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

Undergraduate Course: Meta-Ethics (PHIL10019)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis is an advanced undergraduate seminar on metaethics: the area of philosophy that studies questions about the nature, source, and authority of morality, especially as they pertain to metaphysical, epistemological, semantic, and moral psychological questions. The course builds on students' prior study of core issues and theories. (For background, students are encouraged to consult chs. 0-1 and 6 of M. Chrisman What Is This Thing Called Metaethics.) In addition to students interested in ethical theory, this course will be relevant to those interested in metaphysics, epistemology, and the theory of meaning.
Course description The precise topics for this course vary from year to year, as the intention is to introduce students to recent topics and cutting-edge research in the area. Some indicative topics are: (i) Is morality an ideology?, (ii) can there be pure moral testimony?, (iii) how does moral virtue relate to human nature?, (iv) can there be moral obligations without an authoritative lawgiver?, (v) what does it take to have the standing to make moral judgments?, (vii) what¿s the semantic relation between moral ¿ought¿s and imperatives?, (viii) how to understand the content of thick ethical concepts?, (ix) do evolutionary considerations debunk moral realism? We will sometimes focus on a specific author or set of authors and seek to understand their metaethical views well.

Please consult the course guide for precise topics for this year.

The primary goal of this course is to develop your critical and analytical thinking skills. You will also develop these skills through in-class discussion and by arguing in your written work for the ideas you find most persuasive and challenging ideas you think are incorrect. Excelling in the course will demonstrate your growing precision in thought, an ability to interpret a text charitably and reconstruct the arguments found in that text and critically engage with those arguments, the capacity to develop your own convincing arguments for theses you find plausible, and anticipate the most powerful objections to your arguments and counter them, among other core philosophical skills. The course should be especially useful in honing your ability to think comparatively about the relative costs and benefits of various theories competing for roughly the same logical space.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Mind, Matter and Language (PHIL08014) AND Knowledge and Reality (PHIL08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students studying on MA Cognitive Science (Humanities) are permitted to take this course without having met the pre-requisites of Mind, Matter and Language and Knowledge and Reality. However, it is advisable that students discuss the suitability of the course with their PT and the course organiser before enrolling.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  26
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Seminar/Tutorial Hours 22, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Midterm assessment: 35%
Final essay: 65%
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
A thorough understanding of the most important positions in contemporary meta-ethics, some of which students will have encountered in less depth in previous courses, others of which will be new to students; an enhancement of philosophical skills, through pursuing contemporary questions at an advanced level; a furthering of communications skills, through presentations and constructive argument in a seminar setting.
Reading List
For an indication of topics and content please see Chrisman, M 'What Is This Thing Called Metaethics 2016. For the full reading list please see the Learn site.
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Matthew Chrisman
Tel: (0131 6)50 3648
Course secretaryMr Craig Adams
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