PHIL 2040 - Metaphysics: Identity, Time and Freedom
North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2023
General Course Information
Course Code PHIL 2040 Course Metaphysics: Identity, Time and Freedom Coordinating Unit Philosophy Term Semester 2 Level Undergraduate Location/s North Terrace Campus Units 3 Contact Up to 3 hours per week Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y Incompatible PHIL 2027 Assumed Knowledge At least 6 units of Level I undergraduate study Course Description Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy that investigates very general questions about the nature of reality, questions that are prior to other scientific investigations. Where physics might tell us how objects move through space and time, metaphysics investigates questions like 'What is the nature of time itself?', 'How do objects continue to exist over time and through change?', 'What is an object?' or even 'What is existence?'. Metaphysics also concerns itself with questions about the relations between different branches of knowledge. For example: 'Is the world entirely physical?', or 'Can human agency be reconciled with the existence of causal laws?' In this course, we will approach some of these issues as they are treated in contemporary analytic philosophy. We focus particularly on the nature of time (including time travel and the significance of relativity theory); the nature of identity (including personal identity, the paradox of change, and the nature of parts and wholes); and the problem of free will.
Course Coordinator: Associate Professor Antony Eagle
The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.
Course Learning Outcomes
- Demonstrate understanding of some central philosophical debates in contemporary metaphysics.
- Analyse contemporary and historical argumentative texts and extract the relevant views and arguments from them.
- Accurately present philosophical arguments in written form and oral contexts (individual and/or group).
- Evaluate philosophical and scientific arguments about time, identity and freedom, providing appropriate grounds for those evaluations.
- Identify and use relevant evidence to support or criticise metaphysical hypotheses.
- Present a sustained argumentative case in written form, addressing potential counterarguments and objections.
University Graduate Attributes
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:
University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
Attribute 1: Deep discipline knowledge and intellectual breadth
Graduates have comprehensive knowledge and understanding of their subject area, the ability to engage with different traditions of thought, and the ability to apply their knowledge in practice including in multi-disciplinary or multi-professional contexts.
1, 2, 4
Attribute 2: Creative and critical thinking, and problem solving
Graduates are effective problems-solvers, able to apply critical, creative and evidence-based thinking to conceive innovative responses to future challenges.
1, 4, 5
Attribute 3: Teamwork and communication skills
Graduates convey ideas and information effectively to a range of audiences for a variety of purposes and contribute in a positive and collaborative manner to achieving common goals.
Attribute 5: Intercultural and ethical competency
Graduates are responsible and effective global citizens whose personal values and practices are consistent with their roles as responsible members of society.
Attribute 8: Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
Graduates are self-aware and reflective; they are flexible and resilient and have the capacity to accept and give constructive feedback; they act with integrity and take responsibility for their actions.
3, 4, 6
The majority of readings for this course will be available electronically through MyUni. However, the unit on free will focusses on this text:
- van Inwagen, Peter (1983) An Essay on Free Will. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Students will find it important to have unimpeded access to a copy of this book. A copy will be put on reserve in the Barr Smith Library.
Online LearningLecture notes and recordings will be available via MyUni. There will also be a monitored discussion board hosted on MyUni.
Learning & Teaching Activities
Learning & Teaching ModesThis course is taught by a mixture of online lectures and whole-class workshops. There are about 2 hours worth of lecture recordings per week, broken up typically into 3–5 topic-focussed videos.
The workshop is devoted to discussion of weekly lecture material. Students engage with an online discussion board prior to the workshop, which gives everyone a chance to engage with the material substantively before the class takes place. Participation is assessed based on the pre-class discussion board; attendance at the workshop itself is optional.
The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
Workload Total Hours per semester Structured Learning 2 hour equivalent lecture material per week 24 1 x 1 hour workshop per week 12 Self-directed Learning Required reading (6 hours per week) 72 Discussion forum preparation, 1 hour per week 12 Assignment preparation (3 hours per week) 36 TOTAL 156
Learning Activities Summary
WEEK LECTURE TOPIC 1
Method in Metaphysics and the Paradoxes of Time Travel
Part I: Time 2 The A-Theory, the B-Theory, and Temporal Ontology 3
Passage and the Direction of Time
Temporal Experience and the Attitudes
Part II: Identity 5 Personal identity 6
Change and Persistence
7 Parts, Places, and Persistence 8
Relativity and Persistence
Part III: Freedom 9
The Problems of Free Will and Fatalism
10 Incompatibilism and the Consequence Argument 11 Compatibilism and Moral Responsibility 12 Do we have free will?
The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:
- Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
- Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
- Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
- Assessment must maintain academic standards.
ASSESSMENT TASK TASK TYPE WEIGHTING COURSE LEARNING OUTCOME(S) Research Essay Summative/Formative 50% 1,2,3,4,5,6 Short Essay Summative/Formative 35% 1,2,3,4 Discussion tasks Formative/Summative 15% 1,2,3,4,5
Assessment Description Weighting Research Essay Essay of ~2500 words covering a topic from the latter part of the course. Essays will be expected to go beyond prescribed course material and will require further research. 50% Short Essay Essay of ~1500 words covering a topic from the first part of the course. Essays will likely focus on prescribed course material. 35% Discussion tasks Students providing a short answer (~150 words) to a prior suggested question through an online discussion board, as the basis for in-class discussion. Evaluated over the course of the semester. Evaluation focussed primarily on participation and development rather than summative achievement. 15%
No information currently available.
Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:
M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme) Grade Mark Description FNS Fail No Submission F 1-49 Fail P 50-64 Pass C 65-74 Credit D 75-84 Distinction HD 85-100 High Distinction CN Continuing NFE No Formal Examination RP Result Pending
Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.
Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.
Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.
The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.
SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy (http://www.adelaide.edu.au/policies/101/) course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.
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