production
Skip to Content

Undergraduate Philosophy 2023-2024

PH1027: CONTROVERSIAL QUESTIONS

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

We examine questions such as: Is eating animals immoral? Is being a good or bad person a matter of luck? If so, are we justified in punishing bad people? Should anyone be able to set limits on what you can do with your own  body, even if it's ‘for your own good’? Should everyone be allowed to state their mind, even if their views are harmful or offensive? Is censorship ever justifiable? Do you have a moral obligation to help those worse-off? Are you unknowingly biased against underprivileged groups?

PH1034: LOGIC AND ARGUMENT

15 credits

Level 1

First Sub Session

What makes an argument a good argument? What are the correct rules for reasoning? How do the meanings of sentences relate to each other? How can the tools of logic be used in philosophy?

This course provides an introduction to logic and tools for successfully evaluating arguments. Some of the topics covered include validity, soundness, consistency, entailment, provability, quantification, and identity. Two formal languages are introduced, the language of sentential logic and the language of quantified logic. The course develops the ability to symbolise English sentences into formal languages and to complete proofs in Natural Deduction. Logical concepts are applied to issues in philosophy of language, metaphysics, as well as philosophical puzzles and paradoxes.

PH1522: HOW SHOULD ONE LIVE?

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

What are the key elements of a good life? Freedom, happiness, acting in our own interests, doing good for others, or following moral laws? Philosophers have asked these questions for millennia, generating a large number of answers and a larger number of further questions. In this course, we will read and discuss theories of ethics from a range of times and cultures. We will read some of the most important works in the history of philosophy from Plato, Aristotle, Confucius, Kant, and Mill, before turning to contemporary approaches including feminist ethics and virtue ethics. Throughout, we will consider and discuss our own views about the values of good and bad, right and wrong, and how to live a good life.

PH1523: EXPERIENCE, KNOWLEDGE AND REALITY

15 credits

Level 1

Second Sub Session

How “real” is reality? How does the mind relate to the world? This course introduces two approaches to answering these questions: rationalism and empiricism. By reading Rene Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, we learn about Descartes’ rationalist approach to knowledge, reality, mind-body dualism, and God’s necessary existence. Through David Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding see how Hume grounds knowledge in experience. We read Hume on impressions and ideas, induction, causality, miracles and critically compare and examine Descartes’ and Hume’s arguments by drawing on readers and critics.

PH201C: POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

What (if any) forms of government are legitimate? What, if anything, grants legitimacy to the state to limit the freedoms of its citizens through its laws? What makes tyranny worse than democracy? Is our current system of government indeed the best possible one, or are there better alternatives?

This course addresses questions in political philosophy and explores central concepts such as freedom, equality and democracy by providing students with a (non-exhaustive) overview of key theories and principles in political philosophy. The course will encourage students to apply these theories to contemporary concrete political issues and problems. Topics to be examined may include: ancient Greek democracy, tyranny, social contract theory, liberalism, Marxism, libertarianism, feminist political philosophy, non-Western political philosophy, anarchism, and resistance.

PH2040: METAPHYSICS AND EPISTEMOLOGY

15 credits

Level 2

First Sub Session

This course provides students with an introduction to central issues in metaphysics and epistemology. The emphasis is on introducing some of the central issues in these areas; issues that have shaped the contemporary debate.  In addition to introducing a number of central issues in metaphysics and epistemology, this course also teaches and further develops a number of essential skills including extracting and evaluating philosophical arguments, critical writing, and the application of logical concepts to philosophical problems. 

PH251D: ETHICS OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

Why are some researchers arguing that future robots should be considered as persons? What will increased AI mean for the future of work? What might increased AI do to global politics and democracy? Can we trust AI to make important healthcare decisions? What about bias in systems? And who or what is to be held responsible if things go wrong? This course explores some of the most pressing philosophical problems of the modern age. No computer science or philosophy background is required.

PH2542: PHILOSOPHY AND SOCIETY

15 credits

Level 2

Second Sub Session

This team-taught course will explore relevant questions of social importance using the tool of philosophical thinking. Students will engage with philosophical arguments and concepts central to various domains, including technology, health care, digital knowledge, migration, and sport.

PH304Q: THE METAPHYSICS OF POSSIBILITY

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

In almost any area of contemporary philosophy that you study, you will eventually encounter talk of possible worlds. Physicalism, naturalism in ethics, counterfactuals, necessity and possibility, propositions, dispositions, determinism, mental and linguistic content, to name a few, are often stated or analysed in terms of possible worlds. What should we make of all this possible worlds talk? Should we take it as the literal truth? Is there really a possible world in which I am a concert violist? If so, then what sorts of things are possible worlds? Are they concrete spacetimes like the actual world? Or are they linguistic descriptions, abstract states of affairs, sets of n-tuples? Or perhaps all this possible worlds talk is a useful fiction that philosophers participate in and, strictly speaking, there are no such things. Or perhaps appealing to possible words is not really the best way of capturing our thought and talk about possibility. In this course, we will consider these questions.

