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PHIX358 – Metaphysics

2017 – S2 OUA

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff OUA Unit Convenor
Jennifer Duke-Yonge
Contact via Email, via "Dialogues" in iLearn, or +61 2 9850 8826.
Tutor
Elizabeth Schier
Contact via Email, or via "Dialogues" in iLearn
Internal Convenor/Lecturer
Richard Heersmink
Richard Heersmink
Prerequisites Prerequisites
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description
This unit examines both traditional topics in metaphysics as well as metaphysical topics in other areas in philosophy. The first half of the unit is structured around traditional topics such as causation, free will, laws of nature, personal identity, mental states, and time. Some of the questions we will look at are: Do we have free will or are our actions determined by the laws of nature? How does the mind relate to the brain? Will my personal identity persist over time? What is the nature of time? Does time flow or is it static? The second half of the unit is devoted to a critical examination of metaphysical topics in other areas in philosophy such as philosophy of art, philosophy of technology, and philosophy of religion. Some of the questions we will look at are: What defines a work of art? How can we distinguish between a work of art and an artifact? What is the nature of virtual entities and how do they differ from physical entities? Does god exist?

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at https://www.open.edu.au/student-admin-and-support/key-dates/

Learning Outcomes

  1. Learn basic theories and approaches in metaphysics
  2. Learn to express your opinion and interpretations of philosophical readings
  3. Learn to close-read and evaluate a philosophical text
  4. Learn to write a philosophical argument and essay

Assessment Tasks

Name Weighting Due
Essay 1 30% 27 September
Essay 2 40% 12 November
Online forum 15% Throughout
Three quizzes 15% Week 4, 8, 12

Essay 1

Due: 27 September
Weighting: 30%

You will write a short 1500-word essay on one of the topics discussed during the first half of the course. These topics include causation, free will, laws of nature, personal identity, mental states, and God. In week 8, we'll discuss the outcome of the essays during class, providing elaborate feedback on your essay such that you can avoid common mistakes in your second essay. Your essay should be submitted online via Turnitin. A marking rubric will be provided on iLearn.


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • Learn basic theories and approaches in metaphysics
  • Learn to express your opinion and interpretations of philosophical readings
  • Learn to close-read and evaluate a philosophical text
  • Learn to write a philosophical argument and essay

Essay 2

Due: 12 November
Weighting: 40%

You will write a 2000-word essay on one of the topics discussed during the second half of the course. These topics include time and time travel, the metaphysics of art, artifacts and virtual reality. Your essay should be submitted online via Turnitin. A marking rubric will be provided on iLearn.


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • Learn basic theories and approaches in metaphysics
  • Learn to express your opinion and interpretations of philosophical readings
  • Learn to close-read and evaluate a philosophical text
  • Learn to write a philosophical argument and essay

Online forum

Due: Throughout
Weighting: 15%

For external students, participation marks will be based on participation in an online forum. Each week, you have to answer 4 questions on the forum in each 50 words. Your participation will be assessed based on the quality of your answers.


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • Learn basic theories and approaches in metaphysics
  • Learn to express your opinion and interpretations of philosophical readings
  • Learn to close-read and evaluate a philosophical text

Three quizzes

Due: Week 4, 8, 12
Weighting: 15%

Three short online quizzes in which you answer 10 multiple choice questions on the material from week 1-4, 5-8 and 9-12. 


This Assessment Task relates to the following Learning Outcomes:
  • Learn basic theories and approaches in metaphysics
  • Learn to close-read and evaluate a philosophical text

Delivery and Resources

We will use the following textbook: Carroll, J.W. & Markosian, N. (2010). An introduction to metaphysics. Cambridge University Press. We will also use philosophical articles that will be uploaded on iLearn. 

Unit Schedule

Important schedule information: Please note that OUA units offered by Macquarie University now follow Macquarie Sessions rather than OUA Study Periods. This will include a mid-session break of two weeks. You will find the Session dates here:

https://www.open.edu.au/student-admin-and-support/key-dates-2017/

 

Integrated delivery

This OUA unit will be running in Semester 2 as an integrated unit with the equivalent on-campus unit. This means that lecture content (slides and lecture recordings) will be added as the lectures are given over the semester. The lectures will be held on campus on Thursdays between 10am and 12pm, and the recordings will be available through iLearn shortly after the completion of the lecture.

