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Junior Sophister Philosophy, Political Science, Economics, and Sociology
Module Outlines
Hilary Term 2019

Each module usually consists of two hours of lectures or seminars per week over the semester. PPES students usually take four modules each year (one at 5 ECTS and one at 10 ECTS in each term), for a total of 30 ECTS. Students opting for a Single Honors Degree Pathway in Philosophy must take two 10 ECTS modules per term, for a total of 40 ECTS of Philosophy modules. Students select their modules by submitting a module choice form to the PPES Course Administrator in the School Office.

Part of the assessment for each module will be by means of essays that are marked by the module lecturer. Students submit one essay for 5 ECTS modules, and two essays for 10 ECTS modules. For guidance please consult the list of JS essay titles, distributed to students during the semester.

The examination for each module takes place at the end of the semester in which the module takes place, and consists of one one-hour examination (for 5 ECTS modules) or one two-hour examination (for 10 ECTS modules).

PI3102/PI3002: Political Philosophy (5/10 ECTS)

  • Contact Hours: 22 hours of lectures
  • Lecturer: Dr Brian Carey (email)
  • ECTS: 5/10
  • Semester 2

Module Outline for Semester 2

Who should get what, and why? Theories of distributive justice seek to explain how states should distribute (and redistribute) valuable resources, within their borders and beyond. This course will introduce students to the most significant theories of distributive justice in contemporary political philosophy. These theories include liberal egalitarianism, libertarianism, ‘luck’ egalitarianism, and the capabilities approach.
We will begin by considering three core concepts that are central to most theories of distributive justice: rights, freedom, and equality. We will then examine how different theories of distributive justice attempt to strike the right balance between each. In the latter part of the course, we will also consider some of the challenges that have been raised against these theories in recent years, including the feminist critique of liberalism, and challenges posed by globalisation and intergenerational justice.

Learning Outcomes:

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

  • Understand the most significant theories of distributive justice in contemporary political philosophy.
  • Engage critically with these positions and assess their relative strengths and weaknesses.
  • Present their views on these subjects in the form of philosophical arguments that are clear, coherent, and compelling.


PI3108/PI3008: Philosophy of Religion (5/10 ECTS)

  • Contact Hours: 22 hours of lectures
  • Lecturer: Prof. Paul O'Grady (email)
  • ECTS: 5/10
  • Semester 2

Module Outline for Semester 2

This course develops the introductory material on philosophy of religion from the freshman years. Its focus is a comparion of the philosophy of religion of Aquinas and Wittgenstein, both of whom have been enormously influential in the sub-field. It compares and contrasts their contexts and conceptions of philosophy. Similarities and differences in their accounts of talk about God and knowledge are assessed. Aquinas on God’s existence and nature and the kind of philosophical agnosticism associated with his views on divine simplicity are compared with Wittgenstein’s discussion of the mystical and the kind of relativism about religion often attributed to him. Engagement will be made with various interpretative approaches to this material.

Learning Outcomes:

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

  • Critically evaluate the contrasting approaches of Aquinas and Wittgenstein to the philosophy of religion.
  • Compare and contrast their views about religious belief.
  • Engage consructively with the commentarial tradition which brings Aquinas and Wittgenstein together.

 

PI3117/PI3017: Metaphysics (5/10 ECTS)

  • Contact Hours: 22 hours of lectures
  • Lecturer: Dr Alison Fernandes (email)
  • ECTS: 5/10
  • Semester 2

Module Outline for Semester 2

In this module, we’ll explore contemporary issues in metaphysics, with a focus on how metaphysics is relevant to science and the everyday. Metaphysics presents itself as the study of what there is (ontology), and what reality is like at its most fundamental level. While science and other enterprises may tell us about the world, metaphysics promises to provide the most objective, systematic and comprehensive account of reality possible. We’ll survey a number of so-called ‘first-order’ metaphysical debates that attempt to answer these aims, including debates about ontology, kinds, properties, personal identity, time, and causation. Through examining how these debates are relevant to science, ethics, and our overall conception of the world, students will develop their own views about what metaphysics is, and why it matters.

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Describe and analyse metaphysical accounts of ontology, kinds, properties, personal identity, time, and causation, based on primary texts and secondary reading.
  • Present and critically evaluate arguments for and against these positions.
  • Explain the relevance of metaphysical debates for science, ethics, and the everyday.
  • Express their own thoughts on the nature and purpose of metaphysics.

Suggested Preliminary Reading
Ney, Alyssa. 2014. Metaphysics: An Introduction. New York: Routledge. Ch. 1 (‘An Introduction to Ontology’)
Quine, Willard V. 1948. ‘On What There Is’. The Review of Metaphysics, 2(5): 21−38.

PI3118/PI3018: Philosphy of Mind (5/10 ECTS)

  • Contact Hours: 22 hours of lectures
  • Lecturer: Dr Ben White (email)
  • ECTS: 5/10
  • Semester 2

Module Outline for Semester 2

If you’re reading these words, then chances are that you have a mind. But what exactly is a mind? This module will pursue an answer to this question by exploring various characteristics and capacities that have been identified as distinctive of mentality, including but not limited to: consciousness, rationality, a sense of self, the ability to have perceptions, thoughts, and beliefs about the world, the disposition to exhibit certain forms of behavior, and the possession of a sufficiently complex brain. Along the way we will also consider a number of questions that have been the subject of sustained interest and debate among those engaged in philosophical and scientific studies of the mind. These will include such questions as the following: What is the relationship between the mind and the brain? Can non-living entities, e.g. computers, have minds? How do mental states, e.g. beliefs, desires, and sensations, cause physical effects, e.g. bodily motions? Is consciousness essential to mentality? Can mental states and processes be fully explained in non-mental, physical terms? How do thoughts and perceptions come to represent various objects in and features of our environment? What determines the content of our thoughts and perceptions? Our investigation of these questions and the features of mentality they shed light on will set us on the path towards an improved understanding of the mind and its place in nature.

Learning Outcomes:

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

  • Describe and evaluate competing theories in the metaphysics of mind.
  • Describe some of the main problems of contemporary analytic philosophy of mind and outline the main solutions that have been proposed.
  • Assess arguments in the philosophy of mind.
  • Critically examine theories in the philosophy of mind.
  • Develop and clearly express their own arguments regarding theories and questions about the nature and function of the mind.