Academic year
2023/2024 Syllabus of previous years
Official course title
Course code
LT9004 (AF:445085 AR:251616)
On campus classes
ECTS credits
Degree level
Bachelor's Degree Programme
Educational sector code
1st Semester
Course year
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Contribution of the course to the overall degree programme goals: This course introduces the student to some major problems in Western philosophy and reviews some of its main branches (Theory of Knowledge, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Religion, etc.). In addition, it focuses on characteristic aspects of philosophical questioning by analysing how possible answers have been elaborated through the close reading of a few classical texts. Finally, by extending our gaze to other traditions and cultural contexts, we will take a look at similarities and differences with other ways of thinking.
Expected learning outcomes:

The course is designed to provide students with a comprehensive introduction to the central questions, concepts, and methods of philosophical inquiry. During the semester, we will explore a range of philosophical topics, including metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and more. We will also examine the ways in which philosophy intersects with other disciplines, such as science, religion, and art. By the end of the course, participants will have gained a deeper understanding of philosophical thought and developed their critical thinking and analytical skills.

In particular, students will be able to:
- Recognise and analyse the structure of a philosophical question, grasping its premises and identifying the most appropriate forms of rational justification to answer it;
- Orientate him/herself in the panorama of the different philosophical disciplines (ethics, metaphysics, epistemology etc.) by mastering the essential terms of their vocabulary (rationalism, empiricism, realism, idealism etc.);
- Be familiar with the context, the premises, the key problems and the original answers formulated by the authors of the texts we will examine (cf. § ‘referral texts’);
- Become acquainted with the structure and specifics of a philosophical text, recognising its parts, arguments and identifying any limitations, assumptions and fallacies;
- Expound the argumentative framework of a text and identify its philosophical issues, arguing and presenting his or her observations in a coherent and logically structured form;
- Mastering the basic rules of academic writing.
The course does not require prerequisites.
Students with special needs are requested to contact the professor to discuss the most suitable arrangements for course participation, use of materials and examination procedures.

In the course, we will analyse different theories, issues and philosophical approaches within seven thematic macro-areas:

[1] An insight into the techniques of philosophical thinking and argumentation: We will explore different techniques of constructing and analyzing arguments, identifying fallacies, and evaluating evidence. We will discuss the importance of logical reasoning and clear communication in philosophical discourse.
[2] Epistemology and Metaphysics: This section introduces the theory of knowledge and the nature of reality. We will explore different theories of knowledge, such as empiricism and rationalism, and their implications for our understanding of the world. We will also delve into metaphysical questions, such as the nature of existence, reality, and causality.
[3] Philosophy of Mind: This section introduces the study of the mind and consciousness. We will explore different theories of mind, such as dualism and materialism, and their implications for our understanding of human cognition and behavior.
[4] Philosophy of Religion: This section introduces the rational study of religion and its relationship with philosophy. We will explore different philosophical approaches to religion, such as the problem of evil and the existence of God, and their implications for our understanding of faith and belief.
[5] Moral Philosophy: This section introduces the study of ethics and morality. We will explore different theories of morality, such as consequentialism and deontology, and their implications for our understanding of right and wrong.
[6] Political Philosophy: This section introduces the study of politics and government. We will explore different theories of political philosophy, such as liberalism or utilitarism, and their implications for our understanding of the role of government in society.
[7] Beyond Western paradigms of thought: This last section introduces the study of non-Western philosophical traditions, such as Indian, Chinese, and African philosophy. We will explore different philosophical perspectives and their unique approaches to fundamental questions of life, knowledge, and reality.

In parallel, the concepts and topics studied will be deepened and challenged through close reading of the following texts: Bertrand Russell, "The Problems of Philosophy" (1912); David Hume, "An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding" (1748); René Descartes, "Meditations on First philosophy" (1641); Jean-Paul Sartre, "Existentialism and Humanism" (1946).
Referral texts
Chosen selections from:

Nigel Warburton, Philosophy: The Basics, London: Routledge, 2013
Bertrand Russell, The Problems of Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997.
David Hume, An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
René Descartes, Meditations on First philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996 (Revised edition).
Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism, New Heaven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007.

Facultative texts

For useful working tools, please refer to: Ted Honderich (ed.), Oxford Companion to Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press 2005; John Hospers, An Introduction to Philosophical Analysis, London: Routledge 2013; Peter S. Fosl and Julian Baggini, The Philosopher's Toolkit: A Compendium of Philosophical Concepts and Methods (Third edition), Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2020.
Type of exam: Mid-course written paper; final oral examination
Assessment methods

Active and engaged participation in the lectures constitutes a fundamental moment of learning and exchange and will be constantly assessed. At mid-course, students will have to propose a short essay (in accordance with the academic writing guidelines that will be recalled at the beginning of the course) on one of the primary bibliography texts. The final examination will be oral and will cover the overall content of the course.
Non-attending students are required to contact the professor to discuss study materials and assessment methods.
Assessment methods will be discussed in detail during the first introductory sessions of the course.
Teaching methods: Lectures, readings, discussion of texts.
Teaching language: English

Accessibility, Disability and Inclusion:
Ca' Foscari abides by Italian Law (Law 17/1999; Law 170/2010) regarding support services and accommodation available to students with disabilities. This includes students with mobility, visual, hearing and other disabilities (Law 17/1999), and specific learning impairments (Law 170/2010). If you have a disability or impairment that requires accommodations (i.e., alternate testing, readers, note takers or interpreters) please contact the Disability and Accessibility Offices in Student Services:
For any specific needs, students are encouraged to contact the professor.

This programme is provisional and there could still be changes in its contents.
Last update of the programme: 23/03/2023