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Courses

Contents:

First Year Courses:
PHI1010S: ETHICS
PHI1024F: INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY
PHI1025F: CRITICAL THINKING

Second Year Courses:
PHI2012F: PHILOSOPHY OF PSYCHOLOGY AND MIND
PHI2016S: PHILOSOPHY OF ART AND LITERATURE
PHI2037F: APPLIED ETHICS
PHI2040S: PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE
PHI2041S: GREAT PHILOSOPHERS
PHI2042F: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
PHI2043F/S: BUSINESS ETHICS
PHI2044F: PHILOSOPHY OF MATHEMATICS
PHI2045S: PHILOSOPHY OF RACE

Third Year Courses:
PHI3023F: LOGIC AND LANGUAGE
PHI3024S: METAPHYSICS AND EPISTEMOLOGY

PHI1010S: ETHICS

NQF credits: 18
(NOTE: This course may be offered in Summer Term - please consult the Department.)
First-year, second-semester course, 3 lectures and 1 tutorial per week.
Convenor: Dr T Angier.
Entrance requirements: None.
Course outline: This course introduces students to moral philosophy and to the questions it asks. These may include: What makes an action right? Is morality relative (to one's own views or to one's culture) or is it objective? What is the relationship between religion and ethics? What is it to be a good person?
Lecture times: 5th period.
DP requirements: Regular attendance at lectures and tutorials; completion of all tests, submission of all essays and assignments by due dates, and an average mark of at least 35% for the coursework.
Assessment: Coursework counts 40%; one 3-hour examination in October / November counts 60%.


PHI1024F: INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY

NQF credits: 18
(NOTE: This course may be offered in Summer Term - please consult the Department.)
First-year, first-semester course, 3 lectures and 1 tutorial per week.
Convenor: Dr D Chapman.
Entrance requirements: None.
Course outline: This course is an introduction to philosophy that aims to make students more conscious, creative and critical in thinking about their own fundamental beliefs and values. Fundamental issues investigated include: the nature and possibility of knowledge, self-knowledge, the relationship between the mind and the body, the knowledge of other minds, whether we have free will, and whether life has a meaning. These issues are explored with the help of classical and contemporary philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Hegel, Marx, Sartre and others.
Lecture times: 5th period.
DP requirements: As for PHI1010S.
Assessment: Coursework counts 40%; one 3-hour examination in June counts 60%.


PHI1025F: CRITICAL THINKING

NQF credits: 18
First-year, first-semester course, 3 lectures and 1 tutorial per week.
Convenor: Dr Elisa Galgut.
Entrance requirements: None.
Course outline: Why do we value our beliefs? We value them because we take them to be true and, as true, they are good guides. But how can we tell when a belief is true? Our only handle here is whether or not the belief is justified. So we aim to have beliefs that are justified. The course concentrates on the practical business of appraising justifications. Of course, we all routinely attempt to justify our beliefs and arrive at new beliefs on the basis of supposed justifications. But almost as routinely we are hoodwinked. The course aims to make you a better believer by making you more aware of the nature of justification, of the different sorts of justification and the pitfalls of each. At the end of it you will be less gullible and more able to explain just why a particular argument does or doesn't convince you.
Lecture times: 3rd period.
DP requirements: Regular attendance at lectures and tutorials, completion of all tests and submission of all essays and assignments by due date.
Assessment: Coursework counts 50%; one 2-hour examination in June counts 50%.
 


PHI2012F: PHILOSOPHY OF PSYCHOLOGY AND MIND

NQF credits: 24
(NOTE: This course may be offered in Summer Term - please consult the Department.)
Second-year, first-semester course, 3 lectures and 1 tutorial per week.
Convenors: Dr E Galgut and Dr J Ritchie.
Entrance requirements: At least second year status.
Course outline: The question of the nature of the mind and its relation to the body (e.g. the brain) is discussed at length, with attention given to dualism, behaviourism, physicalism and functionalism. Other topics which may be dealt with are the nature of action, free will and determinism and the problem of personal identity.
Lecture times: 7th period.
DP requirements: As for PHI1010S.
Assessment: Coursework counts 40%; one 3-hour examination in June counts 60%.


PHI2016S: PHILOSOPHY OF ART AND LITERATURE

NQF credits: 24
Second-year, second-semester course, 3 lectures and 1 tutorial per week.
Convenor: Dr E Galgut.
Entrance requirements: At least second year status.
Course outline: This course will consider a variety of issues in contemporary philosophy of art and literature - a subject area also sometimes referred to as aesthetics. Among the issues that will be discussed are: the ontology of art (comparing literature, music, painting, etc); interpreting literary and other art works; the nature of metaphor; the relationship between art and morality; truth and sincerity as criteria of literary and artistic value; the definition (or general nature) of art and literature.
Lecture times: 2nd period.
DP requirements: As for PHI1010S.
Assessment: Coursework counts 40%; one 3-hour examination in October / November counts 60%.


