Philosophy: The Big Questions

Subject PHIL10002 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 1 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 1, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 29-Feb-2016 to 29-May-2016
Assessment Period End 24-Jun-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 11-Mar-2016
Census Date 31-Mar-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 06-May-2016

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 35 hours - 2 x 1 hour lectures each week and 1x 1 hour tutorial in weeks 2-12
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours

Prerequisites: None
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Dr Ruth Boeker



Subject Overview:

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 world or might we be subject to a massive illusion created by an evil demon? How is it possible for scientific knowledge of laws of nature to be based on limited observation of empirical facts? (3) Personal identity. What makes you the same person as you were ten years ago? Can you survive the loss of parts of your body? Can you survive with half of your brain? Is it important that I empathize with my past and future selves? What is death? Is death bad? How do Buddhist philosophers argue for the claim that there is no self?

Learning Outcomes:

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • REFLECT critically upon big philosophical questions;
  • IDENTIFY and define key philosophical concepts;
  • READ philosophical texts with particular focus on the philosophical arguments that are presented in these texts;
  • WRITE well-structured and well-argued short essays that accurately explain and critically assess philosophical views;
  • ARTICULATE their own responses to philosophical views, support them by reasons and defend them in light of criticism;
  • Critically EVALUATE philosophical views by considering the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments for and against the views.
  • An 800 word essay, due during the semester (20%)
  • One 1,200 word essay, due during the semester (30%)
  • A take-home examination, equivalent to 2000 words, due during the end of semester examination period (50%)

Hurdle requirement:

  • Students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject.
  • All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Note: Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. After five days late assessment will not be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked.

Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available on line or in hard-copy at the Coop 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
Links to further information:
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Graduate Certificate in Arts - Philosophy
Graduate Diploma in Arts - Philosophy
Philosophy Major

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