 

Week            Topics                                                         

1             Course intro, what is metaphysics?                                       

Essential reading: Ch. 1 of Carroll & Markosian

2             Causation                                                          

Essential reading: Ch. 2 of Carroll & Markosian

3             Free will and determinism                                                         

Essential reading: Ch. 3 of Carroll & Markosian

4             Laws of nature                                                

Essential reading: Ch. 4 of Carroll & Markosian

5             Personal identity                                            

Essential reading: Ch. 5 of Carroll & Markosian

6             Mental states                                                   

Essential reading: Ch. 6 of Carroll & Markosian

7             The metaphysics of God

Essential reading:

  • Wainwright, W. (2012). Concepts of god. In Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
  • Himma, K. (2015). Anselm: Ontological argument for god's existence. In Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Midterm break

8             Time                                                                    

Essential reading: Ch. 7 of Carroll & Markosian

9             Time travel

                Essential reading: Nicolas Smith. (2013). Time travel. In Stanford Encyclopedia of

                Philosophy.

10           The metaphysics of art

Essential reading: Davies, S. (2005). The ontology of art. In J. Levinson (ed.), The Oxford handbook of aesthetics (pp. 156-180). Oxford University Press.

11           The metaphysics of artifacts                                                     

Essential reading:

  • Houkes, W.N. & Vermaas, P. (2009). Artefacts in analytic metaphysics. Techne, 13(2), 74-81.
  • Kroes, P. & Meijers, A. (2006). The dual-nature of technical artifacts. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A, 37(1), 1-4.
  • Heersmink, R. (2014). The metaphysics of cognitive artefacts. Philosophical Explorations. DOI: 10.1080/13869795.2014.910310

12           The metaphysics of virtual reality

                Essential reading:

  • Brey, P. (2014). The physical and social reality of virtual reality. In M. Grimshaw (ed.), Oxford handbook of virtuality, (pp. 42-54). Oxford University Press.
  • Mooradian, N. (2006). Virtual reality, ontology, and value. Metaphilosophy, 37(5), 673-690.

Policies and Procedures

Late Submission

Unless otherwise stated, late submission of written work will result in a deduction of 10% of the mark awarded for each week or part of a week beyond the due date, or date to which an extension has been granted.

Extension Request

Disruption to Studies Procedure (http://www.mq.edu.au/policy/docs/disruption_studies/procedure.html)

The University recognises that students may experience disruptions that adversely affect their academic performance in assessment activities.

The disruption to studies policy (http://www.mq.edu.au/policy/docs/disruption_studies/policy.html) applies only to serious and unavoidable disruptions that arise after a study period has commenced.

Serious and unavoidable disruption

The University classifies a disruption as serious and unavoidable if it:

  • could not have reasonably been anticipated, avoided or guarded against by the student; and
  • was beyond the student's control; and
  • caused substantial disruption to the student's capacity for effective study and/or completion of required work; and
  • occurred during an event critical study period and was at least three (3) consecutive days duration, and/or
  • prevented completion of a final examination.

If you feel that you've been impacted by a serious and unavoidable disruption to study situation, submit an application as follows:

  1. Visit Ask MQ (https://ask.mq.edu.au) and use your OneID to log in via 'Current student domestic and international'
  2. Under 'Forms' select 'disruptions' and fill in your relevant details.
  3. Attach supporting documents by clicking 'Add a reply', click 'browse' and navigating to the files you want to attach, then click 'submit form' to send your notification and supporting documents
  4. Please keep copies of your original documents, as they may be requested in the future as part of the assessment process

Review

Once your submission is assessed, recommendations are sent to your unit convenor to ensure an appropriate solution for affected assessment(s) is organised.

OUA Specific Policies and Procedures

OUA Special Circumstances Process

Special Circumstances refers to late withdrawal from a unit and your request to have your circumstances taken into account for a possible refund of fees and removal of a "fail" result.

Applications for Special Circumstances are to be submitted to Open Universities Australia directly:

https://www.open.edu.au/public/student-admin-and-support/student-support-services/special-circumstances

Macquarie University policies and procedures are accessible from Policy Central. Students should be aware of the following policies in particular with regard to Learning and Teaching:

Academic Honesty Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/academic_honesty/policy.html

Assessment Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/assessment/policy_2016.html

Grade Appeal Policy http://mq.edu.au/policy/docs/gradeappeal/policy.html

Complaint Management Procedure for Students and Members of the Public http://www.mq.edu.au/policy/docs/complaint_management/procedure.html​

Disruption to Studies Policy http://www.mq.edu.au/policy/docs/disruption_studies/policy.html The Disruption to Studies Policy is effective from March 3 2014 and replaces the Special Consideration Policy.

In addition, a number of other policies can be found in the Learning and Teaching Category of Policy Central.

Student Code of Conduct

Macquarie University students have a responsibility to be familiar with the Student Code of Conduct: https://students.mq.edu.au/support/student_conduct/

Results

Results shown in iLearn, or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent. For more information visit ask.mq.edu.au.

