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Michaelmas Term 2017
Module Outlines
Senior Freshman Single Honours Philosophy

PI2012/PI2013 (Logic & Philosophy of Science) and PI2010/PI2011 (History of Philosophy II) are each made up of two module components with 11 lectures (over five and a half weeks) in each term. There are two lectures per week for each of the two modules. Each module component covers a single coherent theme or topic (e.g. Formal Logic or Kant's Epistemology and Metaphysics) and is usually taught by the same lecturer. PI2014 and PI2015 (Texts I and II) are made up of four module components between them and consist of two hours of lectures per week.

Part of the assessment for each course will be by means of essays, which are marked by the SF teaching assistants. For guidance please consult the list of SF Essay Titles.

The examination for each module takes place at the end of the year, during April and May. The rubric for the examination paper will reflect the components that make up each of the above modules.

PI2012: Formal Logic

Module Outline

This course is an introduction to classical logic aimed at philosophy students. We will make use of formal methods to make the notion of ‘validity’ precise in two systems of logic: propositional logic and predicate logic. We will first learn how to identify the logical form of arguments and then learn how to check their validity. In the case of propositional logic we will make use of truth tables and a tree method. In the case of predicate logic we will make use of some basic model theory and an expanded tree method. Time permitting we will also look at 28 some basic concepts in meta-logic – properties about the logical systems themselves.

In the final part of the course we turn our attention to some issues in philosophical logic, where we employ formal methods to serve philosophical ends. We will look at how logic can aid us in coming to grip with puzzles about vagueness, indeterminacy, identity and existence.

At the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Translate sentences and arguments from English into the languages of propositional and predicate logic.
  • Assign truth conditions to formulas, using truth tables as a semantics for propositional logic and model theory as a semantics for predicate logic.
  • Check the validity of argument forms in propositional and predicate logic using a tree method.
  • Use formal methods in the service of some philosophical ends.

PI2010: History of Philosophy II A

Module Outline

Component 1: Kant (Prof. Lilian Alweiss)

This unit will consider Kantʼs Copernican revolution in epistemology and metaphysics and his distinctive form of idealism. In particularly we shall be focusing on his account of space and time; his account of the relation between a priori and empirical knowledge and his response to scepticism.

The set-text for this unit is:

Immanuel Kant: The Critique of Pure Reason, translated by Kemp Smith, Macmillan.

At the end of this component students will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate central features of Kant’s idealism

Component 2: The Legacy of the Enlightenment
The Phenomenology of Spirit or the Odyssey of Reason
(Prof. Vasilis Politis)

This module introduces you to Hegel’s seminal work The Phenomenology of Spirit. Of particular concern will be Hegel’s critique of Kant and his attempt to complete Kant’s self-professed ‘Copernican Turn’. We endeavour to cover the following themes: 1) why full human self-consciousness cannot be achieved in isolation 2) why the emergence of self-consciousness - and with it philosophy as a reflective discipline - occurs historically and has a socio-political and ethical dimension.

Advice

As with Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, the text difficult to read - you will therefore need guidance. Although you can and, indeed, need to resort to secondary literature, the aim of this module is to gain competence in reading and critically engaging with the primary text in question. For this study it is best to adopt the Spinozist motto: “Smile not, lament not, nor condemn; but understand” (non ridere, non lugere, neque detestari, sed intelligere). The primary text for the course is:

Hegel, G.W.F. The Phenomenology of Spirit [1807] trans. A.V. Miller, OUP 1977

You should buy your own copy of this book, which also includes a useful (though not always accurate) paragraph-by-paragraph synopsis of the argument at the end.

At the end of this component students will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate central features of 19th century European thought

PI2014: Texts I

  • Contact Hours: 22 hours of lecture and 11 hours of tutorial
  • Lecturers: Dr. Kenneth Pearce and Dr. Damien Storey

Module Outline

Component 1: Berkeley's Principles (Dr. Kenneth Pearce)

In this component, we will be reading George Berkeley's first presentation of his immaterialism (idealism), the Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710). Special attention will be paid to the historical context of Berkeley's thought, to the arguments for immaterialism, and to the content of Berkeley's own metaphysical system. In addition to deeper understanding of Berkeley's philosophy, students will hone their skills in close reading of texts and in rigorous philosophical reconstruction and analysis of arguments.

At the end of this component students will be able to:

  • Explain Berkeley's immaterialism.
  • Explain the main arguments for this thesis in the Principles.
  • Engage in close reading of philosophical texts in their historical context.
  • Reconstruct philosophical arguments found in historical texts.
  • Critically analyze philosophical arguments found in historical texts.

Component 2: Rawls's Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (Dr. Damien Storey)

In this course we’ll be reading John Rawls’s last book, Justice as Fairness: A Restatement (2001). Rawls was an immensely influential liberal political philosopher, whose work pretty much set the agenda for modern political philosophy. In this book he ties together the conclusions of his two main works and updates them in light of 30 years of critical discussion: his theory of the basic rights and distributive principles in a just society (A Theory of Justice, 1971), and his theory of how a democracy can legitimately unite citizens divided by a plurality of reasonable but irreconcilable moral, philosophical, and religious views (Political Liberalism, 1993).

Besides getting a grip on the basic ideas of Rawls’s political philosophy, we will be paying special attention to two unique features of Justice as Fairness. First, Rawls offers his final responses to some of his libertarian, socialist, and fellow liberal critics; we will look at the history of some of these debates and assess how successful Rawls has been. Second, in Justice as Fairness Rawls is more explicit about what he thinks a just democracy would look like, and thus about how his theory can be put into practice. We will think about what would change if current democracies became Rawlsian democracies: which of our democratic institutions would need to be overhauled? Could we continue with our current style of free market economy? And how much more egalitarian would it actually be?

At the end of this component students will be able to:

  • Critically analyse and interpret Rawls’s Justice as Fairness.
  • Understand the major themes in Rawls’s political philosophy, with a sense of how they evolved during his career.
  • Engage critically and in detail with some of these themes, with awareness of the broader debates into which they fall.