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Unit information: Realism and Normativity in 2020/21

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Unit name Realism and Normativity
Unit code PHIL20046
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Sticker
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit is designed to cover a series of centrally important philosophical issues, positions, and strategies, which in one way or another will often be presupposed by all the other philosophy you study. The unit itself has two components, one concerned with metaphysics and logic, the other with value theory. The material covered in the normativity component will provide a good source of examples and case-studies for some of the issues considered in the proceeding realism component.

Realism: This part of the unit will cover a variety of key topics and issues within metaphysics and logic. In particular, we will consider the distinction between realism and anti-realism, the various forms which anti-realism may take, and the form of arguments standardly given, both for and against, adopting anti-realism with respect to a given subject matter.

Normativity: This component of the unit will provide an introduction to metaethics informed by the material concerning realism/anti-realism covered in the first component. In particular, we shall be concerned with the key metaethical questions of the nature and status of moral claims and the relation between motivation and moral judgements and the conception of (practical) reasons.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of the unit students will be able to:

(1) demonstrate detailed knowledge and in-depth understanding of the realism/anti-realism debate, including the variety of forms which anti-realism may take and the form of arguments standardly given for and against adopting the different forms of anti-realist positions,

(2) demonstrate detailed knowledge and in-depth understanding of the key questions in metaethics including the nature and status of moral claims and the relation between motivation and moral judgements,

(3) demonstrate detailed knowledge and in-depth understanding of how the realism/anti-realism debate is connected to the key questions in metaethics,

(4) demonstrate the ability to apply the theoretical approaches and tools introduced and developed in the unit to novel philosophical problems and issues,

(5) demonstrate skills in philosophical writing, analysis, and argument, appropriate to level I/5.

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

SUMMATIVE: Open-book take home exam - 100% [ILOs (1)-(5)]

Reading and References

Brock, S., and E. Mares (2007) Realism and Anti-Realism. Durham, Acumen.

Papineau, D., (1993) Philosophical Naturalism. Oxford, Blackwell.

Smith, M. (2005) The Moral Problem. Oxford, Blackwell.

Millgram, E. (2001) Varieties of Practical Reasoning. Cambridge, MIT Press.