- Code PHIL3079
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by School of Philosophy
- ANU College ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences
- Course subject Philosophy
- Areas of interest Biological Anthropology, Philosophy
- Academic career UGRD
- Prof Kim Sterelny
- Mode of delivery Online or In Person
First Semester 2022
See Future Offerings
A conception of human nature plays a central role in many debates in philosophy, and in the humanities and social sciences more broadly. This course aims to introduce students to evolutionary theories of human nature. We will discuss such issues as (i) whether evolutionary theory undermines the very idea of a fairly fixed and universal human nature; (ii) how and why humans came to be so very different from their great ape relatives; (iii) whether the explanatory toolkit that suffices to explain animal evolution suffices to explain human evolution as well, or whether (for example) the importance of culture to humans changes the rules of the evolutionary game; (iv) the extent to which we can have reasonably reliable knowledge of the human past. Students will engage in interdisciplinary work, analysing and responding to research not just in philosophy but also in relevant empirical disciplines, including archaeology, prehistory, palaeoanthropology, and behavioural economics. The course with not be considering the creation vs evolution controversy; the basic truth of an evolutionary theory of life will be assumed.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- analyse and respond to research not just in philosophy but also relevant empirical disciplines;
- understand and analyse the distinctive empirical challenges posed by historical sciences;
- understand and critically respond to the main claims about the evolution of human nature;
- effectively integrate and organize concepts, information and arguments to defend a position; and
- evaluate philosophical and theoretical ideas verbally and to engage in interactive dialogue.
- Essay 1 (2000 words) (40) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Essay 2 (3000 words) (50) [LO 1,2,3,4]
- Class contribution (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
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130 hours of total student learning time made up from:
a) 36 hours of contact: 24 hours of lectures and 12 hours of tutorials.
b) 94 hours of independent student research, reading and writing
Requisite and Incompatibility
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
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- Unit value:
- 6 units
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