Faculty of Arts

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This unit entry is for students who completed this unit in 2016 only. For students planning to study the unit, please refer to the unit indexes in the the current edition of the Handbook. If you have any queries contact the managing faculty for your course or area of study.

Monash University

6 points, SCA Band 1, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit



Dr Monima Chadha


Not offered in 2016



The subject will examine some major themes in the debate between rationalist and empiricist outlooks, as exemplified in the works of Leibniz and Hume. Hume's Treatise of Human Nature was the culmination of the empiricist tradition in the 18th century. Among the topics Hume discussed were causation, induction, the existence of material objects and their relation to the mind, and the rationality of belief in God. Most of these topics had also been discussed by Leibniz, who approached them from a very different perspective. So it is instructive to look at the work of these two great thinkers in relation to one another.


On completion of the subject students will have gained an understanding of the debates between Rationalist and Empiricist schools in the 17th and 18th centuries, and its influences on the development of philosophical theories in epistemology, metaphysics and philosophy of religion since then. They will have an enhanced capacity for critical and rigorous reading of a philosophical text, and skills in the evaluation of philosophical positions in the context of an integrated system. They will have reflected on contemporary discussions of causation, induction and scepticism and belief in God arising out of the work of Leibniz and Hume. Students completing the subject will develop skills in writing and argument in ways that are responsive to a developing discussion in seminars.


Within semester assessment:70%

Workload requirements

Minimum total expected workload to achieve the learning outcomes for this unit is 144 hours per semester typically comprising a mixture of scheduled learning activities and independent study. A unit requires on average three/four hours of scheduled activities per week. Scheduled activities may include a combination of teacher directed learning, peer directed learning and online engagement.

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)

Off-campus attendance requirements

Off-campus: no timetabled contact hours

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study


Twelve credit points of second-year Arts units. As this is a third-year level unit, it is highly recommended that students only take this unit after they have completed two second-year level units in Philosophy.