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Junior Fresh Year Single Honors Philosophy
Module Outlines
Michaelmas Term 2019

All modules consist of two components with 11 lectures each (over five and a half weeks) in each semester. There are two hours of lectures per week. Each module component covers a single coherent theme or topic (e.g. Ethics, or 17th Century Philosophy) and is usually taught by the same lecturer. Students also meet for weekly tutorials with departmental teaching assistants.

Part of the assessment for each module will be by means of essays that are marked by the module teaching assistants. For guidance please consult the list of JF 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. The examination paper will contain questions that reflect each of the components that make up the module. 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.

Wordcount for Essays

Essays must not exceed 1,500 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.

Tutorial Attendance

It is mandatory for Fresher students to attend tutorials for Philosophy. If a student misses six or more tutorials in a term, then they are penalised by ten marks being deducted from one of their essays for the modules covered by that tutorial in that term.

PIU11011: Topics in Philosophy I A

Module Outline

This is a problems-based course, composed of the following components:

Component 1: Topic in Political Philosophy (Dr Brian Carey)

This module explores the role of the citizen in democratic societies, from a philosophical perspective. Students will explore different ways of understanding the value of citizenship and democracy, as well as the ethics of public deliberation and voting. Students will also have the opportunity to examine alternatives to democracy and traditional models of citizenship, and to consider arguments for and against citizenship deprivation and secession.

Learning Aims

  • To introduce students to contemporary normative debates in political philosophy surrounding concept of citizenship.
  • To demonstrate and help students to develop the core skills used by political philosophers to construct and critique arguments.
  • To provide students with an introduction to political philosophy that is suitable for studying the subject further in the course of their studies.

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Critically evaluate different explanations of the value of citizenship and democracy.
  • Identify key ethical questions relating to a range of activities traditionally associated with citizenship, such as voting and public deliberation.
  • Present their views on these subjects in the form of philosophical arguments that are clear, coherent, and compelling

Recommended Reading List

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.

Component 2: Religion (God and Freedom) (Dr Kenneth Pearce)

The major Abrahamic religions have traditionally held that God is perfectly good and perfectly wise or rational and at the same time that God is perfectly free. In particular, it has seemed important to many philosophers and theologians working within these traditions that God be free to create a different world or no world at all. This gives rise to a puzzle. On the one hand, it seems that a perfectly good and perfectly wise being must necessarily choose what is best. On the other hand, it seems that a being who must necessarily choose the best is not free. In Can God Be Free?, William Rowe argues that none of the proposed solutions to this problem is successful. The traditional conception of God, Rowe concludes, is incoherent and must be rejected. In addition to these problems about God's freedom, many philosophers have thought that the existence of an omnipotent and omniscient creator would threaten our freedom. This component will examine these problems about God and Freedom, along with various proposed theistic responses.

Learning Aims

  • To expand student skills in the logical analysis of arguments by the examination of philosophical problems related to God and freedom.

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Describe central philosophical problems related to God and freedom.
  • Explain how problems related to freedom have functioned in arguments against the existence of God.
  • Critically evaluate theistic responses to these problems.

Recommended Reading List

William Rowe, Can God Be Free? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Other readings to be distributed on Blackboard.

Assessment for PIU11011 Topics in Philosophy I A (10 ECTS)

Annual and Reassessment are the same:*

  • Coursework: 2 essays (one for each component) - 50%
  • Examination: 2 examination questions (one for each component) (2 hours total) - 50%

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

PIU11013: Topics in Philosophy II A

Module Outline

Component 1: Mind (Dr Ben White)

The topic of consciousness is one of the most active and controversy-filled areas in contemporary philosophy of mind. While philosophers, neuroscientists, psychologists, and cognitive scientists have grown increasingly interested in the topic of consciousness over the last 20 years, disagreement persists over such fundamental questions as: What is the nature of consciousness? What function (if any) does consciousness perform? Are there different kinds of consciousness? Are conscious states physical or non-physical? How can we determine whether other creatures have conscious experiences like our own? This component will investigate such questions by considering the treatment they’ve received from authors such as Daniel Dennett, Ned Block, David Chalmers, and Michael Tye

Learning Aims

  • The primary learning aims of this component are to acquire an understanding of central issues in contemporary philosophical discussions of consciousness (including how these discussions have been influenced by findings in psychology and neuroscience), 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 component students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of central concepts and debates in contemporary philosophical discussions of consciousness.
  • Critically assess prominent arguments pertaining to the nature of consciousness.

Recommended Reading List

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.

Component 2: Topic in Politics (Dr Brian Carey)

What should we do when we don’t know what to do? What should we do when forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, or when our moral duties seem to conflict? What should when we just can’t muster the will to do what we ought to do? This module explores how we can make ethical decisions under non-ideal circumstances. We will look at a range of cases where obstacles that sometimes arise in the real world make it difficult or even impossible to put ethical theory into practice.

Learning Aims

  • To introduce students to the study of moral philosophy by examining a series of questions concerning the connection between ethical theory and practice.
  • To demonstrate and help students to develop the core skills used by moral philosophers to construct and critique arguments.

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Critically evaluate a number of debates in contemporary moral philosophy concerning ethical decision-making under non-ideal circumstances.
  • Identify and engage with some central themes of contemporary moral philosophy more generally.
  • Present their views on these subjects in the form of philosophical arguments that are clear, coherent, and compelling.

Recommended Reading List

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.

