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MPhil Stud Modules

This is the list of MPhil Stud modules running in the 2022/23 academic year.

Click on the titles below to see more information, including a module description and a provisional syllabus. Module leader email addresses can be found via the staff pages. For times and locations, please use the UCL common timetable (which will be updated in early September).

Term 1

PHIL0025 Logic and its Limits

Module Leader: Owen Griffiths

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: A

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: Coursework, 4 Problem Sets (25% each)

Description: The purpose of this module is to present the basic methods and results of contemporary logic. The emphasis is on the practical skill of formulating and proving results about logical systems. Students are introduced to basic set theory, enumerability and non-enumerability, isomorphisms and cardinality of models, the Compactness and Löwenheim-Skolem Theorems, inexpressibility results, soundness and completeness results. Most of the course is based on Jeffrey & Boolos' Computability and Logic (2007, CUP, 5th edition).

PHIL0041 Early Wittgenstein

Module Leader: José Zalabardo

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: C

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: One essay (4,500 words)

Description: The purpose of this module is to present some of the central doctrines of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. The module focuses on the account offered in this book of the structure of reality and our ability to represent it in thought and language. We will also study ideas of Bertrand Russell and Gottlob Frege that are relevant for the development of Wittgenstein’s thought.

The module will enable you to understand these important ideas, overcoming the obscurity of Wittgenstein’s writing. This will contribute to your general understanding of the central philosophical issues that Wittgenstein addresses. It will also develop your ability to interpret difficult philosophical texts.

Topics covered by the module will include:

Russell’s dual-relation theory of judgment

Russell’s multiple-relation theory of judgment

Russell and Wittgenstein on forms

Wittgenstein’s picture theory

Frege on unity and unsaturatedness

Wittgenstein on the unity of the proposition

Wittgenstein on the unity of facts

Objects and expressions as common structural features

Substance and simplicity

 

Teaching Delivery

The module will be delivered by weekly two-hour lecture/seminars, combining presentation of material by the lecturer and general discussion of the ideas presented. You will be expected to do preparatory reading for each session.

By the end of the module:

You will have gained a deep understanding of some of the central ideas put forward by Wittgenstein in his early period.

You will be able to connect Wittgenstein’s proposals to contemporary debates in metaphysics, philosophy of language and philosophy of mind.

You will have enhanced your interpretative skills regarding difficult philosophical texts.

You will have developed your ability to grasp and discuss highly abstract philosophical issues.

 

Recommended Reading

In preparation for the module, we advise reading the following core texts. These can be found in the UCL Library:

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1974. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Translated by D. F. Pears and B. McGuinness. 2nd ed. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Original edition, 1961.

Zalabardo, José L. 2015. Representation and Reality in Wittgenstein's Tractatus. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

PHIL0044 Aristotle's Moral Psychology

Module Leader: Elena Cagnoli Fiecconi

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: C

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: Essay 4,500 words


Description: The module focuses on Aristotle's philosophy of mind and moral psychology. After a brief introduction in the first week to the central tenets of his metaphysics and epistemology, the module will cover topics including Aristotle's views human nature and human flourishing, the kinds of cognitive capacities attributable to humans and non-human animals, the emotions, virtue ethics, the doctrine of the mean and learning to be good, weakness of the will, and vice. The central primary text will be the Nicomachean Ethics, although other texts will be consulted, notably de Anima.  It is intended that students will learn to read passages from Aristotle’s works in ethics and psychology. They will develop the ability to evaluate the arguments proposed in the sources and to propose and assess different possible interpretations. They will be encouraged to reflect critically on the significance of the material. A sample syllabi, with the relevant primary texts, is as follows (selected secondary reading is also assigned each week):

 

Week 1

Introduction & metaphysics – overview of life and works, relation to Plato – and Aristotle’s metaphysics: hylomorphism, substance, the four causes, body and soul

Primary Text: Metaphysics, VII.1-4, 6, 10-11, 13, 15, 17; Physics II.1-9; III.1-3, VIII.6; de Anima, book 1.1, 1.4

Week 2

The soul & cognition

Primary Textde Anima, books I-III, and (optional) de Motu Animalium, 6-11

Week 3

Phantasia & emotion

Primary TextRhetoric book II.1-10; de Anima, book III.3

Week 4

Understanding the ‘doctrine’ of the mean

Primary TextNicomachean Ethics, books II-III (especially II.1-9, III.5-12)

Week 5

The mean ‘relative to us’

Primary TextNicomachean Ethics, books II-III (especially II.1-9, III.5-12)

Week 6

The structure of habituation

Primary TextNicomachean Ethics, I.13, II.1-4

Week 7

Habituation & action

Primary Text: (the same as for week 6) Nicomachean Ethics, I.13, II.1-4

Week 8

Virtue and Akrasia (weakness of the will)

Primary TextNicomachean EthicsNicomachean Ethics, VII.1-10

Week 9

Vice and moral conflict

Primary TextNicomachean Ethics, III. 2-5, 10-12, VII.7-8 (already read in week 8), IX.4

Week 10

Vice as a unified psychological state

Primary Text: (mostly the same as for week 9) Nicomachean Ethics, III. 2-5, 10-2, VII.7-8, IX.4

PHIL0045 Making Sense of the Senses

Module Leader: Mark Kalderon

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: A

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: Essay 4,500 words
 

Description: C.D. Broad offers a comparative phenomenology of vision, audition, and touch highlighting the important differences between them. We will assess Broad’s comparative phenomenology drawing upon analytic, continental, historical and psychological literature. The aim is to introduce the student to advance themes in philosophy of perception through this assessment of Broad’s comparative phenomenology. The class will be conducted as a seminar with student presentations

For relatively recent analytic discussion of these issues, the student might consult the optional reading Perception and Its Modalities edited by Dustin Stokes, Mohan Matthen, and Stephen Biggs. Oxford University Press, 2014.

 

PHIL0059 Philosophy, Politics and Economics of Health

Module Leader: James Wilson

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: B

Shared: MA

Assessment: Essay 4,500 words
 

Description: This module examines some central ethical, economic and political problems facing health policy in the UK and abroad, especially in relation to social justice. Topics covered include: how to allocate healthcare resources (e.g. should the NHS cover all new drug treatments, regardless of how expensive they are? Who should decide?); the appropriate role of the state in protecting and promoting health (e.g. should smoking be banned?); when inequalities in health and life expectancy are unfair; and special challenges posed by infectious diseases.

