truth and reality, and the relationship between knowledge, truth and reality. We will also consider meta-epistemological questions about the nature of epistemological inquiry, including recent work in experimental philosophy on the role of intuition in epistemology, as well as naturalistic challenges to conceptual analysis.
Detailed Information PHIL30016
|The Foundations of Interpretation||12.5|
The Foundations of Interpretation
We naturally try to make sense of what other people write, say, and think. But what are the principles governing this activity of interpretation? Is the correct interpretation of an article from the New York Times, of a fictional text like Madame Bovary, or of Shakespeare's sonnets determined by their respective author's intentions? Does the reader play an active role in constituting the meaning of these texts? Can conflicting interpretations of the same text be equally valid? Can interpretation ever be gender neutral or free of power dynamics? We'll explore answers to these questions proposed by influential theories of meaning and interpretation developed for the most part in 20th centur...
Detailed Information PHIL30024
|The Power and Limits of Logic||12.5|
The Power and Limits of Logic
This subject deals with the power and limits of logic. We will cover some of the great conceptual advances in logic in the 20th Century, which have revolutionised our understanding of logic and language, of models and meaning, and of concepts and computation. We will examine the conceptual foundations of logic and the way it can be applied, not only to develop theories in other domains, but how we can learn the limits of logic when we attempt to apply its power to logic itself. In the course we will examine fundamental results such as (1) the soundness and completeness of different proof systems of first-order predicate logic, (2) the boundary between the countably infinite and the uncoun...
Detailed Information PHIL30043
|Objectivity and Value||12.5|
Objectivity and Value
This subject explores the nature of value in human life. The kinds of value explored may include all or some of moral and ethical value, aesthetic value, religious value, political value, and epistemic value. Are such values capable of being objectively true or real, or are they essentially 'subjective', having no ground or warrant outside the individual, or perhaps the society or culture, who affirms them? And just how helpful, anyway, is the objective/subjective contrast for thinking about the nature of value?
Detailed Information PHIL30047
|Race and Gender: Philosophical Issues||12.5|
Race and Gender: Philosophical Issues
This subject surveys recent developments in our philosophical understanding and critiques of the social categories of race and gender. The subject will first explore issues in metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of language that arise for biological vs social constructivist accounts of race and gender. Special attention will be paid to the similarities and differences between race and gender and the ways in which they interact. If race and gender are biological categories, they may involve erroneous assumptions. If they are socially constructed categories, it follows that our current categories can be reshaped. This raises a number of moral and political questions regarding the best...
Detailed Information PHIL30052
|Philosophy of Language||12.5|
Philosophy of Language
Philosophers have been interested in language for two key reasons. On the one hand, language helps to focus our thoughts on particular features of the world (like Donald J. Trump or collusion). On the other hand, language plays an essential role in coordinating with others (like pointing things out or telling tall tales) and building complex shared social institutions (marriage, democracy). This subject examines these two key roles of language and how they interact.
Detailed Information PHIL30053
|The Metaphysics of Ethics||12.5|
The Metaphysics of Ethics
Our central question in this subject will be the extent to which our ethical views and theories are related to, or underpinned by, our metaphysical views and theories. In Topic 1, Objects, Events, Persistence & The Ethical Views Influenced by Them, we'll discuss what metaphysics tells us about the nature of objects, events, and persistence over time, and how this impacts various ethical theories we might endorse. In Topic 2, Mereology & Its Influence on Ethics, we'll discuss metaphysical theories of mereology (ie. part/whole relations) such as how is a corporation (whole) related to its employees (parts), how is a university (whole) related to the students, instructors, buildings, etc. (p...
Detailed Information PHIL30054
|Level 3 Capstone subject|
|The Philosophy of Philosophy||12.5|
The Philosophy of Philosophy
This subject examines the nature of philosophy itself. Students will read what many great philosophers have said about the methods, aims, and ambitions of philosophy. And they will examine how these views are grounded in, or intertwined with committments about metaphysics, epistemology, or ethics. The subject provides the opportunity to reflect on different strands in the philosophical tradition, which inspire conflicting projects in contemporary philosophy. It should also encourage students to reflect on the nature and methods of the philosophy they have studied to date. The subject is intended for students nearing completion of a philosophy major, but may also be taken by others.
Detailed Information PHIL30007
|God and the Natural Sciences||12.5|
God and the Natural Sciences
Recent popular debates over the relationship between science and religion have too often denigrated into shouted polemics between religious fundamentalists and new atheists. Yet many of the really important historical, philosophical and theological questions call for more careful scholarly attention. This subject examines the complex relationship between religion and the natural sciences.
Detailed Information HPSC20020
|Ethical Traditions in Islam||12.5|
Ethical Traditions in Islam
This subject introduces students to the rich heritage of ethical traditions in Islamic thought. Students will study and critically evaluate the key features and contributions of Muslim theologians, philosophers and Sufis, who attempted to deal with revelation and rationalistic discourse in exploring the meaning of ethical life for Muslims and discussing whether philosophy and religious wisdoms were equals and allies in the pursuit of happiness. The origin and development of these traditions will be introduced with an emphasis on the relevance and application of some ethical issues, such as free will, predestination, human responsibility, and bioethics, to contemporary Muslim societies.
Detailed Information ISLM30003