- Code PHIL3063
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by School of Philosophy
- ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
- Course subject Philosophy
- Areas of interest Philosophy
- Academic career UGRD
- Mode of delivery In Person
“Individuals, Societies & Cultures”
The course centres on two themes. The first concerns the relationship between individual agents and the cultures to which they belong. Does the actions of agents make cultures and societies what they are, or, instead are agents constructed by the societies in which they live? The second theme is methodological. How do we explain the actions of humans and groups of humans? Are the human sciences like anthropology or history distinct in critical ways from the natural sciences? To a considerable extent we shall consider these issues through an evolutionary lens. For we shall ask whether the richly co-operative life of humans could evolve through, and be maintained by, individual agents pursuing their own interests. The course begins by setting up the central problems of the course through a contrast between human and chimp social life. The tools of the individualist approach are then introduced, and their adequacy tested in the light of human co-operation and human culture.
The course will be open to second and third year students in philosophy or students with a strong background in the social sciences, with the permission of the lecturer.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
Upon successful completion of this course, students will be able to:
- Understand the problem of explaining the uniquely co-operative nature of human and cultural life, and other striking features of human social evolution;
- Understand the basic structure of ideas of methodological individualism and the critical responses to it; and
- Evaluate some of the methodological debates that surround explanation in the social sciences.
2 X 2000 word essays, each 50% [addresses Learning Outcomes 1, 2 and 3]
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2 x 2-hour lecture-seminars per week (no tutorials).
Students will be expected to spend an average of 6 hours per week outside these contact hours to prepare for tutorials and to research and write the research essay.
Requisite and Incompatibility
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- Student Contribution Band:
- Unit value:
- 6 units
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