Reading list: http://readinglists.ucl.ac.uk/modules/phil0059.html

PHIL0066 The Philosophy of Altruism

Module Leader: Ben Sorgiovanni

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: B

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: Essay 4,500 words

Description: Effective Altruism is a social movement that encourages people to do good and to use evidence and careful reasoning to make their altruistic efforts maximally effective. Though the movement is relatively young, it has already had a significant impact. This module considers philosophical questions that are important for both evaluating and guiding the movement. They include: Are we obligated to give to charity? Should we always save the greater number? Should we always give to the most effective charities? Is it wrong to make the world worse for future generations? Should we be vegetarians? Is it wrong to contribute to collective harms? Is it wrong to support sweatshops? Can small harms to the many outweigh severe harms to the few? Should we be Effective Altruists?

Sample Reading

• Peter Singer, ‘Famine, Affluence, and Morality’, Philosophy & Public Affairs 1 (1972): 229–243

• Alastair Norcross, ‘Puppies, Pigs, and People’, Philosophical Perspectives 18 (2004): 229–245

• Julia Nefsky, ‘Fairness, Participation, and the Real Problem of Collective Harm’, Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 5 (2015): 245–271

Module Assessment

The module is assessed by a summative essay. For BA students, the maximum length is strictly 3500 words. For MA students, the maximum length is strictly 4000 words. For MPhil students, the maximum length is strictly 4500 words.

Essay questions are modelled on the questions listed above.

Students are strongly encouraged to write a formative essay, which is due around the end of week 8. The formative essay is intended to serve as a draft of the summative and should therefore answer the same question. The maximum length is strictly 2000 words.

PHIL0067 Free Speech and Theories of Autonomy

Module Leader: Robert Simpson

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: B

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: One essay (4,500 words)
 

Description: This module investigates two complementary topics: (1) theories of autonomy, as they have been developed by philosophers writing about ethics and the self, and (2) defences of free speech, as they have been developed (and criticised) by legal and political theorists. With respect to (1), we’re interested in what it means to be autonomous, how and why the process of desire-formation has a bearing on a person’s autonomy, and whether it is possible for someone to autonomous desire their own subordination. With respect to (2), we’re interested in what kind of conception of autonomy – and of the individual, as such – different theorists have invoked in seeking to defend free speech, and what kinds of theoretical justifications for free speech can be developed in light of different conceptions of autonomy. The insights into the nature of autonomy that we gain from thinking about the topics in part (1), will inform the critical inquiry that we carry out in part (2). Assessment is via a major essay, and there will usually be some kind of minor, reading-related tasks that you’re required to complete during the term. Classes are a mixture of lectures, small-group discussion, and whole group discussion. Representative examples of readings that we look at during the course are John Christman, “Autonomy and personal history” (Canadian Journal of Philosophy 21/1, 1991, pp. 1-24), and Susan Brison, “The autonomy defense of free speech” (Ethics 108/2, 1998, pp./ 312-39).

PHIL0068 Metaethics

Module Leader: Ben Sorgiovanni

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: B

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: One essay (4,500 words)

 

Description: Module Content and Indicative Topics

This module will introduce you to contemporary metaethics, a discipline which asks philosophical questions about ethics. The course focuses on three kinds of questions in particular: 
1.    Psychological and semantic (What is it to make a moral judgment? What is the connection between moral judgment and motivation? Are moral claims capable of being true or false?)  
2.    Metaphysical (Are there moral facts? Are these facts independent of our moral practices and beliefs? Are they part of the natural world?) 
3.    Epistemic (Is there such a thing as moral knowledge? If so, how do we acquire it? Are the emotions, for instance, a source of knowledge in ethics?) 

In the course of exploring these questions, we’ll familiarise ourselves with and critically assess debates between:  

Cognitivists and non-cognitivists about the nature of moral judgment and discourse 

Realists and anti-realists about the existence of moral facts 

Naturalists and non-naturalists about the nature of moral facts 

Empiricists and intuitionists about the nature of moral knowledge 

Teaching Delivery 

This module is delivered in weekly two-hour classes, which are a mixture of lecture and discussion. Students are expected to read the compulsory reading set each week and prepare for discussion in the seminars. 

This module has historically been popular. If you try to register on this module, we would advise exploring additional options, just in case. 

By the end of the module, you should be able to: 

• Understand and explain the broadest aims and questions of contemporary metaethics. 

• Understand and explain the most popular contemporary metaethical theories and some prominent problems and questions investigated by contemporary philosophers in this area. 

• Philosophically evaluate and assess these theories and the answers given to these problems and questions, and understand what kinds of considerations are relevant to this assessment. 

• Understand and explain how these theories and questions, and their evaluation, connect with one another and with broader philosophical issues. 

Recommended Reading 

In preparation for the module, we advise reading the following core texts. These can be found in the UCL Library or online through UCL Library Services: 

• The International Encyclopedia for Ethics, ed. Hugh LaFollette, is a great resource for short introductory articles to topics. You could start by reading the article on metaethics, written by Jonas Olson. Other good articles include those on moral naturalism, non-naturalism, non-cognitivism, quasi-realism, and error theory. 

• Copp, David, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory. Oxford University Press, 2007, chapters 1, 3, 4, 5 

PHIL0078 Formal Epistemology

Module Leader: Luke Fenton-Glynn

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: A

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: 70% Essay (2,500 words) plus 2 x Exercise Sets (Each 15% and approx 6 hours work each)

Description: Our strength of beliefs influence our decision making. But how should we measure strength of belief, and what rational constraints are there on one's strength of belief? How should one's strengths of belief change in response to evidence? And how exactly ought one's strength of beliefs feed through into rational decision making?

These are the central questions that will be tackled in this module, where students will be introduced to the probabilistic representation of strength of belief, arguments for the rationality of probabilistic degrees of belief, arguments for various rational constraints on those beliefs - including constraints concerning belief updates in response to evidence - and to decision theory.

