Metaphysics

  • Studies the nature of being; the makeup, working and organization of reality in general.  Often looks at aspects of being that cannot be observed and measured, such as God and virtue
  • Basic questions include: What is being?  What are its fundamental features and properties?

Logic & the Philosophy of Science

  • Logic deals with the formal properties of arguments and the philosophical problems associated with them. Central questions in logic include: What is a good argument? How can we work out if an argument is good or not? What are paradoxes? Can they be resolved? How can we talk meaningfully about objects that don’t exist, e.g. unicorns?
  • The philosophy of science analyses the nature and results of scientific inquiry. Central questions include: Do scientist describe reality or just appearances? Can we have good reason to believe in the existence of unobservable entities (e.g. quarks)? What happens when one scientific theory replaces an older theory?

Epistemology

  • The study of knowing & knowledge
  • Key questions include: What is knowledge?  Is knowledge possible?

Ethics

  • The study of moral and social behaviour & judgements.
  • Key questions include: What moral judgements are correct?  What is right or wrong?  Do the intentions behind an action determine its goodness or does the outcome of the action?  Are there any universal ethical rules?  How should people act?

Social & Political Philosophy

  • Social philosophy is the study of society and its institutions.  The key question is what are the features of the ideal or best society?
  • Political philosophy focuses on one institution: the state, and seeks to determine its justification and proper organization.  It looks at concepts such as freedom, justice, and rights.  Key questions include: Is democracy the best form of government? How can we balance rights and responsibilities?

Aesthetics

  • Deals with beauty and art and value judgments about both. Central questions in aesthetics include: What is art? What kinds of objects possess aesthetic value? Is aesthetic experience rational or emotional? What is the relationship between an artist, their artwork and the critics?

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