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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
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis is a course about the ethical questions arising out of the distinctive relation human beings have to the natural environment.

Shared with the undergraduate course Environmental Ethics PHIL10147

For courses co-taught with undergraduate students and with no remaining undergraduate spaces left, a maximum of 8 MSc students can join the course. Priority will be given to MSc students who wish to take the course for credit on a first come first served basis after matriculation.
Course description This 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, (v) the moral considerability of the Land, 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.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  7
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 13, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 7, Summative Assessment Hours 1, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 175 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 60 %, Practical Exam 40 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 30% Two in-class assessments to assess the students' understanding of the key concepts necessary for addressing larger philosophical questions
10% Tutorial Presentations (the course organiser will confirm exact dates)
60% Final Essay (2,500 words)

Final essay deadline: Monday 17th April 2017 by 12 noon
Word limit: 2500 words maximum (excluding references)
Return deadline: Tuesday 9th May 2017
Feedback - Informal discussion of essay writing and topics
- Students have the opportunity to submit a formative essay by week 6 deadline on Turnitin via Learn. The essay cannot be draft of summative essay but it can be on the same topic.

Formative essay deadline: Thursday 2nd March 2017 by 12 noon
Return deadline: Friday 24th March 2017
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. understand more foundational issues in ethical theory.
  2. exercise increased familiarity with some of the specific ethical issues raised by humans¿ relationship to nature.
  3. better defend a philosophically controversial position than previously.
  4. better read and discuss (both orally and in written work) complex theoretical and practical topics in a critically engaged way
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.
Additional Information
Course URL Please see Learn page
Graduate Attributes and Skills - Ability to critically analyse philosophical argument involving scientific data
- Knowledge of key scientific and philosophical issues arising from climate change
- Ability to write clearly and cogently about a complex topic

Additional Class Delivery Information Course is taught by Dr Matthew Chrisman.

The course has a 1 hour lecture and 2 x 1 hour tutorial teaching arrangement in place; students must go to ALL lectures and choose only ONE tutorial group shared with undergraduate. Students do not attend both shared tutorial groups.
KeywordsClimate Change,Future Generations,Tragedy of the Commons
Course organiserDr Matthew Chrisman
Tel: (0131 6)50 3648
Course secretaryMiss Lynsey Buchanan
Tel: (0131 6)51 5002
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