Epistemology

A.Y. 2021/2022
9
Max ECTS
60
Overall hours
SSD
M-FIL/01
Language
Italian
Learning objectives
The course has the goal to discuss in depth problems in the general area of theoretical philosophy and philosophical anthropology. It focuses on questions concerning the nature of human experience and the constitution of subjectivity, stressing the connections with other disciplines (anthropology, psychology, sociology, biology, etc) and helping students to develop their analytical skills and recognize the connections between philosophical research and the current cultural context.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course, the student:
· knows the theoretical fundamentals of contemporary philosophy and understands its vocabulary;
· understands the nature of philosophical problems;
· understands the nature and strength of philosophical arguments;
· knows the basic methodological elements of philosophical exercise.

Ability to apply knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course, the student:
· is able to put forward and outline the main conceptual contributions of theoretical philosophy
· is able to identify philosophical topics and problems in philosophical and non-philosophical contexts;
· can approach general issues by adopting the appropriate methodological perspectives and discuss the arguments of various authors making use of an adequate lexicon.
· can consistently support her /his claims with arguments
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Responsible
Lesson period
Second semester
Course syllabus
The class focuses on morality and religion and discusses the consequences that various scientific results should have on our beliefs in these areas.
In the first part of the class (6 CFU) we will discuss evolutionary debunking arguments against moral realism. We will start by clarifying the problem of the nature of morality. After that, we will turn to various models of the evolution of pro-social behavior, which we will then modify in order to account for our moral beliefs, too. We will then turn to evaluate the project of the evolutionary debunkers. Finally, we will discuss some existential issues raised by moral anti-realism.
In the second part of the class (3 CFU) we will focus on various versions of the design argument for the existence of God. We will start by introducing some tools from probability theory. Then we will discuss the classical version of the design argument, the fine-tuning argument, and finally the idea that one can argue for the existence of God on the basis of the value of the sex ratio in our species.
Prerequisites for admission
There are no requirements other than those to access the program.
Teaching methods
Lectures and short in-class exercises to familiarize with the more technical tools.
Teaching Resources
Materials for the class' first part
- Richard Joyce, The Evolution of Morality, MIT Press, introduction, chapters 1 and 4, and § 6.1.
- Elliott Sober, Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards?, Prometheus Books, chapter 2.
- Sharon Street, A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of Value, Philosophical Studies 127 (1), §§ 1-6, 8 and 10-11.
- The lectures of the first part of the class.

Materials for the class' second part
- Elliott Sober, The Design Argument, Cambridge University Press.
- Elliott Sober, Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards?, Prometheus Books, chapters 3-4.
- The lectures of the second part of the class.

There are no supplementary readings for non-attending students, who are just required to listen to the lectures' recordings, which will be available at the end of the semester on the instructor's website.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The 9 CFU exam is oral and it is divided in two sections. The first section is worth 75% of the grade, while the second section accounts for the remaining 25%.
The first section's goal is to assess knowledge and understanding of the material. The section is constituted by 6 questions, 4 on the first part of the class and 2 on the second part. The questions are precise and require precise answers, as well as an exact use of the terminology. In order to help students prepare this first section of the exam, at the end of the semester a study guide will be published on the instructor's website.
The exam's second section consists in a discussion of one or more excerpts from the readings. The goal of this discussion is not only that of assessing knowledge and understanding of the readings, but also that of evaluating the student's ability to build a general picture, develop a reasoned view of the topics discussed in class, and logically organize their exposition.
The 6 CFU exam is analogous to the 9 CFU one. The only differences are that (1) the first section of the exam is constituted only by the four questions on the first part of the class and (2) the excerpts for the second section all come from the readings for the class' first part.
Students with DSA and/or disabilities should get in touch with the instructor and the relevant office as soon as possible to discuss possible changes to the exam's format.
Unita' didattica A
M-FIL/01 - THEORETICAL PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica B
M-FIL/01 - THEORETICAL PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unita' didattica C
M-FIL/01 - THEORETICAL PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Professor(s)
Reception:
Thursday 12:30-15:30, but send an e-mail first to set up an appointment
Via Skype (andrea.guardo.26)