Formal epistemology is an increasingly important area of philosophy, and its influence on other areas of philosophy (traditional epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, metaphysics, ethics, and political philosophy) has been profound. The field is also strongly interdisciplinary, with cross-overs into economics, statistics, computer science, and political science.

Key Text

Bradley, D. (2015): A Critical Introduction to Formal Epistemology (Bloomsbury).

Background Reading

Bradley, D. (2015): A Critical Introduction to Formal Epistemology (Bloomsbury).

Fenton-Glynn, L. (2015): ‘A Simple Introduction to Probability’ https://www.academia.edu/12094718/A_Simple_Introduction_to_Probability

Nozick, R. (1970): 'Newcomb's Problem and Two Principles of Choice', in N. Rescher et al. (eds.) Essays in Honor of Carl G. Hempel (Dordrecht: Reidel).


Topic 1: Overview & Introduction to Probability

Topic 2: The Probabilistic Representation of Degrees of Belief

Topic 3: Conditionalization

Topic 4: Prior Probabilities

Topic 5: Chance and Credence

Topic 6: Reflection & Disagreement

Topic 7: The Problem of Old Evidence

Topic 8: Knowledge & Probability

Topic 9: Epistemic & Causal Decision Theory

Topic 10: Imprecise Probabilities

PHIL0091 Practical Criticism 1

Module Leader: TBC

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: N/A

Shared: 1st Yr MPhil Stud Only

Assessment: Attendance and participation / commentaries

Description: This module is designed to train postgraduate students in the close readings of philosophical texts. One text will be chosen for the whole term and will be read in close detail. Students will write commentaries on the text every week. Texts can be either contemporary or historical and can vary year by year. Texts for Practical Criticism 1 will be theoretical in nature (i.e. on metaphysics, or epistemology, philosophy of mind or language, philosophy of logic, science or mathematics etc.) 

PHIL0092 Recent Philosophical Writings 1

Module Leaders: TBC

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: N/A

Shared: MPhil Stud & PhD

Assessment: Presentations, attendance and participation

Description: This module is designed to familiarize the student with recent research in philosophy in a diverse range of areas. Recent journal articles are discussed in a seminar led by student presentations. Each student on the course will be required to make a presentation at some point in the year. The seminars are fortnightly.

PHIL0097 Graduate Studies in Kant

Module Leader: Sebastian Gardner

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: C

Shared: MA

Assessment: Essay 4,500 words

Description: Kant's System of Freedom and Nature: The Third Critique. The Critique of the Power of Judgement ('Third Critique') seeks to transform the two great divisions of Kant's thought – the theory of nature presented in the Critique of Pure Reason, and the theory of freedom presented in Kant's practical works – into a unified philosophical system. The importance of this task for Kant and the difficulty that it poses are considerable. It is vital that the distinction of freedom and nature not be collapsed, since without it morality will be confused with empirical knowledge and nature with things in themselves, yet Kant's dualism generates a problem that, he makes clear, must be solved, for we cannot coherently regard ourselves in the same breath as members of two disjointed worlds, the one empirical and the other intelligible. Kant seeks accordingly in the Third Critique to show that his dualism can be mediated without being dismantled, and that the result has sufficient coherence for the purposes of human reason. This involves the introduction of major new elements, and the extension of Kant's philosophy to two areas not previously treated, namely aesthetics and biology. Their common significance, Kant argues, is that they disclose a purposiveness in nature, a meaning in appearances, that transcends natural scientific knowledge and lends the world an aspect of human intelligibility, whereby we find ourselves at home in it.

The course is divided into three parts. Part One is devoted to making clear Kant's need to provide a mediation of freedom and nature. In the first week (which will provide those who have not studied Kant previously with a background for what follows) we look at the 'great chasm', as Kant calls it, separating the domains of freedom and nature, and at contemporary critics of his dualism. The second week examines Kant's philosophy of history, in which we see his commitment to interpreting history both as a natural process, hence as subject to empirical law, and as answering to the interests of human freedom. This raises in a new form, which Kant has not yet elucidated, the question of how such a double view is possible.

Part Two looks at the main divisions of the Third Critique, the Critique of the Aesthetic Power of Judgement, and the Critique of the Teleological Power of Judgement. We begin with Kant's account of judgements of taste. The key to attributions of beauty to objects lies, Kant proposes, in the special harmony of our cognitive powers that they occasion, a state of 'free play' of imagination and understanding, yielding a pure pleasure in which the subject registers the object's 'form of purposiveness'. Kant next sets the sublime in opposition to the beautiful. The objects we call sublime are distinguished by their formlessness and defy assimilation by our mental powers, but the mixture of pain and pleasure that defines sublimity is also, according to Kant, an experience of nature's purposiveness, albeit of a 'negative' kind. We then look at Kant's proto-romantic theory of fine art, and his interpretation of the beautiful as a 'symbol' of the supersensible.

In the Critique of the Teleological Power of Judgement Kant attempts to do justice to the difference of organic from inorganic nature, and our conceptualization of the former as purposively organized. In defending natural teleology, Kant must walk a fine line between affirming that there is (contra the Darwinian world-view) more to nature than mechanistic causality, and readmitting (contra Aristotelians and deists) dogmatic metaphysics. We look first at Kant's analysis of the appearance that organisms give of a species of form that transcends mechanism, and then at his use of transcendental idealism to reconcile the purposiveness of organic nature with mechanistic explanation.

Returning to the original question of how nature and freedom can be unified, in Part Three we look at the two places in the text where Kant gives his explicit answer to the question. First, Kant formulates in the Introduction to the Third Critique an original and complex hypothesis, which supplements his earlier teachings, namely that our power of judgement, like our other rational powers, has an a priori principle of its own. The principle in question is that of nature's purposiveness for our cognition. In the final week we consider the concept introduced late in the Third Critique of the 'intuitive intellect', described by Kant as a mode of cognition in which the dualities constitutive of human reason are transcended and the whole is apprehended prior to its parts. We have no knowledge of the intuitive intellect, just as we have no knowledge of God, but the Idea thereof is necessary for us. Though intended by Kant to bring to a conclusion his argument with Spinoza – whose monism Kant regarded as the precise antithesis of his own standpoint, and as its strongest competitor – the concept of the intuitive intellect stimulated Kant's major idealist successors to regard the Third Critique not as a systematic end point but as the basis for new philosophical construction.

