ATS2865 - Language, truth and power - 2017

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



Associate Professor Alison Ross

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2017 (Day)


This unit considers the way authority bearing practices are communicated and experienced. It also looks at the historical and conceptual difficulties involved in identifying and contesting false authority.

The unit will focus primarily on Michel Foucault's writing on these topics. We will start with his treatment of language in The Archaeology of Knowledge, and move on to consider his conception of the relations between truth and power in Discipline and Punish and The History of Sexuality. We will also look at the critical reception and adaptation of Foucault's approach to these issues among contemporaneous commentators (e.g., Noam Chomsky) and more recent scholars (e.g., Beatrice Han-Pile). The unit may also consider the influence Foucault has had on feminist work on the history of philosophy (e.g., Michele Le Doeuff).


Upon successful completion of this unit students will:

  1. understand major developments in social ontology
  2. be able to analyse and critically discuss key texts in the literature
  3. have gained expertise in Speech-Act Theory and the pragmatics of communication, and appreciate their application to topics in social & political philosophy and ethics
  4. demonstrate the capacity to interpret and evaluate important concepts, arguments and texts, as well as to put forward ideas and arguments of their own in a clear and cogent way


Within semester assessment: 60% + Exam: 40%

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)

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


Twelve credit points of first-year Arts units. It is highly recommended that students only take this unit after they have completed two first-year level units in Philosophy.