PHI2037F: APPLIED ETHICS

NQF credits: 24
Second-year, first-semester course, 3 lectures and 1 tutorial per week.
Convenor: Professor D Benatar.
Entrance requirements: At least second year status.
Course outline: The course involves the application of philosophical reasoning to real life practical and moral issues. It will be shown how rational argument can be brought to bear on the resolution of ethical dilemmas and difficult questions about what we ought to do. These may include issues concerning health care, business, the professions, the environment, or everyday life.
Lecture times: 3rd period.
DP requirements: As for PHI1010S.
Assessment: Coursework counts 40%; one 3-hour examination in June counts 60%.


PHI2040S: PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE

NQF credits: 24
Second-year, second-semester course, 3 lectures and 1 tutorial per week.
Convenor: Dr J Ritchie.
Entrance requirements: At least second year status.
Course outline: The course aims to introduce the students to the epistemological, metaphysical and ethical issues that arise when science is considered from a philosophical perspective. Through the study of philosophers such as Popper, Kuhn and Feyerabend, among others, the following sorts of questions will be discussed: Do scientists employ a special method which sets them apart from non-scientists and gives their claims greater authority? Do electrons, genes and other entities that we can’t see or touch really exist? Are scientists inevitably influenced by political and moral agendas or can pure science be value free?
Lecture times: 3rd period.
DP requirements: Regular attendance at lectures and tutorials, completion of all tests and submission of all essays and assignments by due dates.
Assessment: Coursework counts 40%; one 3-hour examination in October / November counts 60%.


PHI2041S: GREAT PHILOSOPHERS

NQF credits: 24
Second-year, second-semester course, 3 lectures and 1 tutorial per week.
Convenor: Dr G Fried.
Entrance requirements: PHI1024F and at least second year status.
Course outline: This course will introduce you to a selection of philosophy’s major figures. The figures chosen may vary from year to year but they will be selected on the basis of their originality, profundity, influence and on the degree to which their works speak to one another. Philosophy often proceeds through an engagement with its past and engaging with one’s philosophical inheritance is one of the most rewarding aspects of studying philosophy. This course will ask you to try to understand a set of historical thinkers and writers not as contemporaries who can be presumed to share our philosophical concerns nor yet as merely historical figures; rather we shall try to appreciate the thinker’s writings in the context of his own concerns, which may differ significantly from ours. We shall discover that, when properly understood in this way, these thinkers still have relevance.
Lecture times: 4th period.
DP requirements: As for PHI1010S.
Assessment: Coursework counts 40%; one 3-hour examination in October / November counts 60%.


PHI2042F: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

NQF credits: 24
Second-year, first-semester course, 3 lectures and 1 tutorial per week.
Convenor: Dr T Angier.
Entrance requirements: At least second year status.
Course outline: What should our government do for us? Do the rich owe anything to the poor? Should society accept all cultures, or are there limits to tolerance? Is democracy really a good system? What is a just war, and can terrorism be justified? These are some of the questions asked in political philosophy. This course approaches the field in two ways. We choose several great political philosophers from ancient times to the twentieth century, and discuss their aims and arguments. Then we select some areas from contemporary political philosophy, and assess solutions to perpetual or recent problems in these areas.
Lecture times: 2nd period.
DP requirements: As for PHI1010S.
Assessment: Coursework counts 40%; one 3-hour examination in June counts 60%.


PHI2043F/S: BUSINESS ETHICS

NQF credits: 18
Second-year, first or second-semester course, 3 lectures and 1 tutorial per week.
Co-Convenors: Assoc Professor J Winfield, Dr T Angier and Dr G Hull.
Entrance requirements: At least second year status.
Course outline: Ethical choices are unavoidable in business. This course aims to help you to articulate your options when confronted with an ethical dilemma in business, and to make well-informed judgements about the right thing to do. We will consider a range of problems, from issues that could arise in your first job to questions of business regulation that you may one day face as a leader in commerce or government. In each case, the course will challenge and assist you to recognise ethical problems in practical situations, understand the possible solutions, and make reasoned decisions.
Lecture times: 3rd or 4th period.
DP requirements: As for PHI1010S.
Assessment: Coursework counts 40%; one 3-hour examination in either June or October / November counts 60%.