Student Support

Macquarie University provides a range of support services for students. For details, visit http://students.mq.edu.au/support/

Learning Skills

Learning Skills (mq.edu.au/learningskills) provides academic writing resources and study strategies to improve your marks and take control of your study.

Student Enquiry Service

For all student enquiries, visit Student Connect at ask.mq.edu.au

Equity Support

Students with a disability are encouraged to contact the Disability Service who can provide appropriate help with any issues that arise during their studies.

IT Help

For help with University computer systems and technology, visit http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/offices_and_units/information_technology/help/

When using the University's IT, you must adhere to the Acceptable Use of IT Resources Policy. The policy applies to all who connect to the MQ network including students.

Graduate Capabilities

Problem Solving and Research Capability

Our graduates should be capable of researching; of analysing, and interpreting and assessing data and information in various forms; of drawing connections across fields of knowledge; and they should be able to relate their knowledge to complex situations at work or in the world, in order to diagnose and solve problems. We want them to have the confidence to take the initiative in doing so, within an awareness of their own limitations.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Learn basic theories and approaches in metaphysics
  • Learn to express your opinion and interpretations of philosophical readings
  • Learn to close-read and evaluate a philosophical text

Assessment tasks

  • Essay 1
  • Essay 2
  • Online forum
  • Three quizzes

Creative and Innovative

Our graduates will also be capable of creative thinking and of creating knowledge. They will be imaginative and open to experience and capable of innovation at work and in the community. We want them to be engaged in applying their critical, creative thinking.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Learn basic theories and approaches in metaphysics
  • Learn to express your opinion and interpretations of philosophical readings
  • Learn to close-read and evaluate a philosophical text

Assessment tasks

  • Essay 1
  • Essay 2
  • Online forum
  • Three quizzes

Effective Communication

We want to develop in our students the ability to communicate and convey their views in forms effective with different audiences. We want our graduates to take with them the capability to read, listen, question, gather and evaluate information resources in a variety of formats, assess, write clearly, speak effectively, and to use visual communication and communication technologies as appropriate.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcome

  • Learn to express your opinion and interpretations of philosophical readings

Assessment tasks

  • Essay 1
  • Essay 2
  • Online forum

Commitment to Continuous Learning

Our graduates will have enquiring minds and a literate curiosity which will lead them to pursue knowledge for its own sake. They will continue to pursue learning in their careers and as they participate in the world. They will be capable of reflecting on their experiences and relationships with others and the environment, learning from them, and growing - personally, professionally and socially.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Learn basic theories and approaches in metaphysics
  • Learn to close-read and evaluate a philosophical text

Assessment tasks

  • Essay 1
  • Essay 2
  • Online forum

Capable of Professional and Personal Judgement and Initiative

We want our graduates to have emotional intelligence and sound interpersonal skills and to demonstrate discernment and common sense in their professional and personal judgement. They will exercise initiative as needed. They will be capable of risk assessment, and be able to handle ambiguity and complexity, enabling them to be adaptable in diverse and changing environments.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Learn basic theories and approaches in metaphysics
  • Learn to close-read and evaluate a philosophical text

Assessment tasks

  • Essay 1
  • Essay 2

Discipline Specific Knowledge and Skills

Our graduates will take with them the intellectual development, depth and breadth of knowledge, scholarly understanding, and specific subject content in their chosen fields to make them competent and confident in their subject or profession. They will be able to demonstrate, where relevant, professional technical competence and meet professional standards. They will be able to articulate the structure of knowledge of their discipline, be able to adapt discipline-specific knowledge to novel situations, and be able to contribute from their discipline to inter-disciplinary solutions to problems.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Learn basic theories and approaches in metaphysics
  • Learn to express your opinion and interpretations of philosophical readings
  • Learn to close-read and evaluate a philosophical text

Assessment tasks

  • Essay 1
  • Essay 2
  • Online forum
  • Three quizzes

Critical, Analytical and Integrative Thinking

We want our graduates to be capable of reasoning, questioning and analysing, and to integrate and synthesise learning and knowledge from a range of sources and environments; to be able to critique constraints, assumptions and limitations; to be able to think independently and systemically in relation to scholarly activity, in the workplace, and in the world. We want them to have a level of scientific and information technology literacy.

This graduate capability is supported by:

Learning outcomes

  • Learn basic theories and approaches in metaphysics
  • Learn to express your opinion and interpretations of philosophical readings
  • Learn to close-read and evaluate a philosophical text

Assessment tasks

  • Essay 1
  • Essay 2
  • Three quizzes

Changes from Previous Offering

In Semester 2, this unit will be integrated with the internal version of the unit on-campus at Macquarie University. See the note above under Unit Schedule for details. Contact the OUA convenor, Jenny Duke-Yonge (jennifer.duke-yonge@mq.edu.au) with any questions or concerns.