30413 - Philosophy Laboratory (1) (G.C)

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Gender equality

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

The student learns to read and critically analyze philosophical texts and to write a philosophical essay.

Course contents

General Information

The Philosophy Workshop has three main purposes: education to philosophical writing and editorial conventions; introduction to the use of bibliographic resources; introduction to how to read a philosophical classic and how to produce a short philosophical essay about it.

The success of workshops ideally requires regular attendance of all students at all meetings. In order to be admitted to the final exam and achieve a pass, students will need to have attended at least 12 out of 15 classes (24 hours out of 30).

Students can choose from several proposals of Philosophy Workshops. Programmes and teachers’ names are available on the website of the First Cycle Degree/Bachelor in Philosophy (corsi.unibo.it/1cycle/Philosophy). Up to 40 students may attend each laboratory. Classes will be given in Italian or in English, as indicated by each teacher on their laboratory web pages.

To enrol in the I or II semester Workshops, students must apply directly to the chosen teacher, by e-mail (please indicate as subject: Philosophy Workshop). Applications will be open from 1 to 15 September 2022. Each teacher will accept up to 40 requests. Excess requests and those submitted after 15 September will be redistributed based on the availability of vacancies.

Attendance — both face-to-face and online, if streaming is activated — will be verified by signature on sign-in sheets or by log-in online. In the light of several unpleasant episodes of signature falsification in recent years, in the event that it is proved that even a single signature has not been made by the corresponding student, that student will be excluded from the final exam and will have to wait until the next year to attend the Workshop again. The same standards will hold for students submitting written exams which are totally or partially copied from published sources or digital texts.

Only in the event of certified inability to attend the Workshop are students allowed to arrange an alternative programme with the relevant teacher of the module in question. Such cases include:

- working students who cannot obtain specific permission to attend the Workshop. Such students must inform the teacher at the beginning of the module and prove by a declaration of their employers their inability to attend.

- Erasmus and Overseas students. Such students must promptly provide documentary evidence to the teacher showing their inability to attend on grounds of residence abroad.

For attending students, assessment will consist in the submission and discussion of a short essay on the philosophical text discussed in the Workshop attended. The essay will be evaluated both for form and for content. During the laboratory, teachers will provide instructions on how to write the final essay, and all students are requested to download and study the manual of philosophical writing, which can be found at corsi.unibo.it/laurea/Filosofia/laboratorio-di-filosofia-norme-per-la-redazione-del-saggio-finale (in Italian).

Philosophy Laboratory (1) (G.C)

This Workshop will focus on the genealogical approach to truth and the virtues of truth championed by Bernard Williams in his Truth and Truthfulness: An Essay in Genealogy.

Bernard Williams (1929-2003) was one of the most influential moral philosophers of the second half of the last century. He taught at Cambridge, Berkeley, and Oxford, conbining the rigour of the analytic tradition with fine classical scholarship and an unhibited curiosity for different philosophical traditions. Truth and Truthfulness is a thorough reflection on the moral cost of the intellectual trend promoted by the thinkers that Williams calls the 'denyers' of truth.  

Please note that classes will be exclusively in-person.


Compulsory reading:

Williams B., Genealogia della verità: Storia e virtù del dire il vero, trad. it. di G. Pellegrino, Fazi, Roma 2005 [the English edition can be freely downloaded from AlmaRE].


Suggested reading:

Dummett M., Verità e passato, trad. it. di E. Paganini, Cortina, Milano 2006, cap. 6.

Elgin C. Z., Williams on Truthfulness, "The Philosophical Quarterly", 55 (2005), pp. 343-352.

Hacking I., 2004. Critical Notice of Truth and Truthfulness. "Canadian Journal of Philosophy" 34/1 (2004), pp. 137-48.

Koopman C., Two Uses of Genealogy: Michel Foucault and Bernard Williams, in Foucault’s Legacy, a cura di C. G. Prado, Continuum, New York 2009, pp. 90-108.

Nagel T., Williams: The Value of Truth, in Secular Philosophy and the Religious Temperament: Essays 2002–2008, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2009, pp. 131-138.

Queloz M., The Practical Origins of Ideas: Genealogy as Conceptual Reverse-Engineering, Oxford University Press, Oxford 2021, spec. capp. 1, 2, 3 e 7.

Teaching methods

After a few introductory classes on the rules of philosophical writing and composition and on the main bibliographical tools for philosophical research, the focus will shift to the analysis and discussion of Williams' book. The teacher will put it in context and introduce its main argumentative moves. Then participants will work in small groups on different aspects of the text and will present them for general discussion.

Classes will be held in the first semester, initially on a weekly and then on a biweekly basis.

Only the introductory classes will be recorded and made available for download on Virtuale. Access is restricted to students enrolled in the workshop.

Please note that classes will be exclusively in-person.

Classes start on Wednesday 28 September.


Assessment methods

Students will be assessed by means of a final written paper (min 12,000 characters, max 15,000 characters, references excluded) to be handed in by e-mail at least 15 days before the exam date.

The exam is meant to assess the achievement of the expected learning outcomes, in particular the acquisition of critical abilities and writing skills. Essays will be assessed on a range of factors, including how well the argument is sustained and use of philosophical written language.

The exam will be passed if the written essay is linguistically and formally correct and displays mastery of philosophical argumentation.

The exam will not be passed if the written essay is linguistially or stilistically flawed and/or does not display mastery of philosophical argumentation.

Teaching tools

The teacher may share with students short bibliographical notes and synopses of the texts to be discussed. The material will be made available for download on Virtuale.

Only the introductory classes will be recorded and made available for download on Virtuale. Access is restricted to students enrolled in the workshop.

Office hours

See the website of Giorgio Volpe