Metaphilosophy

Graduate Program (& Advanced Certificate) Status

Course Level: 
Master’s
Doctoral
Campus: 
Vienna
Course Open to: 
Students on-site
Academic Year: 
2022-2023
Term: 
Fall
US Credits: 
2
ECTS Credits: 
4
Course Code: 
PHIL5830
Course Description: 

Metaphilosophy is a subfield of philosophy that critically reflects on the aims, boundaries and methods of philosophy. It reflects on what philosophy is, how it is practiced and what its purpose or role is, in relation to life, society and other knowledge seeking practices. In this course, we will start with a focus on two subareas within metaphilosophy: philosophy and its social context (e.g., how philosophy relates to social justice) and methodological issues (e.g., which role should thought experiments play).

We will start with a historical and systematic introduction addressing metaphilosophy’s own historical development as part of 20th century philosophy. We will continue with four seminar-style sessions on the two areas in focus in the course. After that, we will broaden our view and venture into further issues. The respective topics will be selected together with the students, so that the subsequent discussions can more directly reflect the specific interests of participating students. The course ends with a more practice-oriented approach to metaphilosophy.

Learning Outcomes: 

Students will understand the core issues related to the topic of the course. They will practice their skills related to reading, research, analysis and discussion. In particular, they will learn to think critically about philosophy, as part of contemporary academic scholarship. They will also learn how to develop their own research project, in reaction to the state of the art in a philosophical subfield. A secure background in philosophical reasoning is required to be able to profit from the course’s reflective stance on philosophy. Yet, no preliminary knowledge about the topic of the course is necessary for successful participation.

Assessment: 

Students are required to read and study the mandatory material (core readings) in depth, and for each class. In addition, they need to participate in oral discussions and short written exercises during or before the class meetings. They will also have (as a group or individual) to prepare a short presentation for one of the sessions, which will entail a review of the state of the art regarding the topic at issue, citing at least 5 core references. This trains the students’ abilities to find literature on a philosophical question, a skill that will also be at focus at the end of the course.

In the later parts of the course, students will form groups around four topics to be highlighted (Wk 7-10) and work together toward their term papers on the respective topic. They will thus learn how to collaborate, to give feedback and to take up critique from others, in addition to learning how to narrow down a research topic.

For more on general rules of participation and a first orientation on what is expected from term papers, see the handout attached to this Syllabus.

Grading will be based on the final term paper (2000 words). Handout on the details of what is expected will be provided in Wk 1. Exceptional participation during the course can lead to an upgrade (e.g. from A- for the paper to an A for the overall course).

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