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Undergraduate Module Descriptor

PHL3108: Fundamental Ontology

This module descriptor refers to the 2016/7 academic year.

Module Aims

What is the world made of? Philosophical attempts to address this question form the core of this module. We aim to explore a range of attempts to explain the nature of the world around us, in terms of its most basic constituents. Notions such as “substance”, “process”, “atoms”, “ideas” have all been central in questions of fundamental ontology and we will aim to develop a critical understanding of their place in our attempts to understand the world. We also aim to explore related questions concerning the number of types of “stuff” (i.e. the debates between pluralists and monists) - and the problem of change and stability. Is change an illusion? What features of the world (if any) are constant? Is the world simply material? We aim to critically engage with philosophical attempts to answer these questions as well as question the place of philosophy in addressing them.

What do lecturers hope to cover in this module in terms of knowledge and learning opportunities for the students? Include details of research-enriched learning/ teaching and links to employment.

What is the world made of? Philosophical attempts to address this question form the core of this module. We aim to explore a range of attempts to explain the nature of the world around us, in terms of its most basic constituents. Notions such as “substance”, “process”, “atoms”, “ideas” have all been central in questions of fundamental ontology and we will aim to develop a critical understanding of their place in our attempts to understand the world. We also aim to explore related questions concerning the number of types of “stuff” (i.e. the debates between pluralists and monists) - and the problem of change and stability. Is change an illusion? What features of the world (if any) are constant? Is the world simply material? We aim to critically engage with philosophical attempts to answer these questions as well as question the place of philosophy in addressing them.

What do lecturers hope to cover in this module in terms of knowledge and learning opportunities for the students? Include details of research-enriched learning/ teaching and links to employment.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

This module's assessment will evaluate your achievement of the ILOs listed here – you will see reference to these ILO numbers in the details of the assessment for this module.

On successfully completing the programme you will be able to:
Module-Specific Skills1. Develop an advanced understanding of the problems of fundamental ontology and a range of philosophical attempts to address these problems
2. Analyse and critically engage with a range of ontological theories, developing an understanding of issues at stake in some key metaphysical disputes over the fundamental nature of the world
Discipline-Specific Skills3. Reveal and critique the ontological assumptions underlying of a range of areas of philosophy (e.g. mind, science)
4. Understand how fundamental question of ontology relate to wider philosophical understanding of the world (e.g. substance as a fundamental philosophical category) and make use of this insight in your wider philosophy)
Personal and Key Skills5. Grasp, and be able to articulate clearly, the problematic nature of many of our basic assumptions about the world
6. Explain a wide range of problems and theories of varying degrees of abstractness, and present coherent clear arguments in response to these problems and theories.
7. Demonstrate the ability to work independently, within a limited time frame, and without access to external sources, to complete a specified task.