PHILO588-19A (HAM)

Foundations of Philosophical Research

30 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

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Paper Description

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The primary aim of this paper is to introduce graduate students to the methods of philosophical scholarship, i.e., the "doing of philosophy". Note: Graduate students outside of the Philosophy Programme may enrol in this paper with permission of the paper's Convenor.
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Paper Structure

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"Facts are stupid things." -- Ronald Reagan, 40th President of the United States

"Get your facts first, then distort them as you please." -- Mark Twain

"Facts are many, but truth is one." -- RabindranathTagore

"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -- Aldous Huxley

This paper is an intensive seminar on the foundations of contemporary philosophy for honours and first-year graduate students that serves two principal functions. First, it serves as an introduction to the practice of philosophy, i.e., to help postgraduate and graduate students refine their argumentative, reading, writing, and discussion skills, which is necessary for a successful graduate and professional career. Second, it serves as an introduction to a specific area of philosophical interest. For this particular iteration of the PHILO588, our focus is: the nature of facts.

Facts are at the core of intellectual activity, a precondition for understanding, and the central product of all human endeavours. Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the debate concerning what a fact is continues unabated. There are two theories of facts that have dominated the philosophical landscape. On one hand, facts were taken to be abstract complexes of objects and properties, which have various logical and metaphysical features (cf. Armstrong 1997; Austin 1970; Clark 1975, 1976; Grossman 1976, 1983; Martin 1967; Moore 1899; Stebbing 1939; Wells 1949; Wittgenstein 1921/1974; 1969). This compositional conception contrasts with a deflationary propositional conception, which merely takes facts to be true propositions (cf. Baylis 1948; Restall 2004). Within these conceptions, various formulations have been deployed to account for negative and disjunctive facts (Armstrong 1997; Chrudzimski 2012; Field 2003; Fine 1982), counterfactuals (Kratzer 2002), causal facts (Mellor 1995; Persson 1997), and non-causal facts (Correia and Schneider 2012; Mulligan 2007), and these two accounts have been challenged by sceptical or quietist approaches to the nature of facts (Betti 2015; Rundle 1979, 1983). We will not only explore the nature of facts literature, coming to a better understanding of each of these positions, but also ask: why facts matter? Are facts valuable in virtue of being facts, or are facts merely instrumentally valuable?

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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. Office Hour / Interview regarding Final Essay
21 Mar 2019
6:00 AM
5
  • Other: One-on-one office hour
2. Essay Plan
11 Apr 2019
7:00 AM
15
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. Draft Essay
9 May 2019
7:00 AM
15
  • Email: Convenor
4. Final Essay
30
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
5. Weekly Micro-commentaries
25
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
6. Participation
10
  • In Class: In Lecture
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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Philosophy depends upon oral and written communication, and the primary form of written communication comes by way of peer-reviewed journal articles and monographs. Students enrolled in PHILO588 will be required to read approximately 50 pages of text per week. The expectation is, however, as a graduate student, to read upwards of 100-150 pages of text per week.
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Recommended Readings

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There will be recommended readings that graduate students should make an effort to read prior to the weekly lecture. Recommended readings will be posted in the paper's Talis Reading List and is available by hyperlink from the paper's Moodle page.
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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 sprung, so this paper links with every other paper in the offing at university.
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Prerequisite(s)

B+ average over 300-level Philosophy papers

Corequisite(s)

Equivalent(s)

Restriction(s)

Restricted Papers: PHIL588

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