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Unit information: Introduction to Philosophy B in 2020/21

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Unit name Introduction to Philosophy B
Unit code PHIL10006
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Alan Wilson
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit provides students with an introduction to some of the central debates and issues in practical philosophy, in particular in moral philosophy and political philosophy. The main aims are to give students a basic understanding of the issues in question, as well as to help them acquire and sharpen the necessary critical skills in reading, writing and argument to engage with the debates, and develop their own views in dialogue with them. The unit will take the form of an introduction to the three main divisions in moral philosophy – metaethics, moral theory, and applied ethics – as well as some of the central concepts of political philosophy. These will be approached through the reading of a number of important articles and extracts, including extracts from some of the central texts in the history of moral and political philosophy. Study is primarily theme-based. At the end of the unit, students should have a clear grasp of the nature of the divisions contemporary ethics, their relationship to one another, and their philosophical grounding. They should also have an understanding of the way in which moral philosophers apply the principles and conclusions that are derived from moral theories to particular contemporary moral problems, in order to yield practical conclusions about what we should and shouldn’t do. Finally, they should have a clear understanding of the argument about political legitimacy outlined by the social contract tradition in political philosophy.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

(1) demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the key historical texts covered.

(2) demonstrate familiarity with some key secondary literature on these texts, and be able to engage critically with it.

(3) engage critically with the authors’ positions and arguments.

(4) demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the key issues in moral and political philosophy covered.

(5) demonstrate familiarity with some key contemporary literature on these issues, and be able to engage critically with it.

(6) be in a position to relate the philosophical issues discussed to the texts read.

Teaching Information

Lectures, small group work, individual exercises, seminars and virtual learning environment.

Assessment Information

Summative: take-home open-book exam - 100% [designed to test ILOs 1-6]

Reading and References

  • Alasdair MacIntyre A Short History of Ethics (London: Routledge 1967; 2nd Ed. 1998, 3rd ed. 2002)
  • Bernard Williams Morality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972)
  • D.D. Raphael Moral Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994)