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Unit information: Knowledge and Reality in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Knowledge and Reality
Unit code PHIL10034
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Karim Thebault
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit will introduce students to some of the central issues and arguments in contemporary metaphysics and epistemology and to some of the key tools used in contemporary analytic philosophy. Topics covered may include universals, causation, modality, the analysis of knowledge, contextualism, ontological commitment, vagueness, supervenience and reduction, and the analysis of definite descriptions.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of the unit students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the key issues and arguments in contemporary metaphysics and epistemology,
  2. Demonstrate an ability to engage critically with these issues and arguments,
  3. Demonstrate familiarity with some key literature on these issues and arguments and to engage critically with this literature,
  4. Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the key tools used in contemporary analytic philosophy and be able to deploy these themselves,
  5. Demonstrate the ability to work collaboratively with others to analyse philosophical ideas and arguments, using the key tools of analytic philosophy, and to work together collaboratively as a group to produce a written report upon the relevant ideas and arguments.

Teaching details

22 x 1 hour lectures

11 x 1 hour seminars

Assessment Details

Formative: 1,000 word essay designed to test ILOs 1-4.

Summative: take home exam (85%) designed to test ILOs 1-4.

Summative: collaborative written report (1000 words) giving a clear and effective summary and explanation of issues and ideas covered in the unit. (15%) Designed to test ILOs 1-5.

Reading and References

Lowe, E.J. A Survey of Metaphysics, OUP, 2002.

Crane, T., and K. Farkas, (eds.) Metaphysics: A Guide and Anthology, OUP, 2004.

Gettier, E., “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” Analysis, 23, 121–123, 1963.

Steup, M., and E. Sosa, (eds.), Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, Blackwell, 2005.