PHIL10002 Philosophy: The Big Questions

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 1 (Undergraduate)
Commencement Date & Location:
2014, Parkville
This subject commences in the following study period/s:
Semester 1 - Taught on campus.


Timetable can be viewed by searching for this subject at http://sws.unimelb.edu.au or by viewing the timetable here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 2x 1-hour lectures each week and 1x 1-hour tutorial in weeks 2-12
Total Time Commitment:

an average of 8.5 hours each week.





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:


Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request 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: http://www.services.unimelb.edu.au/disability/


Dr Karen Jones


Dr Karen Jones


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?

Learning Outcomes:

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.

Tutorial assignment of 600 words, 15% (due either week 4, week 9 or week 11) an essay of 1400 words, 35% (due mid semester) and a 2,000 word take home exam, 50% (due during the end of semester examination period).

This subject has a minimum hurdle requirement of 75% tutorial attendance. Regular participation in tutorials is required. Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day, after 5 working days late assessment will not be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked. All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

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
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: http://www.philosophy.unimelb.edu.au/
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: Philosophy
Philosophy Major

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