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

Postgraduate Course: Normative Ethics (Online) (PHIL11241)

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)
Course typeOnline Distance Learning AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryOur focus in this course is on Normative ethics. Normative ethical theory aims to answer the questions 'How should I act?' and 'How should I live?'. This course provides a systematic comparison of some of the major normative traditions. The organizing theme will be the debate between theory and anti- theory in normative ethics. To that end we will spend some time on Bernard Williams' seminal work in this area: Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy.

Please note auditing is not allowed on this course. Students must only take for credit.
Course description Syllabus:

1: Introduction to Normative Ethics: Socrates' Question (Synchronous seminar)

2: Consequentialism (Synchronous seminar)
3: Kant's Ethics (Asynchronous forum seminar)
4: Contractualism (Synchronous seminar)
5: Virtue Ethics (Asynchronous forum seminar)

6: Williams against Utilitarianism (Synchronous seminar)
7: Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Asynchronous forum seminar)
8: Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Synchronous seminar)
9: Moral Particularism (Asynchronous forum seminar)
10: Moral Particularism (Synchronous seminar)
11: Review (Asynchronous forum seminar)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  0
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) 100% Final summative essay
Feedback Students have the opportunity to submit a formative essay. The essay cannot be draft of the 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. have a grasp of fundamental issues and views in normative theory and anti- theory
  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 summative essay.
  4. gain transferable skills in research, analysis and argumentation
Reading List
Representative Reading List

1: Bernard Williams 'Socrates' Question' Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, Chapter one.

2: J. S. Mill Utilitarianism (chapter 3 optional)

3: Immanuel Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, (Chapter one and chapter two)

4: T. Scanlon 'The Structure of Contractualism' in What We Owe To Each Other.

5: John McDowell 'Virtue and Reason' The Monist 62 (3):331-350 (1979)

6: Bernard Williams 'A Critique of Utilitarianism' in Smart and Williams
Utilitarianism For and Against

7: Bernard Williams, Chapters two and three of his Ethics and the Limits and Philosophy

8: Bernard Williams, Chapters four and five of his Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy

9: Jonathan Dancy 'What are the Options' Chapter one of his Ethics without Principles

10: Jonathan Dancy 'Holism and its Consequences' Chapter five of his Ethics without Principles
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research, critical analysis, argumentation skills (both written and oral). Critical reading skills
KeywordsNormative theory,Normative anti-theory,Consequentialism,Utilitarianism,Kantianism,Virtue ethics
Course organiserDr Deborah Roberts
Tel: (0131 6)51 5171
Course secretaryMs Olivia Coltman
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