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Junior Sophister Single Honors Philosophy
Module Outlines
Hilary Term 2020

Each module usually consists of two hours of lectures or seminars per week over the semester. Students taking Single Honors Philosophy take three modules each semester (at 10 ECTS each). Students select their modules by submitting a module choice form to the philosophy office.

Part of the assessment for each module will be by means of two essays that are marked by the module lecturer. For guidance please consult the list of JS essay titles, distributed to students during the semester. Essay titles are made available by lecturers on Blackboard. Students are required to submit their essay through Blackboard. No hard copies of essays are required. Students are advised not to use the Safari browser when submitting assignments through Blackboard. Students must attach a cover sheet to all Philosophy essays.

The examination for each module takes place at the end of the semester in which the module takes place. Material already assessed in essays may not be used again in examinations. To do so is to be liable to be penalised by 10 marks for the examination question attempted.

Assessment details can be found under the modules below.

Wordcount for Essays

Essays must not exceed 2,500 words in length. 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.

Late Submission of Essays and Extensions

There will be a 5 mark deduction for each week an essay is late.

Essay extensions, may be requested on medical or ad misericordiam grounds from your programme coordinator Professor Lilian Alweiss (Single Honors Philosophy) but only via your College Tutor. Extensions must be arranged prior to the submission date.

PIU33074/PIU33072: Political Philosophy (5/10 ECTS)

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

Module Outline

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 Aims

  • To familiarise students with several of the most popular theories of distributive justice in contemporary political philosophy.
  • To demonstrate and help students to develop the skills necessary to asses and critique theories of distributive 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.

Assessment for 5 ECTS module

Annual and Reassessment are the same:*

  • 1 ESSAY WORTH 50% OF MODULE
  • 1 (1 HOUR) EXAMINATION WORTH 50% OF MODULE

*If students are required to complete reassessment they are required to complete each failed component of the failed module

Assessment for 10 ECTS module

Annual and Reassessment are the same:*

  • 2 ESSAYS (WORTH 25% EACH) WORTH 50% OF MODULE
  • 1 (2 HOUR) EXAMINATION WORTH 50% OF MODULE

*If students are required to complete reassessment they are required to complete each failed component of the failed module

Recommended Reading List

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.

PIU33034/PIU33032: Philosophy of Religion (5/10 ECTS)

Module Outline

This course develops the introductory material on philosophy of religion from the fresher years. Its focus is a comparison 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 constructively with the commentarial tradition which brings Aquinas and Wittgenstein together.

Assessment for 5 ECTS module

Annual and Reassessment are the same:*

  • 1 ESSAY WORTH 50% OF MODULE
  • 1 (1 HOUR) EXAMINATION WORTH 50% OF MODULE

*If students are required to complete reassessment they are required to complete each failed component of the failed module

Assessment for 10 ECTS module

Annual and Reassessment are the same:*

  • 2 ESSAYS (WORTH 25% EACH) WORTH 50% OF MODULE
  • 1 (2 HOUR) EXAMINATION WORTH 50% OF MODULE

*If students are required to complete reassessment they are required to complete each failed component of the failed module

Recommended Reading List

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.

PIU33014/PIU33012: Topics in Ancient Philosophy (5/10 ECTS)

Module Outline

The aim of these lectures and seminars is to study and critically discuss two of Plato’s great dialogues, Gorgias and Symposium, and to concentrate on two major themes in them: power, in the Gorgias; and love, the Symposium and Phaedrus.

TOPICS AND QUESTIONS

We shall concentrate on the following issues and questions:

