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Unit of study_

PHIL1011: Reality, Ethics and Beauty

This unit is an introduction to central issues in metaphysics, ethics and aesthetics. It opens with general questions about reality, God, personal identity and free will. The middle section of the unit will consider questions about values, goodness and responsibility. The final part is concerned with the question "what is art", the nature of aesthetic judgment and the role of art in our lives.

Code PHIL1011
Academic unit Philosophy
Credit points 6
PHIL1003 or PHIL1004 or PHIL1006 or PHIL1008

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand of various terms that are general to Anglo-American philosophy and further: exam- ples include analytic, a priori, a posteriori, necessity, possibility, qualia, valid, invalid and so on. Throughout the course I’ll be highlighting these terms in lectures and introducing short quizzes and polls to help the mastery of these
  • LO2. Capacity to form arguments: what I want from you is to be able to demonstrate that you can do philosophy. This means not just reporting what famous philosophers have thought, but having a con- sidered opinion of your own as to whether they are right. But a considered opinion is not jus the opinion you get when you consider a lot! It is an opinion backed up by arguments that follow valid patterns of reasoning from particular premises. Often we will hope that when your opinion differs from another philosopher it will be either because you can locate a premise in their reasoning which is different form yours, or else you can say where there has been a mistake in their reasoning.
  • LO3. Developing a critical and enquiring attitude to questions. There is disagreement. Why? Is that the disagreement is merely apparent because terms are being used differently? (Often the case sadly) Is there a difference in premises or assumptions? Is there a difference in what is regarded as a good rule of inference? Learn to be surprised by differences of opinion, and to seek out the differ- ences that explain them.
  • LO4. Learn to read philosophy: reading philosophy is unlike most other reading that you have to do in the humanities. You must read very slowly, and you must read again and again. Often with a diffi- cult article you will be none the wiser after the first read. Sort out what the conclusion is, where it fits in the debate you are dealing with, how the author’s assumptions help. Read it again. Take some notes. Discuss it with some other students.
  • LO5. Learning to research in philosophy, in particular how to use original article database systems via the University Library
  • LO6. Understand the specie questions in metaphysics, ethics and aesthetics, and have an informed opinion on these debates (even if that opinion is we can't tell who is right).
  • LO7. See that there is a real problem in both forming the questions, and justifying the answers to them

Unit outlines

Unit outlines will be available 1 week before the first day of teaching for the relevant session.