PHILO204-22B (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)

: monique.mulder@waikato.ac.nz

Placement/WIL 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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Despite the cliché: "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me," expressions have the capacity to harm. This paper introduces students to the political, social, and moral dimensions of what people say and the extent to which people harm others through what they say or what may be implied by what they say. Through the discussion and critical analysis of academic papers and nonacademic material, we explore how speech is connected with moral wrongness, harm, liberty, resistance, and social justice. We consider some contemporary topics in social epistemology and philosophy of language such as lying, bullshitting, dogwhistling, grandstanding, misleading, and silencing.

Here are some questions we will consider:

  • How do we discriminate against others through what we say?
  • How do we use language to demean, derogate, offend, and hurt other people based on their gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity?
  • What is the meaning of expressions that are conventionally used to offend others because of their gender, sexual orientation, or ethnic identification?
  • Does the representation of gender and ethnicity in language influence our thinking?
  • How ought we interpret cloaked language as a form of discrimination?

Students are required to read the assigned readings thoroughly and come to class prepared to discuss the reading(s). The more students engage with the materials, the more productive the course will be. 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 is a FLEXI paper that adopts a blended learning environment, so content will be delivered in-person and online. While we will meet twice weekly for lecture in the classroom, some students will join us virtually. There are no tutorials offered in this paper.

Just as with all university papers, the burden of the work is shared equally between the student and the lecturer. Students should take responsibility of their education by engaging with the material, the lecturer, and each other. To facilitate student learning we will employ the Moodle Online platform. Such a platform will permit the lecturer to alert the student of work that is coming due and to provide students with an additional opportunity to engage with the material for the paper.

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:

  • Think analytically about philosophical issues concerning the nature of language and communication.
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  • Engage in earnest and respectful dialogue with peers about sensitive and personal issues.
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  • Refine one's ability to recognise philosophical issues in the wild and to subject the issues to critical analysis.
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  • Analyse, evaluate and construct philosophical arguments, both in oral discussion and in written work.

    By the end of this paper, students will be able to read argumentative texts, including (but not limited to) philosophical articles) and identify the main thesis, the structure of the argument advanced in support of this thesis, and the premises used as reasons for the main thesis.

    Linked to the following assessments:
  • Understand some of the most influential positions taken on these issues in contemporary epistemology and philosophy of language.

    Students will have a working understanding of the main questions in social epistemology and the philosophy of language.

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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.

My role as the paper convenor

As the covenor of this paper, I am responsible for creating a safe and interesting learning environment for all students. I will help students learn the material by providing activities, artistic expressions, discussion topics, and, when necessary, individual attention. I should provoke thoughtful and reflective reactions in students, I should be a source of information, and I should be a educational trainer who pushes you to think more rigorously and critically about the content of the paper. I have spent a great deal of time creating this paper to insure that this paper will not be like other papers you may have completed. I would like for you to leave lecture each week excited and motivated to apply what you have learned in lecture to your personal and professional life.

As the convenor of this paper, I am not responsible for telling you "what to study for the test". I will not review every piece of information that you will need to know for doing well in each assessment. If you hope that I, as the course convenor, would be a resource for you to find out how you can put out the least amount of energy whilst still earning a good grade, I am not the convenor you're looking for. I respect you and your other time commitments enough to share this with you up front.

Your role as a Student

As a student enrolled in this paper, your primary responsibility is to attend class well prepared. That includes doing the assigned required reading and taking the time to think about how it connects with your experience and with the world around you. In lecture, you are expected to give all of us your attention and participate in lecture and group activities and discussion. To put it simply, if you hope to do well in this paper, you have to be an active participant in your education.

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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. Quiz
29 Jul 2022
11:30 PM
5
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
2. Participation
12
3. Short essays (300-500 words)
Average of All
48
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Short essay #1
29 Jul 2022
11:30 PM
-
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
5. Short Essay #2
12 Aug 2022
11:30 PM
-
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
6. Short Essay #3
26 Aug 2022
11:30 PM
-
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
7. Short Essay #4
16 Sep 2022
11:30 PM
-
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
8. Short Essay #5
30 Sep 2022
11:30 PM
-
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
9. Short Essay #6
14 Oct 2022
11:30 PM
-
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
10. Long Essay Plan
23 Sep 2022
11:30 PM
15
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
11. Long essay
21 Oct 2022
11:30 PM
20
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
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 required readings for the trimester. Since there are only two required reading each week, it is expected that students will have read and will have good command of the reading before we meet for lecture. That means each required reading should be read prior to attending the first lecture of the week in which the reading is listed. For example, for Week #2 of the paper, students are required to read J.L. Austin's 'Performative Utterances' and H.P. Grice's 'Logic and Conversation'. Please attend the first session of the week prepared to discuss Austin's essay. Always come to class ready to participate.

Reading a philosophy article, chapter, or book can be confusing for students who are unfamiliar with the dialectic or dialogic approach of philosophical writing. I have drafted a short reading that gives a few recommendations to students who have difficulty understanding what is going on in the readings. Recommendations regarding how to approach reading in a philosophy paper is available here.

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Recommended Readings

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The primary objective of this paper is to familiarise students with arguments and debates that have occurred, and in some cases are still underway, in the history of the philosophy of language, so it will rely heavily upon primary source material. Each week, however, I will recommend secondary source material for students to review and use the TALIS reading list as a vehicle for these recommendations. Hyperlinks to the reading list will be available through Moodle. Students enrolled in PHILO204 are not required to read or review the recommended readings, 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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Online Support

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I am NOT an IT Support Help Desk. Thankfully, the University of Waikato offers comprehensive technical information and help desk support. If you are having difficulty with something technology related, do not be tempted to email me first. You should contact the University's ITS Support Help Desk. They are the professionals and know exactly how to help you. 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 have sprung, 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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