            The Third Critique contains therefore an aesthetic theory and a biological theory, each of which can be taken on their own. Considered as a whole, the work represents the consummation of Kant's system and provided the springboard for German Idealism, while Kant's problem of reconciling freedom and nature endures to the present day.

The weekly readings consist of manageable extracts from the Critique of the Power of Judgement. The course is designed in such a way that, as a cumulative picture of Kant's system builds up, each weekly topic can be understood as concerned with an independent philosophical problem.

PHIL0099 MPhil Stud Thesis Preparation Seminar

Module Leader: TBC

Level: 7

Term: 1 and 2

Area: N/A

Shared: 2nd Yr MPhil Stud Only

Assessment: Presentations

Description: This course will instruct MPhil Stud students in the preparation for their thesis, which they will start writing in their second year. The course will address questions to do with the content of particular students' theses, as well as general advice about the structure and planning of thesis preparation. Students will be expected to write, distribute to the class, and orally present, two pieces of their own thesis research each term.

PHIL0165 The Philosophy and Ethics of Climate Change

Module Leader: Rich Healey

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: B

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: 100% Coursework (4,500 words)

Climate change not only raises extremely important practical challenges, but a host of deep ethical and epistemic questions. The ethical questions you will study include the proper scope of moral concern (e.g., human centred versus biocentric views); individual and collective responsibilities to mitigate climate change; what we owe to future generations; and the permissibility of geoengineering. You will also examine epistemic questions about the nature and status of evidence for climate change, including the epistemic status of climate change models, and which types of climate change scepticism are reasonable. Core skills focused on are those of philosophical reasoning and argumentation. The module would be suitable for non-philosophy students with an existing interest or expertise in climate change, but such students may find it hard going at times.

PHIL0167 Perception and its History

Module Leader: Mark Kalderon

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: A

Shared: MA

Assessment: Essay 4,500 words

Description: The course will involve a close reading of a historical text on the nature of perception. A different text will be chosen each time the course is offered. Contemporary philosophy of perception is very different from earlier historical discussions, especially in the pre-modern era. This is not due solely to advances in psychology, but the kind of questions that are asked are often very different. Part of the point of engaging in these texts is to bracket our own presuppositions about the nature of perception so as to become critically conscious of them. Sometimes these may be reaffirmed. Sometimes, however, they may be called into doubt. The student will gain an in depth understanding of the text under study, learn about close readings and historical scholarship, and hopefully gain a new perspective on the nature of perception.

In 2022/23 the text will be Plato’s dialogue Timaeus in Cornford’s translation and commentary, Plato’s Cosmology, The Timaeus of Plato, 1935 Hackett Publishing.

Teaching Delivery

Teaching will consist in a weekly two hour seminar.

Assessment

This module will be assessed by essay. No paper topic will be assigned. Instead you must meet individually with the instructor after reading week to discuss your potential paper topic and receive guidance concerning it.

 

PHIL0177 Recent Work in Moral Philosophy

Module Leader: Joe Horton

Level: 7

Term: 1

Area: B

Shared: MA

Assessment: Essay 4,500 words

Description: This module provides students with an opportunity for deep engagement with recent work in moral philosophy. We cover five topics across the ten classes, with two classes on each topic. These topics are likely to include:


Moral Aggregation

Is there any number of people you should save from a large burden, such as paralysis, rather than saving one person from a very large burden, such as death? Is there any number of people you should save from a small burden, such as a migraine, rather than saving one person from a very large burden, such as death? Many people answer these questions ‘yes’ and ‘no’, respectively. Can this position be defended?

> Indicative Reading: Alex Voorhoeve, ‘How Should We Aggregate Competing Claims?’, Ethics 125 (2014): 64–87


Collective Harm

Many of our choices collectively inflict grave harms on humans, animals, and the environment. Think of buying clothes from sweatshops, eating meat, or driving gas-guzzling cars. However, when considered individually, these choices seem to make extremely little difference to anyone, and they might even make no difference at all. This makes it difficult to explain why we ought not to make these choices. Is there a plausible explanation?

> Indicative Reading: Julia Nefsky, ‘Fairness, Participation, and the Real Problem of Collective Harm’, Oxford Studies in Normative Ethics 5 (2015): 245–271


Moral Uncertainty

You have a slight preference for the burger, but the salad also sounds nice. You stare hard into the distance, wondering whether the vegetarians are right. You cannot decide—it seems just as likely that they are right as that they are wrong. What should you do?

You give up on assessing vegetarianism and reason as follows: If the vegetarians are wrong, it is slightly better for you to choose the burger, for that is what you prefer. If they are right, it is much better for you to choose the salad, for choosing the burger would be morally very bad. So, taking both prudential and moral considerations into account, the expected value of the salad is greater than that of the burger. So, you should choose the salad.

Your reasoning seems plausible. But it assumes that what you should do is sensitive to your moral uncertainty—to your levels of confidence in competing moral theories. Is this assumption correct? What are its consequences?

> Indicative Reading: William MacAskill and Toby Ord, 'Why Maximize Expected Choice-Worthiness?', Noûs 54 (2020): 327–353

Term 2

PHIL0042 Adorno

Module Leader: Tom Stern

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: C

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: 100% Coursework (4,500 words)

Description: The course will provide a detailed overview of the philosopher T W Adorno’s views on art, politics and the relationship between the two. We will study certain key primary texts as well as some of the important secondary literature. The main texts for the course will be Adorno’s Minima Moralia and Adorno and Horkheimer’s The Dialectic of Enlightenment. In addition to these primary texts, Brian O’Connor’s Adorno (Routledge) provides a good introduction to Adorno’s thought.

PHIL0057 Topics in German Idealism

Module Leader: Rory Phillips

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: C

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: Essay 4,500 words

Description: This course focuses on central issues in the writings of the German idealists - Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel. Each of these philosophers thinks that self-consciousness is the central issue in philosophy. In this course, we will survey the different ways in which each of the idealists conceived of self-consciousness. For Fichte, the most important way that our self-consciousness is given is our self-consciousness as moral beings. For Schelling, the most important is our self-consciousness as natural beings. For Hegel, the most important is our historical self-consciousness. Therefore in this course we shall pay particular attention to Fichte's moral philosophy, Schelling's development of Fichte's position into a philosophy of nature, and Hegel's philosophy of history.

