Undergraduate Course: 20th-Century British Philosophers (LLLI07001)
|School||Centre for Open Learning
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 7 (Year 1 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||This is a for-credit course offered by the Office of Lifelong Learning (OLL); only students registered with OLL should be enrolled. British philosophy in the 20th century presents a rich variety of approaches to central questions such as the nature of ethics, how to run society, and what knowledge is and how do we achieve it. Learn about philosophy through studying the lives and thoughts of key figures in its development.
Content of course
1. Overview. An introduction to the main themes and developments in twentieth century British philosophy.
2. R G Collingwood (1889-1943). Collingwood emerged from the tradition of British Idealism to produce important work in both the philosophy of history and aesthetics. This session examines his work in relation to that Idealist tradition and in relation to the empiricist tradition which dominated academic philosophy for much of his career.
3. G. E. Moore (1873-1958). Moore was an important figure in both the break from Idealism and in the development of philosophical ethics in the twentieth century, and his ideas influenced the Bloomsbury Group.
4. A. J. Ayer (1910-1989). Ayer popularized the work of logical positivism in Britain, which rejected large parts of philosophical writing as meaningless. We look at his views on such areas (including ethics and theology) and the effect on later philosophers.
5. Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951). Wittgenstein bridges the gap between logical positivism and later developments in ordinary language philosophy. We look at the radical changes in his views over his career.
6. R. M. Hare (1919-2002). Although little known outside academic philosophy, Hare┐s work typifies the close analysis of language that was characteristic of much philosophical ethics in the twentieth century.
7. Mary Midgley (1919-). Midgley has become famous as a major critic of Richard Dawkins. In this session, we examine her work as part of a movement to move philosophy away from linguistic analysis to substantive ethical questions.
8. Gillian Rose (1947-95). Rose provides a contrast to most of the other philosophers on this course in her engagement with continental philosophy. This session examines her approach as an alternative to the mainstream analytic tradition.
9. Bernard Williams (1929-2003) Williams┐ work in ethics can be seen as focusing on authenticity and self-expression. This session examines the adequacy of such an approach to ethical questions.
10. Final discussion. An opportunity to consider the course as a whole and to return to specific issues in the light of that overview.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2017/18, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
||Lifelong Learning - Session 3
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 20,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||Open Studies 10 credit courses have one assessment. Normally, the assessment is a 2000 word essay, worth 100% of the total mark, submitted by week 12. To pass, students must achieve a minimum of 40%. There are a small number of exceptions to this model which are identified in the Studying for Credit Guide.
|No Exam Information
| By the end of this course, students should be able to:
Demonstrate a broad knowledge of some key ideas in twentieth century British philosophy;
Demonstrate an awareness of the diversity of modern philosophical thought and its development over the course of the twentieth century;
Use some of the basic skills, techniques and practices associated generally with reading philosophical texts;
Present and evaluate some central arguments and ideas of twentieth century philosophy
|Recommended background reading|
Baggini, J. and Stangroom, J., eds., 2002.New British Philosophy: the Interviews. London: Routledge.
Magee, B., ed., 2001. Talking Philosophy: Dialogues with Fifteen Leading Philosophers. Oxford: Oxford Paperbacks. (Earlier editions published under the title Men of Ideas.)
Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Password access)
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Handouts will be provided.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Course organiser||Mr James Mooney
Tel: (0131 6)50 3077
|Course secretary||Mr Benjamin Mcnab
Tel: (0131 6)51 4832