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

Postgraduate Course: Philosophical Methods (PHIL11218)

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
SummaryThis course offers an introduction to philosophical methodology, with a particular focus on thought experiments, conceptual analysis and the role of rational intuitions. Conceptual analysis was once considered to be of primary concern to philosophers: to understand what a particular property is, such as being morally good, being conscious, being caused, or being known, one must produce necessary and sufficient conditions for something to fall under the concept of that property. Moreover, such conditions must be spelled out in a way that is independent of the concept in question. Many analyses have been confronted with counterexamples that rely on rational intuitions about how to describe possible cases. In response, some philosophers have given up on conceptual analysis altogether, some have adopted various weaker kinds of conceptual entailments, and some have argued that such intuitions are defeasible if the conceptual analysis in question leads to an otherwise explanatorily powerful philosophical theory about the property in question. These are some of the central issues in contemporary philosophical methodology, which we will be addressing in this course. We will examine the rational intuitions that particular thought experiments are meant to elicit, and we will assess the role of these intuitions in supporting or criticising a philosophical theory, or even in adjudicating between rival philosophical theories.

Please also note auditing is not allowed on this course. Students must only take for credit.
Course description This course will be delivered through a combination of pre-recorded lectures, live online seminars, and online discussion forums. Pre-recorded lectures will be delivered by a range of faculty. All live online seminars will be delivered by Dr. Elmarie Venter. Please direct any queries regarding any segment of the course to the course organiser.

Synchronous online seminars will be held fortnightly at a time to be announced. In asynchronous forum weeks, Dr. Venter will monitor forum discussions.

Week 1: Agency and acting for a reason
Week 2: Hume on miracles: The great original
Week 3: Hume on miracles: Bayesian approaches (synchronous seminar)
Week 4: The open question argument and the paradox of analysis
Week 5: Moral twin earth (synchronous seminar)
Week 6: Galileo's falling bodies, Newton's bucker and Einstein's elevator
Week 7: Artificial intelligence and the Chinese room argument (synchronous seminar)
Week 8: Functionalism, inverted qualia and Blockhead
Week 9: Folk psychology, eliminativism and instrumentalism (synchronous seminar)
Week 10: Phenomenology and cognitive science
Week 11: Phenomenology and cognitive science (synchronous seminar)
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 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  0
Course Start Semester 1
Course Start Date 16/09/2024
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture 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) Essay plan 15%
Final Essay 85%
Feedback 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.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. grasp fundamental issues in philosophical methodology, e.g. the nature of thought experiments, the role of rational intuitions, conceptual analysis
  2. critically analyse and engage with literature by key philosophers in this field
  3. present arguments clearly and concisely both within a classroom context and in a final essay
  4. gain transferable skills in research, analysis and argumentation
Reading List
Available online:
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Both on-campus and online students can develop their ability for independent learning through online resources.
KeywordsMethodology,Ethics,Epistemology,Mind,Philosophy of Science
Course organiserDr Jack Shardlow
Course secretaryMs Olivia Coltman
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