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Hilary Term 2017
Essay Titles
Junior Sophister Single Honours Philosophy

Students are required to take a total of six modules, to be distributed over two terms.  It is strongly recommended that they take three modules in the first 1st semester/Michaelmas Term and three modules in the second 2nd semester/Hilary Term.
Students are required to submit a total of twelve essays in the year, two for each of the six modules they are taking.   There are four submission dates, two in each term.  By each of these dates, students are required to submit one essay for each module they are currently taking.

Submission Dates

Hilary Term 2017/2nd Semester

HT Week 8 Monday 6th March ’17: each student submits one essay for each module taken in the first part of this term
HT Week 12

Monday 10th April ’17 each student submits one essay for each module taken in the second part of this term

Please Note: Submission date for PI3007 Moral Philosophy is Monday 10th Jan’17.
  • Essays must not exceed 2500 words in length.
  • It is important for students to complete ESSAY COVER SHEETS in FULL when submitting essays to the Department (including Student name, ID number, email address, module, component, and name of your Teaching Assistant). Essay Cover Sheets with these headings are available from the Dept. Office and on the Philosophy webpage.
  • Students are required to submit their essays via Blackboard with a hard copy handed into the Philosophy Department.  SUBMITTING ESSAYS INTO BLACKBOARD ONLY DOES NOT FULFILL THIS REQUIREMENT.
  • Students must not submit more than one essay for a given module component.
  • Students must identify the component for which the essay is being submitted.
  • Essays must be handed in at the philosophy department office (or placed in the essay box nearby) by 2.00 P.M. on the day specified.
  • An essay may be accepted up to one week late with the loss of 10 marks. It will not be accepted after the lapse of one week.
  • Essay extensions, may be requested on medical or ad misericordiam grounds from you programme coordinator but only via your College Tutor. A list of coordinators is available on the Philosophy webpage and on the Junior Freshmen notice board.  Extensions must be arranged prior to the submission date. 
  • Material already assessed in essays may not be used again in examinations.

PI3006:Topics in Analytic Philosophy (Prof. James Levine)

Essay titles first half of the term (before Reading Week)
Paper 1

  1. Frege takes his definition of “the number of F’s” as supporting his view that numbers are “self–subsistent objects”; Russell takes that definition as avoiding an unnecessary metaphysical assumption. Explain and assess this difference between Frege and Russell.


    Frege, G.                     The Foundations of Arithmetics, esp.§1-4, 45–69, 87–89
    Russell, B.                   The Principles of Mathematics, Chapter XI
                                          Our Knowledge of the External World, Chapter VII, and also p. 42, 124–126
    Dummett, M.               Frege: Philosophy of Mathematics, Chapters
    Hale, B. and Wright, C. “Benacerraf’s Dilemma Revisited”, European Journal of Philosophy, 10, 2002, 101–129.
    Wagner, Stephen       “Frege’s Definition of Number”, Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, Vol. 24,1983,
    Levine, J.                     “Analysis and Abstraction Principles in Russell and Frege” (2007) in The Analytic Turn, ed. Beaney, M., 51–74.
  2. Frege takes logicism as establishing that the truths of arithmetic are analytic a priori; Russell takes it as showing that they are synthetic a priori. Explain and assess this difference between Frege and Russell.


    Frege, G.                     The Foundations of Arithmetics, esp.§1-4, 87–91
    Russell, B.                   The Principles of Mathematics, Chapters XI, LII
    Russell, B.                   The Problems of Philosophy, Chapters VII–X
    Kitcher, Philip               “Frege’s Epistemology”, The Philosophical Review, Vol. 88, 1979, pp. 235–262.
    Benacerraf, Paul          “Frege: The Last Logicist” (1981), reprinted in Frege’s Philosophy of Mathematics, ed. Demopoulos, pp. 41–67.
  3. To what extent does the logicist definition of number raise issues regarding what Quine calls “inscrutability of reference”?


