PHILO204-19A (HAM)

Wisdom, Language, and Communication

15 Points

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Division of Arts Law Psychology & Social Sciences
School of Social Sciences
Philosophy

Staff

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Convenor(s)

Lecturer(s)

Administrator(s)

: paula.maynard@waikato.ac.nz

Placement Coordinator(s)

Tutor(s)

Student Representative(s)

Lab Technician(s)

Librarian(s)

: anne.ferrier-watson@waikato.ac.nz

You can contact staff by:

  • Calling +64 7 838 4466 select option 1, then enter the extension.
  • Extensions starting with 4, 5, 9 or 3 can also be direct dialled:
    • For extensions starting with 4: dial +64 7 838 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 5: dial +64 7 858 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 9: dial +64 7 837 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 3: dial +64 7 2620 + the last 3 digits of the extension e.g. 3123 = +64 7 262 0123.
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Paper Description

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What is wisdom? If it's a matter living a reflective life, then it's at least partly an epistemic notion grounded in language. A wave of recent research has brought together the commitments of epistemology and metaphysics, on one hand, and ethics, on the other hand, and the literature is organised around the following implicit argument:

  1. To be wise is to exercise understanding.
  2. Understanding is a species of knowledge.
  3. Knowledge depends upon the skillful use of language.
  4. Therefore, to be wise is to use language skillfully.

While this paper will begin with an exploration of the topics of wisdom and understanding in connection with knowledge and language at the abstract or theoretical level, our attention will soon thereafter turn to performativity (illocutionary acts), particularly with reference to free speech and political discourse. What we will come to discover is that one's skillful use of language may be employed as a means to achieve honourable or nefarious ends.

The paper will be divided into two parts. Part one will be composed of three sections on theories in the philosophy of language and epistemology: (i) wisdom as understanding, (ii) understanding as knowledge, and (iii) knowledge, language and performativity, and part two will be composed of four sections of how to apply the theories to practical concerns arising in society and politics: (v) Pejoratives, Slurs, Epithets and Attitudes, (vi) LGBTQIA Discourse and Wisdom, (vii) free speech and illocutionary acts, and (viii) political discourse and wisdom. No knowledge of the practice or history of philosophy is presupposed; curiosity is.

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Paper Structure

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Wisdom, Language and Communication adopts a blended learning environment, such that content will be delivered online and in-person. The burden of the work is shared equally between the student and the lecturer. The paper's convenor will employ the Moodle Online platform to alert the student of work that is coming due.
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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • Think analytically about philosophical issues concerning the nature of language and communication.
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  • Analyse, evaluate and construct philosophical arguments, both in oral discussion and in written work.
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  • Understand some of the most influential positions taken on these issues in contemporary philosophy.
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  • Understand the significance of some important episodes in the history of philosophy.
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  • Understand how philosophic issues in language and communication are important for some current public debates.
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Assessment

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This paper is wholly internally assessed. Each piece of assessment has been designed to enable students to demonstrate their grasp of essential concepts and techniques at progressive stages of the paper and for teaching staff to assess the progress they are making and to adjust lecture plans if necessary.
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Assessment Components

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The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.

The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.

Component DescriptionDue Date TimePercentage of overall markSubmission MethodCompulsory
1. Short Essay #1
12 Apr 2019
5:00 PM
20
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Essay #2 Plan
3 May 2019
11:30 PM
15
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. Essay #2
31 May 2019
11:30 PM
30
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Argument Outlines
25
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
5. Participation
10
Assessment Total:     100    
Failing to complete a compulsory assessment component of a paper will result in an IC grade
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Required and Recommended Readings

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Required Readings

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The schedule above provides a list of the required readings for the semester. Students should familiarise themselves with each reading prior to attending the first lecture of the week in which the reading is listed. For example, during Week #2 of the course, students are obliged to read Sharon Ryan's 'What is Wisdom?' Please attend the first session of the week prepared to answer enquiries about Ryan's essay and come to class ready to participate.

Recommendations regarding how to approach reading in a philosophy paper is available here.

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Recommended Readings

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Given that the primary objective of this paper is to familiarise students with the classic arguments and debates occurring in the philosophy of language, it will rely heavily upon primary source material. Occasionally, I will recommend some secondary source material for students to review and use Moodle as a vehicle for these recommendations. Students enrolled in PHILO 204 are not required to read or review the recommendations, but I highly encourage them to read the material if they're interested in the debates we're reviewing in class.
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Other Resources

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Online Support

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Should the student have difficulty accessing sources via Moodle, please feel free to email me. However, if the matter is not related to the paper (i.e., a technical problem with Moodle), then I recommend the student to contact the University's IT Help Desk at 07 838 4008.
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Workload

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150 hours.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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Philosophy is the very crucible from which all other disciplines evolved, so this paper links with every other paper in the offing at university.
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Prerequisite(s)

Corequisite(s)

Equivalent(s)

Restriction(s)

Restricted papers: PHIL204

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