PHILO304-22A (HAM)

Meaning, Understanding, and Truth

15 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)

: monique.mulder@waikato.ac.nz

Placement/WIL Coordinator(s)

Tutor(s)

Student Representative(s)

Lab Technician(s)

Librarian(s)

: anne.ferrier-watson@waikato.ac.nz

You can contact staff by:

  • Calling +64 7 838 4466 select option 1, then enter the extension.
  • Extensions starting with 4, 5, 9 or 3 can also be direct dialled:
    • For extensions starting with 4: dial +64 7 838 extension.
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    • For extensions starting with 9: dial +64 7 837 extension.
    • For extensions starting with 3: dial +64 7 2620 + the last 3 digits of the extension e.g. 3123 = +64 7 262 0123.
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Paper Description

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Thinkers across many traditions within philosophy have sought to identify the nature of truth. This isn't surprising, as a moment's reflection will reveal that one of our most basic projects as thinkers is to separate true claims, hypotheses, and theories from false ones. To do this, it would seem that we must first understand what it is for a claim, hypothesis, or theory to be true or false. That is, it would seem that to responsibly and effectively think about the world that we inhabit, we must understand the nature of truth.

The theories of truth that philosophers have defended over the years are multifarious, and this paper offers an overview of many of the major classic and contemporary theories. We will begin with an introductory discussion in Week 1. We will then turn to the classic trifecta in debates about truth: correspondence, coherence, and pragmatist theories. After working through these classic theories of truth, we will close out the first half of the paper by considering two competing ideas about truth: that truth is primitive, and that truth is relative.

In the second half of the paper, we'll start by looking at pluralist theories of truth, according to which there are different ways for a proposition to be true. We'll then look at deflationary theories of truth, according to which truth doesn't have a nature (or at least not a very interesting one). Continuing on from this discussion of deflationism, we'll cover Alfred Tarski's landmark semantic conception of truth, which among other things, served to safeguard the notion of truth during the anti-metaphysical campaigns of the logical positivists.

To close the paper, we'll shift from focusing on theories of the nature of truth to looking at a series of three questions about other truth-related phenomena. The first is the question as to whether truth is valuable, and if so, what kind of value truth is and how valuable it is. The second question is how we should understand the recent socio-political phenomena connected to 'post-truth.' The final question that we'll discuss is: what is the nature of bullshit, and how is bullshit related to lying?

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Paper Structure

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The paper's content will be delivered in the style of a flipped classroom, which involves both online and in-person interaction. This will ensure that students who participate in person, as well as those who participate virtually, are able to deeply engage with the content.

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Learning Outcomes

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Students who successfully complete the course should be able to:

  • Identify a range of key theories of the nature and value of truth
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  • Identify pressing objections that have been raised against these theories
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  • Identify significant philosophical and socio-political topics connected to truth
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  • Strengthen their competence with the methods of analytic philosophy
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  • Develop their ability to precisely and creatively evaluate philosophical positions and arguments, both in conversation and in writing
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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.

Our role as paper convenors

As the covenors of this paper, we are responsible for creating a safe and interesting learning environment for all students. We will help students learn the material by providing activities, artistic expressions, discussion topics, and, when necessary, individual attention. We should provoke thoughtful and reflective reactions in students, We should be a source of information, as well as educational trainers who push you to think more rigorously and critically about the content of the paper. We have spent a great deal of time creating this paper to ensure that it will not be like other papers you may have completed. We would like for you to leave the workshop each week excited and motivated to apply what you have learned to your personal and professional lives.

As convenors of this paper, we are not responsible for telling you "what to study for the test". We will not review every piece of information that you will need to know for doing well in each assessment. If you hope that we, as the paper convenors, would be a resource for you to find out how you can put out the least amount of energy whilst still earning a good grade, we are not the convenors you're looking for. We respect you and your other time commitments enough to share this with you up front.

Your role as a student

As a student enrolled in this paper, your primary responsibility is to attend class well prepared. That includes doing the required reading and taking the time to think about how it connects with your experience and with the world around you. During the workshops, you are expected to give everyone your attention and participate in group activities and discussion. To put it simply, if you hope to do well in this paper, you must be an active participant in your education.

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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. Participation
10
  • In Class: In Lecture
  • Online: Moodle Forum Discussion
2. Final essay plan
27 May 2022
5:00 PM
15
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
3. Weekly Assignments
20
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
4. Midterm Essay
14 Apr 2022
5:00 PM
25
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
5. Final essay
7 Jun 2022
5:00 PM
30
  • Online: Submit through Moodle
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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The schedule above provides a list of the required readings for the trimester. Students should familiarise themselves with each reading prior to attending the workshop for the relevant week and should come to the meeting ready to discuss its contents in depth.

Recommendations for how to approach reading in a philosophy paper are available here.

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Recommended Readings

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The schedule above also provides some of the recommended readings for the paper. The convenors have curated a more comprehensive list of recommended readings and YouTube videos that will be available via Moodle. Students are certainly not expected to consult all of these sources. However, if they become interested in particular topics that we take up, the sources will be useful tools in their continued thought about those topics.

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Other Resources

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The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is an excellent internet resource that contains extensive articles on many of the topics that we'll discuss.
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Online Support

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Should a student have difficulty accessing sources via Moodle, they should feel free to email one of the convenors. However, if the matter is related to a technical problem with Moodle, then it is best to contact the University's IT Help Desk at 07 838 4008.
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Workload

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Students should expect to spend an average of 10 hours per week on this paper, including class time.
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Linkages to Other Papers

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Philosophy is the crucible from which all other disciplines have arisen, and truth is one of the most enduring interests of both philosophers and non-philosophers. Accordingly, this paper links with every other paper that is offered at the University.
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Prerequisite(s)

Prerequisite papers: Students must have completed at least 15 points of Philosophy papers.

Corequisite(s)

Equivalent(s)

Restriction(s)

Restricted papers: PHIL350

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