Assessment for PIU11013 Topics in Philosophy II A (5 ECTS)

Annual and Reassessment are the same:*

  • Coursework: 1 essay from EITHER Component 1 OR Component 2 - 50%
  • Examination: 1 examination question (1 hour) for the component for which an essay was not submitted - 50%

Important Note: For this module, students must not attempt to answer an examination question for the same component as that for which they have submitted an essay. To do so is to be liable to be penalised by 10 marks for the examination question attempted.

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

PIU11021: Central Problems in Philosophy A

Module Outline

Component 1: Philosophy of Religion (Dr Kenneth Pearce)

This component provides an introduction to philosophical reflection on religious belief and practice. We will focus on three questions:

  • What is the relationship between faith and reason? Religious believers sometimes claim that their beliefs are a matter of faith and therefore do not need to be supported by reasons. Is this claim plausible? Should rational arguments against articles of faith be taken seriously? If it’s acceptable for someone to believe by faith (without evidence) that God exists, is it also acceptable for someone to believe by faith that 2+2=5?
  • Can belief in God be rational? Philosophers have offered a variety of arguments for and against the existence of God. We will discuss a few of the arguments that have been most influential in the Western tradition.
  • Can it be rational to engage in religious practice? Religions typically involve not only beliefs but also ritual practices. Are these practices rational? Does the rationality of religious practice require that the practices have supernatural effects?

Learning Aims

  • To introduce students to the study of philosophy at university-level, and to the skills and methods of analytic philosophy, through the study of problems in the philosophy of religion.

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Describe some main philosophical questions related to religious belief and practice.
  • Critically evaluate philosophical arguments concerning religious belief and practice.

Recommended Reading List

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.

Component 2: Philosophy of Mind (Dr Ben White)

This component will consider some central concepts and debates in the philosophy of mind. We will focus on the mind-body problem, which concerns the relationship between mental states (e.g. sensations, thoughts, beliefs, desires) and physical states (e.g. neural activity). After considering the solutions to this problem proposed by various theories of mind, e.g. dualism, behaviourism, identity theory, and functionalism, we will proceed to investigate some related topics in the philosophy of mind, such as consciousness, intentionality, and personal identity.

Learning Aims

  • The primary learning aims of this component are to acquire a working knowledge 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 component students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of important concepts in the philosophy of mind.
  • Critically assess prominent arguments for and against the main positions on the mind-body problem.

Recommended Reading List

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.

Assessment for PIU11021 Central Problems in Philosophy A (10 ECTS)

Annual and Reassessment are the same:*

  • Coursework: 2 essays (one for each component) - 50%
  • Examination: 2 examination questions (one for each component) (2 hours total) - 50%

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

PIU11031: History of Western Philosophy I A

Module Outline

Component 1: Ancient Philosophy (Professor Vasilis Politis)

The aim of these lectures is to study and critically discuss a selection of texts from Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle, Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics. We shall concentrate on the following topics:

  • Start with Heraclitus. Concentrate on two things: 1. The idea that truth is hidden and a matter of aporia; relate this to Plato’s method. 2. The idea of the unity of opposites. Relate this to Plato’s idea of essences and Forms; also to Parmenides and to Nietzsche.
  • Continue with Plato. Concentrate on three things: 1. Plato’s method. 2. Plato’s ethics and the idea of essences and Forms. 3. Plato’s idea of care of the soul (consider whether there any antecedents for this idea in Heraclitus or elsewhere).
  • Continue with Aristotle. Concentrate on three things: 1. Aristotle’s idea of substance and his revision of Plato’s essentialism. 2. Aristotle’s appropriation of Plato’s ethics in terms of eudaimonism. 3. The question whether Aristotle’s allows for direct knowledge.
  • Continue with. 1. The Stoic and Epicurean idea, contra both Plato and Aristotle, that the truth is evident. 2. The direction in which Stoics and Epicureans took eudaimonism.
  • Finish with sceptics: The method of the Pyrrhonian sceptics and how it differs from the scepticism in Plato.

Learning Outcomes

  • At the end of this course students will be able to study and critically discuss a selection of texts from Heraclitus, Plato, Aristotle, Stoics, Epicureans and Sceptics.

Recommended Reading List

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.

Component 2: Medieval Philosophy (Mr Michael O'Gorman)

The time scale of medieval philosophy is very long, from Augustine (354-430) to William of Ockham (d.1347). The philosophers of this period built on and developed ancient philosophy, especially the thought of Plato and Aristotle, mediated though later Greek schools, such as Neoplatonism. Many of the major philosophers of the period were concerned with relating philosophy to the Abrahamic religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Given the diversity of strands and figures in this period, the course will begin and end with a survey of main figures and historical movements, but will focus on two key figures of the period. We will begin with Augustine, examining how he brought Greek philosophy into dialogue with Christianity and looking specifically at his rejection of skepticism and his positive account of knowledge. Then we will move on to Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and explore his general metaphysical system, as well as his account of mind. Hence this course will examine an influential epistemological position, an influential metaphysical position and an influential account of mind from the medieval period.

Learning Outcomes

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

  • Characterize the main figures and movements of medieval philosophy
  • Critically evaluate Augustine’s epistemology
  • Critically evaluate Aquinas’s metaphysics

Recommended Reading List

As advised/circulated by lecturer during the lecture series.

Assessment for PIU11031 History of Western Philosophy I A (5 ECTS)

Annual and Reassessment are the same:*

  • Coursework: 1 essay from EITHER Component 1 OR Component 2 - 50%
  • Examination: 1 examination question (1 hour) for the component for which an essay was not submitted - 50%

Important Note: For this module, students must not attempt to answer an examination question for the same component as that for which they have submitted an essay. To do so is to be liable to be penalised by 10 marks for the examination question attempted.

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