PHIL0069 Aristotle’s Theoretical Philosophy

Module Leader: Simona Aimar

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: C

Shared: MA

Assessment: Essay (4,500 words) 80%, Presentation 20%

This course will examine central aspects of Aristotle’s Theoretical Philosophy. The course will presuppose basic knowledge of Aristotle’s work and study some of his views at a very advanced level. This year, we will focus on essence and necessity in Aristotle. Students are expected to study in depths parts of Aristotle’s Metaphysics Z and Posterior Analytics, and to engage in depth with the secondary literature. The course has three compulsory assignments: an essay and two presentations.  

PHIL0073 Feminism and Philosophy

Module Leader: Rich Healey

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: B

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: One essay (4,500 words)

Description: This course will introduce students to some central topics in feminist philosophy. Topics will include oppression, misogyny, sex and gender, intersectionality, pornography, sexual consent, beauty norms, and work and the family. Through consideration of both classic and contemporary feminist writing, students will be asked to think carefully and critically about feminist approaches to these areas of significant moral, political, and social concern.

PHIL0077 Equality

Module Leader: Rich Healey

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: B

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: One essay (4,500 words)

Description: In everyday moral and political arguments appeals to equality are ubiquitous. But what do these appeals amount to? In this course we will attempt to gain a deeper understanding of equality in moral and political thought. The first part of the course will focus on the idea of moral equality. What grounds all human beings’ equal moral status? What does it even mean to say that all human beings are morally equal? Is the moral equality of all people consistent with our favourable treatment of our children, family, and friends? Are non-human animals morally equal to humans? In the second part of the course, we will focus on the idea of political equality. Specifically, we will consider what the equal status of all citizens implies about how we should distribute power and make political decisions. Does a commitment to the equality of all citizens commit us to democratic rule? If the political decisions made in Community A significantly affect the members of Community B, should the members of Community B have a (democratic?) say in Community A’s decision? Might this commit us to some form of global democracy?

PHIL0079 Advanced Topics on Moral Philosophy: Responsibility, Luck and Excuses

Module Leader: Ulrike Heuer

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: B

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: One essay (4,500 words)
 

Description: We will explore theories of responsibility, in particular their explanations of its grounds, its scope and its limits. We will also discuss some fundamental skeptical challenges to the practice of holding ourselves and others responsible. In light of these general considerations, we will then examine more specific topics, such as responsibility for attitudes, moral luck, blameworthiness, excuses and collective responsibility. The aim of the module is to develop an understanding of the nature of responsibility, and the resources and problems of contemporary approaches.

Introductory readings:

• R. Jay Wallace, Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments, Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard University Press 1996.

• Susan Wolf, Freedom Within Reason, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1990. • Daniel Statman (ed), Moral Luck, SUNY Press 1993.

 

PHIL0086 Reasons and Normativity

Module Leader: Ulrike Heuer

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: B

Shared: MA

Assessment: Essay 4,500 words

Description: We will read papers and chapters of books published in recent years. The topics may include questions regarding the nature of practical reasons and their relation to values, what it is to act for a reason, and how doing so relates to acting intentionally, as well as questions about the nature and the normativity of practical rationality.

For further information about the specific content of the module in the current year, please don’t hesitate to contact the module leader:  u.heuer@ucl.ac.uk

PHIL0087 Research Seminar in Legal Philosophy

Module Leader: Robert Simpson

Level: 7

Term: 2 and 3

Area: B

Shared: MA

Assessment: One essay (4,500 words)


Description: This module is intended to introduce students to contemporary research in legal and political philosophy. It has an unusual format. The most distinctive feature of the format is a series of meetings that will run in conjunction with the UCL Colloquium in Law, Philosophy, and Politics (LPP). The LPP Colloquium is a joint enterprise between the Philosophy Department, the Faculty of Law, and the School of Public Policy Each, and it runs from January to May each year (across terms 2 and 3). At the LPP Colloquium, a series of high-profile visiting speakers discuss a recent paper of theirs in political, legal, or moral philosophy. The papers are not on any set theme, beyond being current work in these disciplinary areas. Papers are pre-circulated, so the whole meeting is devoted to discussion, and after the workshop there are normally drinks with attendees (which gives you a chance to meet the speaker in person, if you like). There will normally be six of these sessions, held from January to May. For each of them you have a one-hour pre-meeting to discuss the paper as a small group, with the module convenor, before joining the with the speaker and a larger audience for a two-hour Q&A session. In addition to the LPP Colloquium meetings, there will be some additional meetings scheduled to discuss background work in the philosophy of law, and to discuss assessment requirements. Further reading will be assigned for these meetings as well. Assessment is via a major essay, and there are a few other minor, reading-related tasks that you’re required to complete during the term. The schedule can be a little haphazard, but – to a rough approximation – you will be required to attend a meeting for this module slightly more often than once a fortnight, through terms 2 and 3.

PHIL0093 Research Seminar: 19th Century Philosophy

Module Leader: Sebastian Gardner

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: C

Shared: MA

Assessment: Essay 4,500 words

Description: The course will focus on two thinkers, and two texts which form a natural pair, for each was written with the other in mind: Hegel's Science of Logic (1816), and Schelling's The Grounding of Positive Philosophy (1842-43). Historically and systematically, the intertwined opposition of Schelling and Hegel dominated the nineteenth century, extended into the twentieth, and endures to the present day. Among those whose philosophical writings cannot be understood fully without reference to the argument of Schelling and Hegel are Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Marx, Heidegger, Sartre, and Adorno.

                These works of Schelling's and Hegel's belong to what may be called late German Idealism.  The early phase, which is centred on Fichte's transformation of Kant, and Schelling's early challenge to Fichte in the 1790s and early 1800s, is covered in another course, Topics in German Idealism (PHIL0057), taught this year by Rory Phillips. The early material lies in the background to the later opposition of Schelling and Hegel, which can however be picked up directly for reasons explain below, and the course does not presuppose acquaintance with Fichte, nor even with Kant.