PH306K: SCEPTICISM

30 credits

Level 3

First Sub Session

This advanced course in epistemology focuses on the recent philosophical debate on scepticism. We will single out prominent forms of scepticism and explore attempts to respond to them. The emphasis will be on external world scepticism and responses to it. The course doesn't aim to reject scepticism. Its function is rather that of illuminating and critically discussing problems affecting our most basic theses, notions and intuitions in epistemology through the analysis of sceptical arguments.

PH354P: HONOURS RESEARCH PROJECT IN PHILOSOPHY

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

This course introduces new Honours students to core research skills and methods in the academic discipline of Philosophy. Students will receive weekly support in the design, management and delivery of a 4000 word research project.

PH354V: EFFECTIVE ALTRUISM

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

Effective altruism is an intellectual and social movement seeking to use reason and evidence to identify how to do most good, then doing it. In this course we will examine effective altruism’s philosophical underpinnings, its practical consequences, areas of debate and development, as well as examining the views of its critics. Questions to be addressed include: Are we obliged to give away all our excess wealth to those who are worse off? What kinds of impact do different kinds of charitable giving have? Is overseas aid effective at all? How can one do most good with one’s career? Should one seek to minimise existential risk, such as the risk from misaligned artificial intelligence, nuclear warfare or engineered pandemics? Is it right to prioritise the wellbeing of humans who are currently alive over those who will live in the distant future, or is this just an unjustified, short-termist bias? Does doing the most good involve addressing the harm done to animals? And how should we deal with the high uncertainty (or outright cluelessness) regarding the far-future effects of our actions today?

PH355P: CREATIVITY

30 credits

Level 3

Second Sub Session

In this course we will explore such questions as the following: What is creativity? How is it best defined? Can it be explained? Is creativity a virtue? What is its value? Can it be taught? What are some of the recent theories of creativity? What objections might be raised to them? Is artistic creativity different from scientific creativity? What is the relationship between creativity and imagination? What role does creativity play in philosophy? How can we foster creativity?

PH402D: DISSERTATION

30 credits

Level 4

Full Year

The dissertation is on a topic in philosophy. The specific topic will be chosen by the student with the approval of the supervisor. The choice of topics is restricted insofar as it must fall within the teaching competence of the supervisor.

Another dissertation or Project course must not be undertaken alongside the Philosophy Dissertation

PH404Q: THE METAPHYSICS OF POSSIBILITY

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

In almost any area of contemporary philosophy that you study, you will eventually encounter talk of possible worlds. Physicalism, naturalism in ethics, counterfactuals, necessity and possibility, propositions, dispositions, determinism, mental and linguistic content, to name a few, are often stated or analysed in terms of possible worlds. What should we make of all this possible worlds talk? Should we take it as the literal truth? Is there really a possible world in which I am a concert violist? If so, then what sorts of things are possible worlds? Are they concrete spacetimes like the actual world? Or are they linguistic descriptions, abstract states of affairs, sets of n-tuples? Or perhaps all this possible worlds talk is a useful fiction that philosophers participate in and, strictly speaking, there are no such things. Or perhaps appealing to possible words is not really the best way of capturing our thought and talk about possibility. In this course, we will consider these questions.

PH406K: SCEPTICISM

30 credits

Level 4

First Sub Session

This advanced course in epistemology focuses on the recent philosophical debate on scepticism. We will single out prominent forms of scepticism and explore attempts to respond to them. The emphasis will be on external world scepticism and responses to it. The course doesn't aim to reject scepticism. Its function is rather that of illuminating and critically discussing problems affecting our most basic theses, notions and intuitions in epistemology through the analysis of sceptical arguments.

PH454V: EFFECTIVE ALTRUISM

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

Effective altruism is an intellectual and social movement seeking to use reason and evidence to identify how to do most good, then doing it. In this course we will examine effective altruism’s philosophical underpinnings, its practical consequences, areas of debate and development, as well as examining the views of its critics. Questions to be addressed include: Are we obliged to give away all our excess wealth to those who are worse off? What kinds of impact do different kinds of charitable giving have? Is overseas aid effective at all? How can one do most good with one’s career? Should one seek to minimise existential risk, such as the risk from misaligned artificial intelligence, nuclear warfare or engineered pandemics? Is it right to prioritise the wellbeing of humans who are currently alive over those who will live in the distant future, or is this just an unjustified, short-termist bias? Does doing the most good involve addressing the harm done to animals? And how should we deal with the high uncertainty (or outright cluelessness) regarding the far-future effects of our actions today?

PH455P: CREATIVITY

30 credits

Level 4

Second Sub Session

In this course we will explore such questions as the following: What is creativity? How is it best defined? Can it be explained? Is creativity a virtue? What is its value? Can it be taught? What are some of the recent theories of creativity? What objections might be raised to them? Is artistic creativity different from scientific creativity? What is the relationship between creativity and imagination? What role does creativity play in philosophy? How can we foster creativity?

Compatibility Mode

We have detected that you are have compatibility mode enabled or are using an old version of Internet Explorer. You either need to switch off compatibility mode for this site or upgrade your browser.