    Frege, G.                   The foundations of Arithmetic (1884), especially §§62–69
    Russell, B.                 The Principles of Mathematics, Chapter XI
    Russell, B.                 “Vagueness” (1923)
    Benacerraf, P.            “What Numbers Cannot Be” (1965)
    Quine, W.V.              “Ontological Relativity” (1968)
    McGee, V.                The Many Lives of Ebenezer Wilkes Smith”(2004) “‘Kilimanjaro’” (1997) (esp. 141–7)“Inscrutability and its Discontents” (2005)
    Harmon, G.                An Introduction to ‘Translation and Meaning’: Chapter Two of Word and Object” (1968)
    Quine, W. V.“            Reply to Harman”
  4. Compare and assess how Frege and Russell determine whether or not two sentences express the same propositional content. What considerations favour a more wide-grained way of individuating propositional contents? What considerations favour a more fine-grained approach? Which sort of approach do you favour? Why?


    See readings in handouts. For a defense of a wide-grained approach, see
    Stalnaker, Robert        “Propositions” in Issues in the Philosophy of Language, edited by MacKay and Merrill, 1976, 79-91
    (For a response, see Powers, L. “Comments”, ibid., especially 97–103)
    For a defense of a more fine–grained approach, see
    See also:
    King, Jeffrey                “On Fineness of Grain”, Philosophical Studies, 2013, Vol. 163, No. 3, 763–81.
                                          “Structured Propositions” in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
  5. Explain and assess Frege’s claim that the concept horse is not a concept


    Frege, G.                     “On Concept and Object”
    Russell, B.                   The Principles of Mathematics, §§46–49
    Parsons, T.                   “Why Frege Should not have said ‘the Concept Horse is not a Concept”, History of Philosophy Quarterly, 1986, 449–65.
    Geach, P.                     “Saying and Showing in Frege and Wittgenstein”,
    Noonan, H.                  “The Concept Horse” in Universals, Concepts and
                                          Qualitities, edited by Strawson and Chakrabarti (2006)
    Ricketts, T.                   “Concepts, Objects, and the Context Principle” in The Cambridge Companion to Frege, edited by Ricketts and Potter (2010)
    Wright, C.                    “Why Frege does not deserve his grain of salt” in
                                          Reason’s Nearest Kin (2001), edited by Hale and
    Jolley, Kelly Dean       The Concept ‘Horse’ Paradox and Wittgensteinian Conceptual Investigations (2007)

PI3007: Moral Philosophy (Dr. Ben Bramble)

Essay titles for this module will be available after Reading Week

PI3008: Philosophy of Religion (Prof. Paul O’Grady)

  1. Critically evaluate Aquinas’s account of the relation of faith to reason.
  2. Discuss one of Aquinas’s arguments for God’s existence
  3. What is Aquinas’s response to naturalism?
  4. What is Aquinas’s response to the problem of evil?
  5. Critically evaluate Aquinas’s account of either simplicity, or existence or eternity in God
  6. Critically evaluate Aquinas’s account of either goodness or power or knowledge in God.

Reading material available on Blackboard.

PI3013: Topics in Continental Philosophy (Prof. Lilian Alweiss)

  1. What is logical psychologism and how does Husserl attempt to refute it? Discuss.
  2. Reading: As for Lectures 2,3&4
  3. Husserl believes:
    1. when we think, we necessarily think of something that lies outside of the mind;
    2. we can think of things that exist and that do not exist.
  4. Can Husserl coherently claim a&b namely, that when we think of things that do not exist, we are thinking of something extra-mental? Discuss 
  5. Reading as for Lectures 3,4&5
  6. ‘If we follow a certain line of reasoning about our experience we are led to the conclusion that the object of experience is not part of the world ... However, if we are open to our experience, all we find is the world’ Discuss
  7. Reading as for Lectures: 6,7&8

PI3017: Metaphysics (Dr. James Miller)

    Essay titles first half of the term (before Reading Week)

  1. Is the resemblance solution to the problem of universals persuasive? If not, why not?
  2. Are objects only bundles of properties?
  3. What criteria should we use to identify properties correctly? Why is that criteria preferable to others?
  4. Should we be modal sceptics?
  5. Essay titles second half of the term (before Reading Week)

  6. Is causation reducible to some other notion(s)?
  7. Are laws merely the most simple and strong general claims within our best theories?
  8. Do natural kinds have a real essence?
  9. Should we define metaphysics in a way to rule out questions about notions like gender and race as being ‘metaphysics’?