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 must complete:
- One Level 1 subject
- One Arts Foundation subject (MULT10016 recommended)
- Three Level 2 Elective subjects
- Two Level 3 Elective subjects
- One Level 3 Capstone subject
Students completing a Minor in Philosophy must complete:
- One Level 1 subject
- One Arts Foundation subject (MULT10016 recommended)
- Two Level 2 Elective subjects
- Two Level 3 Elective 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 Subjects|
|Philosophy: The Big Questions||12.5|
Philosophy: The Big Questions
This subject provides a general introduction to philosophy through an examination of big questions in three areas of philosophy: (1) Ethics. Does the moral rightness of an action depend solely on its consequences? Or are there some actions, like torture, which are morally wrong no matter how desirable the consequences? What is the moral status of animals? What is the responsibility of members of developed countries for global poverty? Is it morally permissible to spend money on non-essentials while children die of preventable poverty-related causes? (2) Knowledge and scepticism. What is knowledge and do we actually know what we take ourselves to know? Do we know that there is an external ...
Detailed Information PHIL10002
|Philosophy: The Great Thinkers||12.5|
Philosophy: The Great Thinkers
"This subject introduces some of the central themes of pre 20th-century Western philosophy. Topics to be covered include some or all of the following: Plato on moral ideas and knowledge; Machiavelli and Hobbes on the nature of the State, the rights of individuals, and maintaining political power; Descartes on knowledge, the self, God, freedom, and the relation between mind and body; critical responses to Descartes’s theory of the mind by Princess Elisabeth, Locke and Leibniz."
Detailed Information PHIL10003
|Level 2 Subjects|
|The Philosophy of Mind||12.5|
The Philosophy of Mind
This subject will cover central issues in the philosophy of mind, such as the relationship between minds and brains (e.g., dualism, behaviourism, physicalism, functionalism and eliminativism), the nature of mental states such as beliefs, desires and sensations, how mental states represent features of the world, and the relationship between the first-person perspective on oneself and the third-person scientific perspective on the mind.
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
Capitalism is now the dominant way of organizing economic production and other aspects of social life in most countries. But there are many who feel that capitalism is morally troubling, or even evil. This subject aims to develop a moral evaluation of capitalism in its various forms, and to address specific moral concerns about it. Possible questions include: In what way is capitalism related to such things as exploitation, overconsumption, and excessive competition? Are these inevitable problems or can they be addressed through regulation? What sort of limits should be placed on individual property rights, the activities of corporations, and flows of inherited wealth? Should some service...
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 critically studies the three classical approaches to moral philosophy: Aristotle 'virtue ethics, Immanuel Kant' deontology, and John Stuart Mill's Utilitarianism. As well as examining works by these great thinkers, we look at debates among the contemporary heirs to the traditions they started.
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 subject offers an introduction to philosophical debates in early modern philosophy from Descartes to Kant. Questions that were controversially debated during the period inlcude the following: How can we acquire knowledge that is absolutely certain? How can I know that an external world exists outside my own mind? Is my mind an immaterial substance that is distinct from material bodies? What is the relation between mind and body? Can I know that my experiences inhere in an immaterial rather than a material substance? What is a substance? What are the limitations of human understanding? What is a self or person? How do persons continue to exist over time? What role do questions of mora...
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
This subject explores the theories of meaning and interpretation developed in contemporary European thought. We will examine questions such as: Is the meaning of a text determined by the author's intentions? Does what we write or say have a single determinate meaning or can conflicting interpretations be equally valid? Is there a robust distinction between fiction and non-fiction? Can philosophy of art help clarify how a text should be interpreted? Major thinkers discussed will include Heidegger, Gadamer, Habermas, Sassure, Barthes, Derrida and Butler. We will also consider whether radical interpretation – the interpretation of language as a totally foreign culture – is possible, and if s...
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
|Justice, Freedom and Equality||12.5|
Justice, Freedom and Equality
This subject investigates central topics in political philosophy. These can be divided into two areas of focus - political legitimacy and distributive justice. The study of legitimacy aims to establish the moral authority of the coercive state. This involves finding ways to answer the anarchist contention that no state can be justified, by developing a moral foundation for the state's authority. The study of distributive justice aims to answer questions about how the state should actually use its coercive powers to regulate the way in which its citizens interact. The focus here is on interpreting various (often competing) political values, such as equality, individual freedom and communit...
Detailed Information PHIL30051
|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
Language allows us to communicate with others, and it helps to scaffold our own thoughts. This subject provides an overview of some central debates in the philosophy of language about the role of language in thought and in social coordination. We'll consider key philosophical questions about language such as: How is linguistic communication possible? How do symbols acquire their meanings? How can social and physical context affect what someone's words mean? And what's the nature of metaphorical meaning? Major authors to be discussed include: Locke, Frege, Russell, Wittgenstein, Strawson, Austin, Grice, Searle, Kripke, Kaplan, Lewis, Davidson, and Chomsky.
Detailed Information PHIL30053
|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 denegrated 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. Historically, religious concerns guided the science of Kepler, Newton and many other pioneers of the Scientific Revolution. For them, studying the universe demonstrated the attributes of God. This view was eventually replaced by radically different ones: to some science and religion are necessarily antag...
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