                Early German Idealism is concerned, in rough characterization, with fixing the problems bequeathed by Kant's philosophy, largely by exploiting themes and concepts that he had himself introduced. The project consisted, as it is often put, in getting beyond Kant by means of Kant. Its dominant themes were the metaphysics of human freedom, the systematic unity of theoretical and practical philosophy (that is, epistemology & metaphysics on the one hand, and moral & political philosophy on the other), and the issue of what to conserve of the legacy of Christian belief. These issues had been run through and brought to a conclusion by about 1804. Which is not to say that they had been resolved, or that a consensus had been reached; what had been clarified was simply the existence of two possible standpoints. On the one side, a broadly subjectivist approach, originating with Kant and pursued by Fichte, which sets out to solve philosophical problems on the basis that the difficulties we encounter in thinking about ourselves and the world are functions of our mode of cognition and volition; and on the other, a so-called 'absolute' standpoint, defined and defended by Schelling, that purports to transcend the distinction of subjectivity and objectivity.

                In this course, we take the latter as our starting point. 'Transcending the distinction of subjectivity and objectivity' may sound technical and opaque, there is nothing arcane to it: it is simply the default assumption of common sense and all philosophy up until Kant, viz. that metaphysics is in the business of saying 'How Things Are', and not merely 'How We May Take Things To Be For The Limited Purposes of Finite Human Reason'.

                At issue in the argument of Hegel and Schelling is a new, single, all-decisive, bewildering, but in a sense quite simple question, which is the one and only systematic topic of the course: Is reality constituted by reason? Hegel answers Yes, Schelling answers No. To repeat: Both take for granted the standpoint of non-subjectivist, non-Fichtean, 'absolute' idealism, but each thinks that, when we occupy this God's-eye standpoint, what we see is quite different.

                What you may conclude from the course is that the question is empty, or that it can be deflated and replaced by some more tractable question in philosophical logic, and that, to the extent that it defines the axis of the opposition of Hegel and Schelling, their disagreement is unreal – they might as well be disputing the anatomy of unicorns. But if the course succeeds in doing justice to Schelling and Hegel, it will become clear, I hope, that if 'Is reality constituted by reason?' is indeed a non-question, then this result is no less extraordinary – wacky and nebulous – than Hegel's claim that 'the rational is the real' and Schelling's claim that 'reason is grounded in madness'.

                The course will also seek to persuade you that the argument of Schelling and Hegel can be resolved in favour of one of the disputants, though in the interest of giving each a fair hearing, I will keep my own view under wraps.

                I should point out that this is not a survey course, that it involves close reading of challenging but penetrable primary texts, and that it does not aim to encompass the vast territory covered in the writings of Schelling and Hegel – though it will make contact with numerous more familiar and concrete topics, including human freedom, ethics, religion, and the philosophy of nature. The themes that occupied early German Idealism – themselves perennial problems of philosophy – received in Schelling and Hegel a fresh treatment, on a new plane, free from the constraints of Kantian subjectivism, which in their view, led to a brief holiday from wholehearted metaphysics, to which absolute idealism now returns. Such at any rate is their intention: namely to rejoin the great Western tradition and set themselves in a direct line of descent from the ancients.

                Hegel's Science of Logic is a big book, and we won't need to read it in full. Schelling's, which comes from lectures and much less technical, is short enough to read in its entirety, though again the weekly seminars will focus on selections. And – to say it again – the course focusses on one single, albeit infinitely subtle, question. So the narrative will not be convoluted.

The texts are:

Hegel, The Science of Logic (1816), trans. G. di Giovanni (Cambridge: CUP, 2010). (There is an earlier translation, Science of Logic, trans. A. V. Miller (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International, 1989), still in print, not as good but adequate.)

Schelling, The Grounding of Positive Philosophy: The Berlin Lectures (1842-43), trans. and ed. B. Matthews (Albany, NY: SUNY, 2007).

PHIL0098 Practical Criticism 2

Module Leader: TBC

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: N/A

Shared: 1st Yr MPhil Stud Only

Assessment: Attendance and participation / commentaries

Description: This module is designed to continue to train postgraduate students in the close readings of philosophical texts. One text will be chosen for the whole term and will be read in close detail. Students will write commentaries on the text every week. Texts can be either contemporary or historical and can vary year by year. Texts for Practical Criticism 2 will be normative in nature (i.e. on ethics, or political philosophy, value theory generally etc.) 

PHIL0099 MPhil Stud Thesis Preparation Seminar

Module Leader: TBC

Level: 7

Term: 1 and 2

Area: N/A

Shared: 2nd Yr MPhil Stud Only

Assessment: Presentations

Description: This course will instruct MPhil Stud students in the preparation for their thesis, which they will start writing in their second year. The course will address questions to do with the content of particular students' theses, as well as general advice about the structure and planning of thesis preparation. Students will be expected to write, distribute to the class, and orally present, two pieces of their own thesis research each term.

PHIL0103 Research Seminar: Philosophy of Mind

Module Leader: Professor Lucy O'Brien

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: A

Shared: MA

Assessment: Essay 4,500 words
 

Description: This module is a research seminar in the philosophy of mind. In 2022/23 the module teacher (Lucy O’Brien) will present work on her current book project (supported by a BA/Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowship) on the ‘Pains and Pleasures of Interpersonal Self-Consciousness’.
Alongside the presentation of work from the draft of the book, we will explore core related readings. The pains and pleasures of a human life are closely tied to our consciousness of ourselves as the focus of consciousness of others. We will look at the challenge we face in giving an account of interpersonal self-consciousness – such self-consciousness demands that we make sense of both a doubling of standpoints, me and my observer, and an integrated single intersubjective structure. We will consider a way of making sense of the phenomenon, consider what kinds of stimulus occasion interpersonal self-consciousness, ask what role such consciousness plays in our knowledge of other minds, and how we vary in our self-conscious lives. We will also consider how human beings relate to, and aim practically to control, their own social self-consciousness, and others’.

