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PI7105 Berkeley and Idealism (Not offered in 2019/20)


  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Semester/Term Taught: Hilary Term
  • Contact Hours: 11 x 2-hour seminars; 4 supervision hours; 174 hours of independent study
  • Module Personnel: Dr Kenneth Pearce

Module Content

This module explores the key philosophical contributions of Ireland’s greatest philosopher, George Berkeley. Starting with an exploration of the Lockean background and his immediate environment in TCD, the course focusses on his two great works, The Principles of Human Knowledge and Three Dialogues. Among the topics are Berkeley’s rejection of abstractionism, his empiricism, his master argument for idealism, his ontology, his account of God, his account of physical science.

Learning Outcomes

The aim of this module is to provide students with subject specific knowledge and to equip them with the necessary skills for independent research. On successful completion of this module, students should be able to:

  • Situate Berkeley in his intellectual context
  • Critically assess his empiricism
  • Evaluate the viability of his master argument for idealism
  • Assess his instrumentalist account of science
  • Critically engage with competing interpretations of Berkeley’s work

Assessment Details

The basis for the assessment of this module will consist of  one written essay of 3000 words. Students must attach a cover sheet to all Philosophy essays.

The word count includes footnotes but it does not include the bibliography. Essays that go over the limit will be liable for a 5 mark deduction.

Students may request an extension by contacting the MPhil Coordinator Dr Kenneth Pearce (Michaelmas term) and the MPhil Coordinator Dr Ben White (Hilary term).

Recommended Reading List

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.