Philosophy: University courses Phil110 and Phil235

  • Posted on: 5 December 2019
  • By: brentsilby
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Please be sure to read first. In Term 1 and 2 I am offering two university courses which can be completed at school at *NO COST TO THE STUDENTS* The courses are: Phil110 - Science: Good, Bad, Bogus and Phil 235 - Cyberspace, Cyborgs, and the Meaning of Life.

Students who completed Phil110 last year can enrol for Phil235, a stage 2 philosophy course. Students new to senior philosophy should enrol in Phil110. We will sort enrolments during class.

The courses are taught at school in seminar/tutorial format by Brent. Passing the course earns you points towards a university degree. Essays written can also be assessed against NCEA Level 4 academic writing standards.

The 90 minute sessions will be split into 2x45 minute sessions... one for each course. And now, the descriptors:

Phil110: This course is a critical thinker's toolkit. It will teach you 20 principles you can use to tell science from pseudo-science, truth from falsehood, logic from rhetoric, sound reasoning from wishful thinking, effective medicine from quackery, and good evidence from lies, fraud and fakery. The critical thinking skills you learn in this course will be vital if you go on to do more philosophy. They are also readily applicable to other disciplines, and should help you steer clear of scam-artists, charlatans, confidence-tricksters and get-rich-quick-schemes in the world outside of academia. Topics covered include the fallibility of the senses, the fallibility of memory, the placebo effect, the tricks of the cold reader’s trade, confirmation bias, the Barnum effect, relativism, mind viruses, the basics of logic, formal and informal fallacies, and the scientific evaluation of competing hypotheses.

Phil235: This course investigates a raft of questions - concerning mind, metaphysics, knowledge and human nature - thrown up by the ongoing revolution in information technology. These include: Might I attain immortality by porting myself into cyberspace? Am I already in cyberspace? Is the universe nothing but a computer? Should we fear a forthcoming Age of Robots? Is my iPhone part of my mind? Could a computer ever be programmed to be creative and intelligent, and to equal or exceed the problem solving capacities of the human brain?

Assessment Opportunities: