What Is Truth?
Questions into the nature of truth are often puzzling because, on the one hand, the question is expected to have a definitive answer of the kind, ‘truth is x’. On the other hand, despite hundreds of years of looking, no perfect answer has ever been found. Philosophers have committed to answers such as ‘correspondence with the facts’, or ‘system coherence’, or ‘practical utility’, or simply ‘general consensus’.
Only, all turned out to be defective in one way or another. All were subject to counterexamples or found to be circular. Should we make do with a deflated or minimalist notion of truth, or opt for truth pluralism or even relativism tout court? Can we salvage truth in an era of global connectivity, social media and fake news? This course will shine a light on truth by studying the philosophical angles already taken and any new avenues still to be explored.
Courses starts: 22 Jan 2020
Week 1: Truth and truthfulness
Week 2: Truth as correspondence
Week 3: Truth as coherence
Week 4: Pragmatism about truth
Week 5: Relativism and scepticism
Week 6: Realism and anti-realism
Week 7: Truth pluralism
Week 8: Deflationism
Week 9: Truth manipulation and 'alternative facts'
Week 10: What then is truth?
All weekly class students may become borrowing members of the Rewley House Continuing Education Library for the duration of their course. Prospective students whose courses have not yet started are welcome to use the Library for reference. More information can be found on the Library website.
There is a Guide for Weekly Class students which will give you further information.
Availability of titles on the reading list (below) can be checked on SOLO, the library catalogue.
If you are planning to purchase books, remember that courses with too few students enrolled will be cancelled. The Department accepts no responsibility for books bought in anticipation of a course.
Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.
To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.
Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.
Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from between January 1st and July 31st after the current academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.
Course Fee: £215.00
Take this course for CATS points: £10.00
Julia has taught philosophy at the Universities of Reading and Southampton before joining the OUDCE as a tutor in 2014. Her teaching focus, very broadly, is on aspects in epistemology and metaphysics.
To gain an understanding of the key themes in the study of truth, and related problems and concerns.
(i) become familiar with the central issues that preoccupy the philosophy of knowledge and truth
(ii) examine and evaluate substantial theories of truth as well as truth relativism
(iii) read and discuss the relevant literature on truth and relativism
Interactive lectures supported by powerpoint presentation and extensive handout. Students will be asked to read relevant chapters and papers each week in advance of the lecture.
- to be able to understand and describe the main philosophical issues concerning truth and relativism
- to articulate the main distinctions and ideas that these issues trade upon
- to develop a position of your own and constructively evaluate the positions that have been explored
Option A. Assessment will be by means of three mini essays of 500 words each.
Option B. Assessment will be by means of a single project equating to an essay of 1,500 words. It is recommended to submit a plan, set of notes, or first draft of the assignment before the end of the course.
Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form.
To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.
Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.
Level and demands
No prior knowledge or previous experience in philosophy are required or assumed, though it will enable students to engage more fully in class discussion. The course will appeal in particular to those who enjoy wrestling with problems in analytical philosophy.
Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support