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This course outline contains extremely important information, including details about the DP and plagiarism policies. In the event that these policies are breached, ignorance of them will not constitute a defence.

This is an introduction to some of the most intellectually provocative topics of historical and contemporary philosophy. We discuss a wide variety of philosophical questions, and indeed answers. For examples, each student will ask themselves: What am I? Am I just consciousness? Am I fundamentally just a human being? Am I a spirit or mind? Do I even have any existence as an individual? And is it possible for me to survive death? Other central questions will be: What is knowledge and do we have any? Is there a God? If God exists, then how could we have free will? And how could we have free will, even if God does not exist?

Aims of the Course

As a result of taking this course, you will:

  • Acquire a deeper and clearer understanding of some central philosophical questions;

  • Grasp the concepts and gain the philosophical skills required for achieving that understanding;

  • Be able to defend your philosophical opinions with reasoned arguments;

  • Be able to explain some of the important views and arguments of other philosophers;

  • Improve your ability to actually do philosophy, verbally and in writing, by critical thinking and reasoning;

  • Improve your skill in reading difficult philosophical texts; and

  • Improve your general skill in critical thinking and analysis.

Course Website

We will be using the Vula website ( throughout the course to provide additional information, lecture notes, updates and resources. Please check this site regularly.

  • Go to the website:

  • Log in with your student number and password.

  • Click on the course tab.

Please note: The email address that Vula has on file for you is automatically your UCT student email address. If you are unlikely to check this address regularly, you MUST change your Vula details. To change your address, login to Vula, click “My Workspace”, then “My Profile” in the list on the left, then click on “Edit my Profile” at the top of that screen.

Lectures and Tutorials

  1. Lecture Times and Venue

Mondays, Tuesday, and Wednesdays: 12h00 to 12h45 in Beattie Lecture Theatre.

  1. Registering for a Tutorial Group

Tutorials will be held on Thursdays and Fridays. The first tutorials for the course will be in the week starting on Monday 23 February. Students are required to register for one tutorial group (on either Thursday or Friday) and to do so as soon as possible but not later than Friday 20 February at 10h00. (Note: Tutorials at popular times tend to be filled very quickly and student places in tutorials are allocated on a first come first serve basis.)

  • Go to the Vula website:

  • Sign in using your student number and password.

  • Click on the PHI1024F, 2015 tab.

  • Click on 'Tut sign up'.

  • Click on 'join' next to the tutorial you want to join.

If you have persistent problems trying to sign up for a tutorial then please go to the Philosophy Reception.

  1. Late Fees

Before Friday 20 February at 10h00, you will be able to register or change your tutorial group via Vula, assuming that there is an opening in the group you want to be in. Any additions or changes beyond this date will have to be made via the departmental office at a cost of R30.


Your final mark for the whole semester will be based on the following:

  • Coursework -- 40%

  • Final Exam -- 60%

  1. Final Exam

The exam takes place in the official examination period at the end of the course, and lasts for three hours. It combines essay questions with short-answer questions. More details of the exam structure will be provided in due course.

  1. Coursework

The coursework mark is determined by your performance in a course test and two essays submitted during the course:

  • Coursework -- 40%

    • Class test 10%

    • First essay 15%

    • Second essay 15%

Class Test

The class test will take place during your third tutorial session, i.e. week beginning 9 March. It will test your understanding of the philosophical methods, concepts and arguments discussed in the first three weeks of lectures (February 16 through March 6). You’ll have 40 minutes to complete the test. More information about the test will be provided in lectures before February 25.

First Essay and Second Essay

Essay questions will be posted on Vula in due course. Your essays should be strictly 1500- 2000 words in length. Please read the guidelines on writing a philosophy essay and on avoiding plagiarism in Professor Benatar’s STUDENT’S GUIDE TO PHILOSOPHY COURSES (available online here:

Students who have difficulty writing essays are encouraged to make use of UCT’s Writing Centre, details about which can be found here: You are strongly encouraged to make use of this free service provided by the University especially if you are not a first-language English speaker.

Marking Criteria for Essays

Details of the Philosophy Department’s marking criteria can be found at the following address:

Deadlines and Submission Policies

  1. Deadlines

Dates for the class test, plagiarism certificate (see below under PLAGIARISM), and essays are:

  • The plagiarism certificate is due by 16h00 on Wednesday 18 March in the Philosophy drop box outside the Philosophy Reception.

