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Hilary Term 2017
Essay Titles
Senior Freshman Single Honours Philosophy

SHP students must submit a total of EIGHT essays and TWO logic tests as follows:
PI2010 + PI2011 History of Philosophy II A /B:  3 essays
PI2012 Logic:  2 tests
PI2013 Philosophy of Science: 1 essay
PI2014 Texts I: 2 essays (to be submitted in Michaelmas Term)
                            Broad Curriculum Module/Hilary Term               
PI2015 Texts II: Broad Curriculum Module/Michaelmas Term
                            2 essays (to be submitted in Hilary Term)

  • Essays must not exceed 1500 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.

Submission Dates
For material covered in Hilary Term 2017/2nd Semester

Weeks 1 - 7 No essays
Week 8

Monday 6th March’17, TWO essays due:

  • PI2011 History of Philosophy II B, Component 1 (Modern Analytic Philosophy Part 1)
  • PI2015 Texts II Component 1 (Henry Sidgwick’s Methods of Ethics)
Weeks 9 - 12No Essays
Week 13

Monday 10th April’17, THREE essays due:

  • PI2011 History of Philosophy II B, Component 2 (Modern Analytic Philosophy Part 2)
  • PI2013 Philosophy of Science EITHER Component 1 (Philosophy Science) OR Component 2 (Philosophy of Language)

PI2011: History of Philosophy II a

Component 1 (Modern Analytic Philosophy, Part 1) Prof. James Levine

  1. Consider ONE of the following philosophers: Russell, Ayer, and Quine. Explain as carefully as you can that philosopher’s argument for his view of a priori knowledge, and assess that argument.


    Russell, B.       The Problems of Philosophy, Chapters 7-10
    Ayer, A.J.        Language, Truth and Logic, Chapter IV
    Quine,               W.V."Two Dogmas of Empiricism" in his From a Logical Point of View
    Putnam, H.       "'Two Dogmas' Revisited" in his Realism and
    Bounjour, L.     A Defense of Pure Reason
  2. To what extent, if any, is philosophy distinct from science, with a method of its own? Address this issue by comparing the views of Russell and the early Wittgenstein.


    Russell, B.       "On the Scientific Method in Philosophy", in hisMysticism and Logic
    Russell, B.       "Mathematics and the Metaphysicians", in his Mysticism and Logic
    Russell, B.       The Problems of Philosophy, Chapters14-15
    Wittgenstein, L.Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, especially Preface, 4.1-
                              4.2, 6.4-7
    Wittgenstein, L."Lecture on Ethics" in his Philosophical Occasions
    Ryle, G.           "Ludwig Wittgenstein" in his Collected Papers, Vol. I
    Mounce, H.O.  Wittgenstein's Tractatus, esp. Chapter 11
  3. Explain and assess either how the early Wittgenstein or the logical positivists hold that metaphysics is meaningless. Does the view you are considering succeed in eliminating metaphysics without assuming their own metaphysics?


    Early Wittgenstein
    Wittgenstein, L.
                              Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, especially Preface, 2.1–3  4.1-4.2, 6.4-7
    Diamond, C.    The Realistic Spirit, Chapter 6 "Throwing Away the Ladder"
    Kremer, M.       “The Purpose of Tractarian Nonsense”, Nous, 2001,
                              pp. 39–73
    Hacker, P.M.S.
                              “Was he Trying to Whistle it?” in The New Wittgenstein, edited by Crary and Read Logical Positivists
    Ayer, A.J.        Language, Truth and Logic, Chapters I and II
    Carnap, R.       "The Elimination of Metaphysics through the Analysis of Language" in Logical Positivism, edited by Ayer
    Schlick, M.        "Positivism and Realism" in Logical Positivism
    Carnap, R.       "On the Character of Philosophical Problems" reprinted in The Linguistic Turn, ed. by Richard Rorty
    Williams, M."    The Elimination of Metaphysics" in Fact, Science and Morality, edited by G.MacDonald and C. Wright

Component 2 (Modern Analytic Philosophy, Part 2) Dr. James Miller

(Primary readings for each question can be found in the Module Outline, and additional reading in the reading list)
  1. Are philosophical questions best answered through an analysis of the ordinary uses of the terms used in those questions?
  2. “Pragmatism is a method for settling metaphysical disputes that might otherwise be interminable.”  Why does the pragmatist think this, and do you agree?
  3. Do the advances that occurred in modal logic show that we have moved ‘beyond the linguistic turn?  Do these advances justify a substantive notion of metaphysics?

PI2013: Philosophy of Science

Component 1 (Philosophy of Science) Dr. Sean Power

  1. What is naïve inductivism?  What is at least one advantage and at least one disadvantage of the theory?  What is the best way to overcome the disadvantages?
  2. Does falsification work as an account of the scientific method?  Does it work as a means of acquiring knowledge about the world?
  3. Does science progress?
  4. Are electrons real?

Component 2 (Philosophy of Language) Dr. Sean Power

  1. How do ‘use’ theories claim to answer the challenges of meaning?  Do they work?
  2. According to its defenders and critics, what is a significant advantage and a significant disadvantage of verificationism?  Evaluate and discuss with respect to both the advantage and the disadvantage.
  3. When we speak metaphorically, what meaning do we grasp?
  4. Is ‘God is dead’ a meaningless statement?  Respond through discussion of the course literature.


PI2015: Texts II

Component 1 (Henry Sidgwick’s Methods of Ethics) Dr. Ben Bramble

  1. Explain the distinct topics of “the good”, “reasons for action”, and “morality”. How might these be related conceptually? Which is Sidgwick primarily interested in? Justify your answer.
  2. Explain perceptional and dogmatic intuitionism. Why does Sidgwick reject these? Assess his criticisms.
  3. What is The Profoundest Problem, according to Sidgwick? How might it be resolved?

Component 2 (Bertrand Russell, The Analysis of Mind) Prof. James Levine

  1. Critically compare Russell’s account of “the thought of an object” before The Analysis of Mind and in The Analysis of Mind.
  2. Critically discuss Russell’s view of behaviorism in The Analysis of Mind.
  3. Explain and assess Russell’s account of belief in The Analysis of Mind.
  4. Explain and assess Russell’s account of memory in The Analysis of Mind.