LOVE IN THE SYMPOSIUM

  • Is there a single overall question about love in the Symposium?
  • What is this question and when and how is it first introduced?
  • What is love (eros), as they are discussing it and disputing about it?
  • Is it acceptable to read the series of speeches as culminating in Socrates/Diotima’s speech?
  • Does Phaedrus have a good argument for his claim that love is supremely good for us humans?
  • How, and how convincingly, does Pausanias contradict Phaedrus’ view that love is supremely good?
  • Do you agree with Pausanias that there are two separate kinds of love, good love and bad love?
  • What serious fault in the human condition is Aristophanes’ account of love a response to?
  • Is Aristophanes’ account of love correctly characterized as ‘romantic’?
  • What music would be good accompaniment to Aristophanes’ speech?
  • How attractive do you find Aristophanes’ account of love?
  • Does Agathon have a good argument for his claim that love is supremely beautiful and supremely good?
  • Is Agathon right in moving directly from ‘Love is supremely beautiful’ to ‘Love is supremely good’?
  • How does Socrates argue that love is lacking in both beauty and goodness?
  • What does Diotima mean by the claim that love is ‘mid-way’ between good and bad?
  • Is Diotima arguing that love is volatile and unstable?
  • How does Diotima argue that love is a creative force?
  • Is it a fair objection to Plato that his account of love (according to Socrates/Diotima) is excessively self-regarding and leaves out the place of others?
  • What are the steps in the ascent of love, according to Diotima?
  • How does Socrates/Diotima conclude that only the vision of pure beauty can issue in genuine virtue and wisdom and not in conventional virtue and wisdom?
  • What, in your view, is especially striking about Alcibiades’ account of his unhappy love for Socrates?
  • How does Alcibiades’ account of his unhappy love for Socrates contribute to the overall question about love in the dialogue?

POWER IN THE GORGIAS

  • How does Socrates argue that Gorgias’ account of the power of rhetoric involves a contradiction?
  • Is it easy to get rid of that contradiction? Is it as easy as Polus thinks?
  • Is Socrates’ argument against Polus’ conception of power based on Polus’ own premises?
  • How does Socrates invoke the distinction between what one desire/wants and what seems best to one to argue against Polus conception of power?
  • How important, in your view, is the distinction between what one desire/wants and what seems best to one?
  • Can one be seriously mistaken about what is good for one?
  • Can one be seriously mistaken about what one wants?
  • Where does Socrates’ views come from that The worst thing for one is to do wrong, and It is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong and If one has done wrong, it is better to be punished than go unpunished?
  • Are these views as counter-intuitive as Polus thinks?
  • Is it consistent for Socrates to hold these views with the passion with which he holds them while at the same time he claims not to know that they are true?
  • How does Socrates employ the notion of what is noble/beautiful and what is base/ugly to defend his view against Polus charge of counter-intuitiveness?
  • Is Polus too easily persuaded by Socrates?
  • Is Callicles’ distinction between what is noble by nature and what is noble by convention a good way of avoiding Socrates’ views?
  • Is there a way for Callicles to distinguish between noble/beautiful pleasures and pursuits and base/ugly pleasures and pursuits?

Learning Outcomes

  • At the end of this module students will be able to critically discuss two of Plato’s great dialogues, Gorgias and Symposium.

Assessment for 5 ECTS module

Annual and Reassessment are the same:*

  • 1 ESSAY WORTH 50% OF MODULE
  • 1 (1 HOUR) EXAMINATION WORTH 50% OF MODULE

*If students are required to complete reassessment they are required to complete each failed component of the failed module

Assessment for 10 ECTS module

Annual and Reassessment are the same:*

  • 2 ESSAYS (WORTH 25% EACH) WORTH 50% OF MODULE
  • 1 (2 HOUR) EXAMINATION WORTH 50% OF MODULE

*If students are required to complete reassessment they are required to complete each failed component of the failed module

Recommended Reading List

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.

PIU33084/PIU33082: Philosophy of Mind (5/10 ECTS)

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

Module Outline

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, 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 Aims

  • The primary learning aims of this component are to acquire a sophisticated understanding of foundational issues in contemporary philosophy of mind and to develop general skills in the construction, analysis, and evaluation of philosophical arguments relating to these issues.

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Describe and evaluate competing theories in the metaphysics of mind.
  • Explain some of the main issues discussed in contemporary analytic philosophy of mind and assess arguments bearing on these issues.
  • Articulate and defend their own views on various philosophical questions about the mind.

Assessment for 5 ECTS module

Annual and Reassessment are the same:*

  • 1 ESSAY WORTH 40% OF MODULE
  • 1 (1 HOUR) EXAMINATION WORTH 40% OF MODULE
  • WEEKLY READING QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION BOARD POSTS WORTH 20% OF MODULE

*If students are required to complete reassessment they are required to complete each failed component of the failed module

Assessment for 10 ECTS module

Annual and Reassessment are the same:*

  • 2 ESSAYS (WORTH 20% EACH) WORTH 40% OF MODULE
  • 1 (2 HOUR) EXAMINATION WORTH 40% OF MODULE
  • WEEKLY READING QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION BOARD POSTS WORTH 20% OF MODULE

*If students are required to complete reassessment they are required to complete each failed component of the failed module

Recommended Reading List

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.