  • The class test will take place on March 12 or 13, in your tutorial.

  • The first essay is due by 10h00 on Friday 27 March.

  • The second essay is due by 10h00 on Thursday 23 April.

  1. Late Penalty

The time at which you submit your essay will be determined by the time at which your hard copy arrives at the Philosophy Department. If your essay is handed in on the due day, but after the stipulated time of the deadline, it will be penalised by 3%. For every further day that your essay is handed in late, it will be penalised by an extra 3%. Also note that handing in an essay after 4:00pm on a given day will be regarded as handing it in the next day. Essays submitted more than 5 days late will not be marked.

  1. Extension Policy

You have been made aware of the deadlines for the course and you need to plan accordingly. Emergencies do sometimes happen, and you may need to request an extension for one of the essay deadlines. To do this, complete an extension request form at the Philosophy Reception. You will be advised of the decision via the email address you provide on the extension form.

Note: extensions are granted only in exceptional circumstances, such as unforeseen tragedy or illness (accompanied by an original medical certificate, not a copy). ‘Too much work from other courses’, or ‘I have had my first Springbok call-up for just that weekend’, or ‘it has taken me some time to find my feet in the course’ will not be accepted as a reason for the extension.

  1. Submissions Policy And How to Submit Your Essays

UCT uses anti-plagiarism software, and we thus require all students to submit two copies of their essays: one hardcopy and one electronic copy. No essay will be marked until both the hardcopy and electronic copy are submitted and both of these should be submitted by the stipulated deadline.

  • Submit an electronic copy of the essay using the “Assignments” option on Vula.

  • Print out your essay.

  • Print out and fully complete a cover sheet and plagiarism declaration (available on Vula under “Resources”).

  • Staple all these together and submit this by the due date in the essay drop box outside the Philosophy Reception.

N.B. Essays that are not submitted in this manner will not be accepted. We also strongly prefer essays to be printed double-sided.

Duly Performed (DP)

The DP requirements in this course are taken very seriously.

Students are responsible for indicating their presence in tutorials by signing the register. Duly Performed will not be granted to those students who fail to fulfil DP requirements without providing prompt and adequate explanation to their tutor.

  1. DP Requirements

If you are not granted DP, then you do not qualify to write the exam. In that case you cannot pass the course this semester and you need to take the whole course again if you wish to pass it in the future. The DP requirements are:

  1. Writing the class test and submitting (in the manner prescribed above) both coursework essays on time.

  2. Receiving an average mark of at least 35% for the coursework.

  3. Completing the online plagiarism test and submitting the plagiarism certificate that you receive, on time (see below under PLAGIARISM).

  4. Attending all your tutorials. (Except where you have a valid reason for missing one, which is rare. In this case see also the information below about excusing absence.)

  1. For students on the Philosophy Plus Programme: attendance at Philosophy Plus seminars and handing in any Philosophy Plus assignments are also DP requirements. (See below for more information on PHILOSOPHY PLUS.)

If you miss any of the DP requirements due to an emergency or other valid circumstantial reason, then you should explain the reasons to your tutor or lecturer as soon as possible. If you do not do so, then you may not be regarded as having met the DP requirements.

  1. Excusing Absence

Prompt and adequate explanation should be provided for any absences from your assigned tutorial. For a limited absence (a “one-off”) from a tutorial, send an email to your tutor and copy this to and In the email, state the dates that you will be/have been absent and the reason for this. If you can attend a different tutorial in that week, please ask that tutor for permission to do a one-off make-up tut in their tutorial class.

For longer or repeated absences, speak to your tutor in person in addition to submitting an original medical certificate, in case of illness, or other written explanation to the Philosophy Department reception. (These certificates should not be given to the tutors.)

  1. Querying DPR (“DPR” stands for Duly Performed Certificate Refused)

Think ahead. Meet your DP requirements if getting DP is important to you. Queries are only accepted from those who believe that an error has been made in refusing them DP.

  • Visit the Philosophy secretary during office hours.

  • Request a DPR query form.

  • Return the completed form to the secretary and pay the R30 processing fee.


  • You will not be given DP if no error has been made in the original decision to refuse your DP.

  • If we find an error and your DPR is changed to DP, your R30 will be reimbursed.

