Philosophy: The Big Questions

Subject PHIL10002 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 1 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 2 one hour lectures per week for the entire semester and 1 one hour tutorial per week beginning in week 2.
Total Time Commitment: an average of 8.5 hours each semester
Prerequisites: None.
Corequisites: None.
Recommended Background Knowledge: No specific background knowledge is required for this subject.
Non Allowed Subjects: This subject was previously taught as Philosophical Issues (161-108), Students who have completed Philosophical Issues are not eligible to enrol in this subject.
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering requests for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website :


Dr Francois Schroeter, Dr Karen Jones


Dr Karen Jones

Dr Fran├žois Schroeter
Subject Overview:

This subject provides a general introduction to philosophy through an examination of four big questions: (1) Knowledge and scepticism. What is knowledge and do we actually know what we take ourselves to know? Can we rule out the hypothesis that we occupy some kind of Matrix world in which all our apparent perceptions are the result of brain manipulation? And if we cannot, can we know anything at all? (2) Personal identity. What kind of a thing is a person? What makes you the same person now as you were when you were a baby despite all the enormous physical and psychological changes that have happened to you? What sorts of changes can you undergo and still survive? (3) Morality. Does the 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? (4) Personal responsibility in a non-ideal world. 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?


Students who successfully complete this subject will

  • have a familiarity with a variety of important philosophical problems and the theoretical tools used to address them
  • be able to present accurate and well-expressed exposition of philosophical problems and positions.
  • be able to present informed and fair-minded philosophical evaluation of them.
Assessment: Tutorial assignments 15%, an essay of 1400 words due mid semester 35%, and a 2-hour written examination (not open-book) 50% at the end of semester.
Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available from the University Bookshop at the beginning of semester.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • develop the ability to read texts analytically.
  • develop skills in critical and theoretical thinking.
  • be able to apply the analytic and critical skills developed in this subject to other philosophical and non-philosophical studies.
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Philosophy
Philosophy Major
Philosophy and Social Theory

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