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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Postgraduate Course: Environmental Ethics MSc (PHIL11124)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Course typeStandard AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) Credits20
Home subject areaPhilosophy Other subject areaNone
Course website None Taught in Gaelic?No
Course descriptionThis course examines some of the central theoretical and practical ethical questions arising out of the distinctive relation human beings have to the natural environment. The first half of the course will focus on theoretical topics, such as (nonexhaustive list): (i) how we should reason under uncertainty in long timescales, (ii) the nature and appropriate distribution of what's valuable, (iii) Parfit's 'non-identity problem' and 'repugnant conclusion', (iv) externalities, multi-generational prisoner's dilemmas, and tragedies of the commons, etc. The second half of the course will explore a variety of practical topics raised by environmental ethics, such as (nonexhaustive list): (i) carbon offsetting, (ii) direct action, (iii) cap and trade, (iv) geopolitical processes such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, (v) population control, (vi) food issues like genetically engineered crops and vegetarianism, (vii) the discount rates to use in economic models of the costs and benefits of mitigating climate change, etc.

Shared with the undergraduate version Environmental Ethics PHIL10147

Taught by Dr Matthew Chrisman

Formative feedback available;
- Two in class quizzes
- informal discussion of essay writing and topics
- opportunity to submit a formative essay by week 6 deadline
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Course Delivery Information
Delivery period: 2013/14 Semester 2, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Learn enabled:  Yes Quota:  5
Web Timetable Web Timetable
Course Start Date 13/01/2014
Breakdown of Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 13, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 9, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Additional Notes
Breakdown of Assessment Methods (Further Info) Written Exam 30 %, Coursework 60 %, Practical Exam 10 %
No Exam Information
Summary of Intended Learning Outcomes
-increased understanding of some foundational issues in ethical theory
-familiarity with some of the specific ethical issues raised by humans¿ relationship to nature
-improved ability to defend a philosophically controversial position
-improved critical reading and discussion skills
Assessment Information
30% Two In-Class Assessments (these will typically be closed-book short-answer quizzes lasting approximately 25 minutes each to assess the students¿ understanding of the key concepts necessary for addressing larger philosophical questions)
10% Class Participation, including tutorial presentations
60% Final Essay (2,500 words)

In class presentations will take place in weeks 4 and 7 approximately (the course organiser will confirm exact dates)

Final essay deadline: Monday 14th April 2014 by 12 noon
Word limit: 2500 words maximum
Return deadline: Tuesday 6th May 2014
Special Arrangements
Additional Information
Academic description Not entered
Syllabus See course description above for provisional outline of seminar and tutorial topics.
Transferable skills -Ability to develop convincing argument.
-Critical reading skills.
-Formal academic writing.
Reading list Here is an indicative and incomplete list (to be modified in line with particular topics taught each year):

John Broome, Climate Matters 2012, chs. 3-6 [Economics, Justice & Fairness, Private Morality, Goodness]
Derek Parfit, Reasons and Persons 1984, chs. 16-17 [The Non-Identity Problem, The Repugnant Conclusion]
Gregory Kavka, ¿The Paradox of Future Individuals¿ Philosophy & Public Affairs, vol. 11 (Spring 1982), pp. 93-112
Nicolas Stern, ¿Executive Summary of the Stern Review¿ URL=
William Nordhaus, ¿A Review of the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change¿, Journal of Economic Literature, vol. XLV (September 2007), pp. 686¿702
Mathew Humphrey, ¿Democratic Legitimacy, Public Justification and Environmental Direct Action¿, Political Studies, vol. 54 (2006) pp. 310-327
Peter Singer, ¿One Atmosphere¿, from his One World: The Ethics of Globalization 2002.
Dale Jamieson, ¿Ethics, Public Policy, and Global Warming¿ Science, Technology, Human Values vol. 17 (1992), pp. 139-153.
Stephen Gardiner, ¿A Perfect Moral Storm: Climate Change, Intergenerational Ethics, and the Problem pf Moral Corruption¿, Environmental Values, vol. 15 (2006), pp. 397-413.
Study Abroad Not entered
Study Pattern Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Matthew Chrisman
Tel: (0131 6)50 3648
Course secretaryMiss Lynsey Buchanan
Tel: (0131 6)51 5002
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