PHIL0119 Recent Philosophical Writings 2

Module Leaders: TBC

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: N/A

Shared: MPhil Stud and PhD

Assessment: Presentations, attendance and participation

Description: Second year of module designed to familiarize MPhil students with recent research in philosophy in a diverse range of areas. Recent journal articles are discussed in a seminar led by student presentations. Each student on the module will be required to make a presentation at some point in the year. The seminars are fortnightly.

PHIL0160 Philosophy of Space and Time

Module Leader: Luke Fenton-Glynn

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: A

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: Essay 4,500 words
 

Description: In this module, you will study key philosophical issues relating to space and time. When it comes to the philosophy of space, the module will focus upon the longstanding debate between absolutists and relativists about space considering the key arguments on both sides of what has been an important philosophical debate from Early Modern times to the present day. The module will then examine how the modern theories of Special Relativity and General Relativity suggests that the distinction between space and time may be less sharp than it first appears. When it comes to time, the module will address questions concerning whether there are reasons to doubt the reality of time, debates about the nature of time (such as why time seems to ‘pass’ and have a ‘flow’), and what accounts for the direction of time will also be addressed.


Sample topics (may vary slightly year to year):

Absolutism & Relationalism about Space in Newtonian Physics

Leibniz’s Arguments for Relationalism

Newton’s & Kant’s Arguments for Absolutism

Galilean Relativity

Special Relativity

General Relativity

Is Time Real?

Special Relativity & The Metaphysics of Time

Time Travel

The Direction of Time
 

Teaching Delivery

There will be one 2 hour seminar per week. You will be required to read a set of ‘Key Readings’ each week (normally 1-2 articles or equivalent) prior to the seminar.

By the end of the module, you should:

Have a sound understanding of the central metaphysical debates concerning the nature of space and time.

Have a sufficient understanding of the physics of space and time to grasp how this interacts with the metaphysics (though please note that no background in physics or maths is presumed).

Be equipped with the understanding and conceptual resources needed to contribute to the philosophical debates about space and time yourself.

Have further honed your ability to analyse arguments, and construct rigorous arguments yourself. Have improved your essay-writing skills.

Recommended Reading

In preparation for the module, we advise reading the following core texts. These can be found in the UCL Library:

Maudlin, T. (2012): Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press)

Dainton, B. (2010): Time and Space, Second Edition (Abingdon: Routledge)

PHIL0166 Personal Identity

Module Leader: Rory Madden
Level: 7
Term: 2
Area: A
Shared: BA and MA
Assessment: 100% Coursework (4,500 words)

 

Description: What are we? What does it take for one of us to survive from one time to another? Are we material things?  Are we brains, animals, souls, computer programs, or something else?  How do we relate to our bodies? This module addresses questions of personal identity. While some seminal early modern texts will be highlighted, such as Locke’s Essay, we will primarily scrutinize relevant theories and arguments from recent analytic metaphysics and the philosophy of mind.
Background reading for Week 1
• Locke, J., 1975, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, P. Nidditch (ed.), Oxford: Clarendon Press.  (II.xxvii) ‘Of Identity and Diversity’
Further reading
• Snowdon, P. 1990 ‘Persons, Animals and Ourselves’ in The Person and the Human Mind: Issues in Ancient and Modern Philosophy, C. Gill (ed.), Oxford: Clarendon Press, pp. 83–107. Reprinted in Crane and Farkas (eds.) 2004 Metaphysics: A Guide and Anthology
• Olson, E. 1997 The Human Animal New York: Oxford University Press
• Parfit, D. 2012 ‘We Are Not Human Beings’ in Philosophy 87: 5–28
• Campbell, T. and J. McMahan, 2017 ‘Animalism and the Varieties of Conjoined Twinning’ in S. Blatti and P. Snowdon (eds.) Essays on Animalism: Persons, Animals, and Identity, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

PHIL0178 Research Seminar in Realism and Antirealism

Module Leader: José Zalabardo

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: A

Shared: MA

Assessment: One essay (4,500 words)

General subject matter of the seminar

In very general terms, the realism/antirealism debate concerns the status of the following thought:

(A) How things stand in the world is, in many respects, independent of us, and yet

(B) we can gain cognitive access to how things stand in the world; that is,

(B1) we can represent things in thought and language as being a certain way, which may or

may not coincide with how things are

and

(B2) some of these representations can achieve the status of knowledge—we can know that things are as we represent them as being.

The debate arises from a perceived tension between A and B—from arguments to the effect that representation or knowledge are only possible if the independence of the world is abandoned or qualified. Antirealists invoke these arguments to support positions on which reality is somehow dependent on us. Realists maintain that these arguments fail to undermine the independence of the world.

These debates have adopted a wide variety of shapes. The general goal of this seminar is to study specific manifestations of the issue.

The 2022-23 Edition. Pragmatist Semantics

This year the seminar will be based on a book draft I’m working on, provisionally entitled “Pragmatist Semantics: A Use-Based Approach to Linguistic Representation”. We will discuss chapters of the draft as well as related readings by other authors. Open discussion introduced by student presentations.
Assessment: Essay topics to be agreed with tutor

 

SOME BACKGROUND READING

Blackburn, Simon. 1980. "Truth, Realism, and the Regulation of Theory". In Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Vol. V, Studies in Epistemology, edited by P. French, T. Uehling, Jr. and H. K. Wettstein. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Dennett, Daniel C. 1987. "True Believers". In The Intentional Stance. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.

Dreier, James. 2004. "Meta-Ethics and the Problem of Creeping Minimalism". Philosophical Perspectives 18:23-44.

Jackson, Frank. 1998. From Metaphysics to Ethics: A Defense of Conceptual Analysis. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lewis, David. 2009. "Ramseyan humility". In Conceptual Analysis and Philosophical Naturalism, edited by D. Braddon-Mitchell and R. Nola. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.

Macarthur, David, and Huw Price. 2007. "Pragmatism, Quasi-realism, and the Global Challenge". In New Pragmatists, edited by C. Misak. Oxford: Clarendon.

Price, Huw. 2011. "Naturalism and the Fate of the M-Worlds". In Naturalism Without Mirrors. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Quine, Willard Van Orman. 1960. Word and Object. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, Chapter 2.

