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

Postgraduate Course: The Nature of Moral Understanding MSc (PHIL11068)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThere is a distinctive experience that humans have when they think about situations that seem to involve moral considerations. While these experiences may be amenable to theoretical formalisation, there is important philosophical reflection to be done without theory. What do people understand when they understand a situation as demanding moral consideration, reflection or decision? This course aims to make progress with this and related questions and in the process complement our other, more formal, courses in moral philosophy.
Course description The central question with which this course is concerned is: what is the nature of the understanding someone has when they engage with their moral concerns? These moral concerns are considered to arise in relatively ordinary situations of the kinds presented in life, literature and film. These situations include decisions about what to do; wondering how to live; questions of whether one is under a moral obligation; contemplation of shame or guilt.

In this sense, this course is a philosophical examination of various phenomena - moral phenomena - about which philosophical theories are constructed. The main goals will be to focus on the nature of the understanding we have of these phenomena with a view to clarifying which are their essential features and which do not distinguish them. Central to this examination, the course will consider how other philosophers have tried to delimit the phenomena or characterise our moral understanding.
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
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. show an understanding of the nature of moral thinking and reasoning
  2. explain the commonality and difference of moral thinking with other kinds of thought
  3. describe the varieties of moral engagement beyond action and reasoning
  4. discuss inter-relation between ethical phenomena, normative moral claims, and meta-ethical claims
  5. contrast different ways of making moral arguments and discuss the limits to formalising such arguments
Reading List
We will work from assorted articles, reading one or two each week. These vary as new topics emerge.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Close reading.
Selective note taking.
Critical interpretation.
Developing an argument.
Written communication.
Oral debate.
KeywordsPhilosophy,Ethics,Morality,Ethical Theory,Anti-theory
Course organiserDr David Levy
Tel: (0131 6)50 9943
Course secretaryMs Becky Verdon
Tel: (0131 6)50 3860
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