PHI2044F: PHILOSOPHY OF MATHEMATICS (not offered in 2017)

NQF credits: 24
Second-year, first-semester course, 3 lectures and 1 tutorial per week.
Convenor: Dr G Fried.
Entrance requirements: Second year status and at least 50% for Matric Mathematics, or a pass for a MAM course, or a Lower Intermediate score for the NBT in Quantitative Literacy.
Course outline: Mathematics - the paradigm of a successful intellectual practice, with highly secure results and many important applications - raises deep philosophical questions. For instance, if mathematical objects (like numbers) are not in time or space, then how can we know anything about these objects, and how can mathematics be of any use in understanding the physical world? Some other questions: Does mathematics have a foundation? What is a good mathematical explanation? In what ways does the discipline of mathematics develop? This course discusses and evaluates major contributions, both historical and current, to the philosophy of mathematics. The intended audience includes students who enjoy more abstract areas of philosophy in general as well as those interested in the significance of mathematics in particular.
Lecture times: 1st period.
Assessment: 40% coursework (10% for first essay, 20% for second essay, 10% for weekly quizzes), 60% exam. A DP requires timely completion of all coursework and attendance at 80% of lectures and tutorials.


PHI2045S: PHILOSOPHY OF RACE

NQF credits: 24
Second-year, second-semester course, 3 lectures and 1 tutorial per week.
Convenor: Dr G Hull.
Entrance requirements: At least second year status.
Course outline: Many of the topics of public debate in contemporary South Africa raise intriguing philosophical questions: Morally speaking, does most of the Western Cape actually belong to the Khoisan? Does being indigenous (if that concept makes sense) give you certain moral rights? Has the achievement of legal equality liberated black people, or would true liberation require the rediscovery of a distinctive identity? What special responsibilities (if any) do formerly advantaged groups have today? This course brings the tools of philosophical argument and analysis to bear on such problems, making use of, e.g., contemporary theories of moral ownership rights and the phenomenon of “epistemic injustice”. In addition, it traces the intellectual ancestry of ideas such as those of Black Consciousness, critically examining the attempts of theorists such as Hegel, Fanon, Césaire and Biko to theorise about oppression, identity, empowerment and the predicament of colonised peoples.
Lecture times: 5th period.
DP requirements: As for PHI1010S.
Assessment: Coursework counts 40%; one 3-hour examination in October / November counts 60%.


PHI3023F: LOGIC AND LANGUAGE

NQF credits: 24
Third-year, first-semester course, 3 lectures and 1 tutorial per week.
Convenor: Prof Bernhard Weiss.
Entrance requirements: PHI2041S and any one of the other second year PHI courses that count toward the major.
Course outline: The philosophical investigation of linguistic meaning came to occupy a pivotal role in philosophy a little over a hundred years ago. The investigation became pivotal because the notion seems deeply perplexing.—.what sort of relation does a linguistic sign bear to what it represents? how do we form the ability to understand a potential infinity of sentences?.—.and because, more controversially, it came to seem that we could pursue many other questions in philosophy by looking at how language works. The philosophical focus on language was facilitated by developments in logical theory. The course begins by equipping you with the technical basis in logic and then builds on this to explore the workings of language.
Lecture times: 7th period.
DP requirements: As for PHI1010S.
Assessment: Coursework counts 40%; one 3-hour examination in June counts 60%.


PHI3024S: METAPHYSICS AND EPISTEMOLOGY

NQF credits: 24
Third-year, second-semester course, 3 lectures and 1 tutorial per week.
Convenor: Dr J Ritchie.
Entrance requirements: PHI2041S, and any one of the other second year PHI courses that count toward the major, and PHI3023F.
Course outline: On one widespread conception, metaphysics is a first-order inquiry into “what there is”, whilst epistemology is second-order inquiry reflecting on “what it takes to know what there is.” But the pursuit of epistemology raises metaphysical questions too: what do our ways of knowing tell us about human nature, and the nature of the world? This course explores some core contemporary issues in both areas of inquiry, and considers the relationship between them. Topics in metaphysics may include contemporary investigations into the nature of the mind, its relations to the body and the external world, as well as the nature of causation, space and time. The course may also include some reflection on how, if at all, metaphysical knowledge is possible. Topics in epistemology may include exploring contemporary debates regarding the conception of knowledge, the structure and nature of epistemic justification, the relationship between reasons and beliefs and the value (if any) of skepticism.
Lecture times: 7th period.
DP requirements: As for PHI1010S.
Assessment: Coursework counts 40%; one 3-hour examination in October / November counts 60%.