  • No appeals will be accepted via phone, email or in person. All appeals must be on the prescribed form.


To plagiarise is to use another person’s work or ideas while presenting them as one’s own. This misrepresentation may take a number of forms, including quoting without acknowledgement or submitting work done by somebody else. Any student caught plagiarising will be reported to the appropriate University authorities. According to UCT policy, “cases of plagiarism ‘must be referred to the Vice-Chancellor or nominee for possible disciplinary action in terms of the rules on disciplinary jurisdiction and procedures (DJP1.1). If the matter is referred, then if the plagiarism is substantial, the Registrar has indicated that, unless there are unusual circumstances, the prosecution will ask for your expulsion.’

Details of what constitutes plagiarism can be found in Professor Benatar’s STUDENT’S GUIDE TO PHILOSOPHY COURSES, a hardcopy of which is available for each student.

Compulsory Plagiarism Test

Since some plagiarisers plagiarise unwittingly, we require students to have a plagiarism avoidance certificate, gained by passing an online test. A certificate proving that you have passed the test is due by 16h00 on Wednesday 18 March in the Philosophy drop box outside the Philosophy Reception (see above). The drop box is open now should you wish to get it out of your way! To prepare for the plagiarism test and to take the test:

  • Go to: and read all of the information on this page about ‘How To Recognize Plagiarism’. (Before you take the test, if you need to then you should follow one or more of the links on this page in order to gain a truly excellent understanding of plagiarism. Do not waste your time by repeatedly failing the test when you do not have an extremely good understanding of plagiarism and how to avoid it.)

  • When you are ready to attempt the test, select the option ‘I AM AN UNDERGRADUATE COLLEGE STUDENT’.

Answer the ten questions on the next page. Then click ‘EVALUATE MY ANSWERS’.

If you fail the test, then you probably need to improve your understanding of plagiarism. Repeat the above steps once you are ready to retake the test. You will be asked ten new questions. If you are still unsuccessful after many attempts and a sincere effort to pass, then speak to your tutor for help. When you have successfully completed the test, you will receive the certificate. This certificate is to be submitted by 16h00 on Wednesday 18 March in the marked Philosophy drop box, outside reception. Your class test will not be marked if you have not submitted a plagiarism certificate.

Points of Contact

  • Website:

  • Departmental Office:

Lara Davison, Humanities 3.03, phone: 021-650-3316,

Liz Gubb, Humanities 3.03, phone: 021-650-3316,

  • Tutors

Lienkie Diedericks

Ashleigh Henderson

Anthony Hodgson

Jessica Lee

Delphine Pedeboy

Caitlin Spring

Markus Trengove

Rehan Visser

Please learn your tutor’s name. This will be important, for instance, because sometimes you will be required to write their name on a test booklet after you write a test or exam.

  • Course Convener and Lecturer:

Dr Dean Chapman, Humanities 3.07,, Office Hours: TBD.

Email me if you wish to make an appointment outside of office hours. (Please include some possible times in the email.)

  • Whom to contact when:

  • Most information can be found on Vula.

  • Collection and submission of materials is via the Philosophy Department Reception, Humanities 3.03. Accounting for your attendance or inattendance at tutorials, asking for feedback on your coursework and comments on lectures should be directed to your tutor; but medical certificates or other documents explaining absences from tutorials should be submitted to the Philosophy Reception.

  • Requesting extensions is via the departmental Philosophy Reception.

  • Comments about the quality of tutorials, DP queries and any issue not dealt with having first taken the other routes should be directed to the Course Convenor, Dean Chapman.

Philosophy Plus

To support students who may be struggling with Philosophy, we shall be running the Philosophy Plus programme in this course. The Philosophy Plus programme is free of additional charge and open to all who take PHI1024F. Students in the programme will receive an additional tutorial each week, except the first two weeks of the semester. (This tutorial is in addition to the regular weekly one, not in place of it.)

All PHI1024F students, please note:

  1. Extended degree programme (EDP) students must sign up and participate in Philosophy Plus;

  2. Students who previously failed Introduction to Philosophy are particularly encouraged to enrol;

  3. Students who struggled with or failed any previous Philosophy course are particularly encouraged to enrol;

  4. Students who wish to enrol must fill in a Philosophy Plus registration form at the Philosophy Department Reception by Wednesday 25 February at 10h00;

  5. Attendance at the Philosophy Plus tutorial is a DP requirement for EDP students and for all other Philosophy Plus students.