I have discussed some of the ideas that I develop in the book in some published articles, including:

"Belief, Desire and the Prediction of Behaviour", Philosophical Issues 29 (2019), pp. 295-310.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/phis.12155

"The Primacy of Practice". Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement 86 (2019), pp. 181-99.
https://www.cambridge.org/core/journals/royal-institute-of-philosophy-supplements/article/abs/primacy-of-practice/E388DE2CD07C8AD04257B909A1FC0C60
"Empiricist Pragmatism", Philosophical Issues 26 (2016), pp. 441-61.
https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/phis.12071

PHIL0184 Philosophy of Arithmetic and Incompleteness

Module Leader: Tim Button

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: A

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: 3 problem sets (15%, 15% and 20%) plus essay 3,500 (50%)
 

Description: Arithmetic is the branch of mathematics which studies the natural numbers — i.e. the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, and so on — and operations on the numbers — like addition and multiplication. This course explores the features that make arithmetic distinctive, and pose unique philosophical challenges. The path through the course is as follows.

1. Arithmetic is infinitary, abstract, a priori and apodictic, necessary, completely general, and scientifically indispensable. You will start by surveying these features, and encounter the general idea of a formal theory of arithmetic.

2. A common sentiment is that, in mathematics, consistency suffices for existence. You will explore this idea, understanding what it means to describe a theory as "consistent", and how one might establish consistency. This will lead into into a discussion of Hilbert's programme, which aimed to provide proofs that (various) mathematical theories are consistent. Famously, this programme floundered when Gödel discovered his incompleteness theorems.

3. You will learn about the technical details behind the incompleteness theorems, including such concepts as: (computable) enumerability, representability, the arithmetization of syntax, Tarski's Diagonal Lemma, Gödel sentences, and consistency sentences.

4. Armed with this technical knowledge, you will assess the philosophical significance of these results, both for Hilbert's programme and for other philosophical positions.

5. To finish the course, you will consider other approaches to the philosophy of arithmetic, and how they deal with the phenomenon of incompleteness.

The course will be based entirely weekly lectures, backed up with classes. Each lecture/class will have compulsory readings.

Please note that the course combines philosophical and formal elements! Although it is not a formal prerequisite, the course will presuppose introductory logic (at the level of first year Introduction to Logic 1 & 2); at the very least, you will need to be comfortable with how first-order logic works. The course will not presuppose any particular prior knowledge of mathematics; only that you know how to count, and can make sense of expressions like ‘x2 + 3x + 2 = 0’ (even if you cannot quite remember how to solve it). Still, if the very idea of looking at an expression like that fills you with horror, this course is not for you. Half of your final grade will be based on your performance in problem sets, which will help to reinforce your understanding of the technical details behind the incompleteness theorems.

 
PHIL0189 Culture, Heritage and Critique

Module Leader: James Wilson

Level: 7

Term: 2

Area: B

Shared: BA and MA

Assessment: 100% Coursework (4,500 words)

Description: This module examines key philosophical questions about culture, public art, and cultural heritage. Topics may include: how to define culture and to adjudicate between competing conceptualisations of culture; how to theorise the relationships between cultures, and in particular how to reconcile tensions between local and particularising models of culture, and broader liberal egalitarian commitments to equality and universalism; how best to make sense of ideas of cultural property and cultural appropriation; the cultural, aesthetic and ethical implications of putting artefacts, and human bodies on public display; and when cultural artefacts such as statues should be removed from public display.
 

Term 3

PHIL0116 Research Seminar in Moral Philosophy: Profound Impairment

Module Leaders: Sarah Richmond & John Vorhaus

Level: 7

Term: 3

Area: B

Assessment: Essay 4,500 words

 

Description: This course will explore a series of questions in moral and political philosophy that apply to persons characterized by profound impairments, including people suffering from advanced dementia and people with profound and multiple learning difficulties and disabilities. Profound impairment raises a series of questions about the content and application of a set of moral and political concepts, including human dignity, respect for persons, personhood, capabilities, dependency, citizenship, rights, caring relationships and moral status. This last includes questions about the status of persons whose capacities and levels of functioning are broadly equivalent to or less extensive than those of other higher primates. Topics to be covered include some (but not necessarily all) of the following: Human dignity; Personhood; Respect for persons; Dependency; Capability and functioning; Citizenship; Rights; Caring relationships; Moral status; Autonomy; Disability (the social and medical models); Wittgensteinian ethics.

The following readings will give students an idea of the sort of literature we will be discussing on the course.

The online Stanford entry on “Cognitive Disability and Moral Status” .

These anthologies:

(Eds) Brownlee and Cureton (2009), Disability & Disadvantage (OUP: Oxford)

(Eds) Kittay and Carlson (2010), Cognitive Disability and Its Challenge to Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell: Oxford)

(Eds) Francis and Silvers (2000), Americans with Disabilities (Routledge: New York)

PHIL0TBC Recent Work in Practical Philosophy

Module Leader: Doug Lavin

Level: 7

Term: 3

Area: A

Assessment: 100% Coursework (Essay 4,500 words)

Description: A graduate level study of some important recent work in practical philosophy. For more information please email d.lavin@ucl.ac.uk

PHIL0180 Carnap

Module Leader: Tim Button

Level: 7

Term: 3

Area: C

Assessment: 100% Coursework (4500 words)

Description: Rudolf Carnap was one of the most celebrated representatives of logical empiricism. This course focuses on his early work — in particular, his Der logische Aufbau der Welt (the Logical Structure of the World) — with the aim of understanding Carnap's empiricism in its historical context. Alongside the Aufbau, we will read parts of Carnap's doctoral dissertation Raum (Space) and Der Logische Syntax der Sprache (the Logical Syntax of Language).

The course has no specific prerequisites, and all texts will be read in English! However, be aware that Carnap frequently uses formal tools, and I will presume that all those enrolled on the course are familiar with the use of first-order logic as a device for formalization.


Note on areas: Optional modules available to graduates are classified as falling into one of three broad philosophical areas

(A) Theoretical (metaphysics, language, epistemology, etc.)
(B) Practical (in the Kantian sense; ethics, politics, aesthetics)
(C) Historical (ancient, continental, early modern, early analytic, etc.)

MPhil Stud students are expected to take at least two courses from each of these three areas.