PHI101: Introduction to Philosophy
|Bachelor of Arts in the Liberal Arts
Diploma of Liberal Arts
|Indicative contact hours
|3 hours per week
This unit is designed to prepare students for an engagement with clear critical thinking and discourse by introducing them to some important areas of philosophy. We begin by discussing the nature and task of philosophy as a whole before concentrating on three areas, the study of each of which is important as a preliminary to the study of philosophy’s subdisciplines that will be the focus of later courses. The first main section focuses on epistemology, which deals with various questions about the nature of human knowledge. These include: questions about definition (i.e. the question of what we mean when we attribute knowledge to people); questions of how to respond to various ancient and modern sceptical challenges to our claims to knowledge; contemporary debates about such issues as fallibilism vs. infallibilism and internalism vs. externalism; and issues concerning the complex relations between reason, tradition and faith. Our discussion of these questions leads naturally into the second main section: an examination of various competing theories of the nature of truth and objectivity. The third and final main section of the course introduces students to the study of logic, familiarising them with conceptual tools indispensable for the critical analysis of arguments. Throughout the course, the aim is to develop the students’ understanding of these ideas as not being remote and merely technical, but as being implicit in questions and issues at the heart of human self-understanding.
On completion of this unit of study, students will be able to:
- understand the distinctive nature of philosophy as a discipline, and its various branches (e.g. epistemology, logic and metaphysics).
- understand the nature of the debates, central to our philosophical culture, between the major schools of thought on the nature of: knowledge (e.g. empiricism vs. rationalism about the sources of knowledge, scepticism about the very possibility of knowledge) and truth (e.g. correspondence theories, coherence theories, and pragmatist theories).
- understand concepts (e.g. validity, soundness, truth-tables, inference rules) from formal logic (mainly propositional logic with some predicate logic), and their role in proof and the practice of critical argument.
- apply knowledge of standard philosophical concepts and theories, in the course of engaging in research on, critical reading of, reflection on, and analysis of presented texts.
- produce formal proofs and construct truth tables in propositional logic, and to identify valid and invalid arguments in both propositional and predicate logic.
- define technical philosophical concepts and formal logic concepts, and to apply them in the analysis of philosophical argumentation.
- exercise and develop further the ability to summarise information and communicate in a persuasive, logical and coherent manner.
- competently exhibit in written work clarity of expression, logical essay structure and appropriate use of referencing and bibliography according to the conventions of academic writing.
- exercise and develop the ability to apply knowledge of standard philosophical concepts and theories in verbal discussion.
- exercise and develop the ability to apply knowledge of formal logic concepts and techniques to solve textbook/whiteboard problems.
Interested in other Philosophy units?
PHI101: Introduction to Philosophy
PHI202: Moral Philosophy
PHI204: Political Philosophy
PHI301: Modern Philosophy
PHI302: Social and Political Philosophy
PHI303: Philosophy of Language
PHI304: Twentieth Century Analytic Philosophy
PHI305: Intensive Study of a Text in Classical Philosophy
PHI306: Intensive Study of a Text in Modern Philosophy