Xhosa for Philosophers

All Introduction to Philosophy students are invited for the Masithethe isiXhosa course offered by the Multilingualism Education Project (MEP). The course covers basic essential Xhosa conversation skills. It will also provide students with basic knowledge of a Xhosa worldview, philosophy, and culture. Students will find there to be illuminating philosophical connections between Xhosa for Philosophers and our PHI1024F module on personal identity and the afterlife. This free course will meet weekly, on Mondays, 13h00-13h45, for twelve sessions from March to May. All are welcome; but you must register by 26 February 2015. To register please (1) DOWNLOAD THE REGISTRATION FORM FROM THE RESOURCES FOLDER ON THE VULA INTRODUCTION TO PHILOSOPHY WEBSITE; (2) COMPLETE THE FORM AND SUBMIT IT BY EMAIL TO NOLUBABALO TYAM (NOLUBABALO.TYAM@UCT.AC.ZA). For further information contact Nolubabalo Tyam, CHED Room 6.10.1. Hoerikwaggo Building; Phone: 021 650 5567.

Course Readings

The course textbook is Simon Blackburn’s Think, New York: Oxford University Press, 1999. You need to buy this from one of the three bookstores listed below. Also collect a course reader and your copy of Prof Benatar’s FIRST AID TO PHILOSOPHY from the Philosophy Department Reception, Humanities 3.03.

  1. Juta (2) Van Schaik (3) Protea

On campus 26 Main Road 51-81 Main Road

next to the food court. Rondebosch “Rondebosch on Main” Centre

Due dates for completing the relevant reading will be announced in lectures. Reading ahead is fine, but not at the expense of reading very carefully and critically.

Readings Organised by Topic

  1. Introduction

Course Outline; and Benatar, D., A First Aid to Philosophy: A Student’s Guide To Philosophy Courses; and

Blackburn, S., Think, ‘Introduction’; and

Pryor, J., ‘Philosophical Terms and Methods’ (in your course reader).

  1. The “Evil Demon” Sceptical Argument

Blackburn, Think, Chapter 1, especially pp. 15-28; and

Descartes, ‘First Meditation ‘.

  1. Descartes’ Theological Response to the Sceptical Argument

Think, Chapter 1, especially pp. 19-40; and

Descartes, ‘Second Meditation’, especially pp. 16-19.

  1. Other Arguments for the Existence of God

Think, Chapter 5, especially pp. 152-168; and

Saint Anselm, ‘The Ontological Argument’, especially pp. 42-43, i.e. Chapter II; and

Saint Aquinas, ‘The Existence of God’, especially ‘the second way’ on p. 45.

  1. Arguments Against the Existence of God

Think, Chapter 5, especially pp. 168-76; and

Saint Aquinas, ‘The Existence of God’, Objection 1, pp. 44, and Reply to the First Objection, p. 46.

  1. What Are We? – The Cartesian Answer

Think, Chapter 4; and

Also revisit Think, Chapter 1, pp. 28-32, and Descartes, R., ‘Second Meditation’.

  1. Against Cartesianism – Countess Elisabeth and Other Objections

Elisabeth, ‘The Correspondence’, p. 36 in your reader, only up to p. 42 in your reader; and

Think, Chapter 2, especially up to p. 72.

  1. What Are We? – The Animalist Answer

Think, Chapter 4.

  1. What Are We? – John Locke

Think, Chapter 4; and

Reid, ‘Of Mr. Locke’s Account of Personal identity’.

  1. Personal Identity and Life After Death –- Mark Johnston

Luper, S., ‘Review of Mark Johnston’s Surviving Death’.

Johnston, M., Surviving Death, excerpts in your course reader.

Murphy, N., ‘Do Humans Have Souls?’

  1. Paradoxes of Free Will

Elisabeth, ‘The Correspondence’, last paragraph of p. 125, till middle of 126; and also read the last full par. on p. 127;

Think, Chapter 3; and

Van Inwagen, ‘The Mystery of Metaphysical Freedom’; and

Stace, ‘The Problem of Free Will’.

This outline is subject to change. Students are responsible for knowing about changes announced during class or on vula or by email to your designated email address (see above under COURSE WEBSITE.)

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