PP2MP-Moral Philosophy

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2014/5

Module Convenor: Prof Philip Stratton-Lake

Email: p.j.stratton-lake@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module will introduce students to the major issues in normative ethics and metaethics.

To survey central lines of thought in moral philosophy, including both metaethical positions and central normative notions. Metaethical questions addressed will include the questions surrounding the objectivity of morality and the nature of moral judgement. Normative notions considered will include respect, benevolence and impartiality.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of this module, the student will be able to outline the main arguments for and against the view that moral judgments are best understood as expressions of sentiment or commitment, rather than as attempts to assert truths about the world. They will also become familiar with various forms of normative theory e.g. Kantianism and utilitarianism. The essays that students are required to write for the unit will help develop their abilities to report ideas and arguments accurately, to assess the soundness of arguments, to argue soundly, and to write with clarity and precision. The seminar sessions on these essays will also help develop the students' critical thinking skills. The preparation for and the taking of exams will help develop the students' abilities to report ideas and arguments accurately, to assess the soundness of arguments, and to argue soundly.

Additional outcomes:
Students will gain an overview of two of the most important topics: What are the basic principles of morally justifiable action? And what is the status of these principles?

Outline content:
Year to year, there may be variation as to whether the metaethical views or the normative theories are discussed first. In whatever sequence, however, the topics to be discussed will include all or most of the following questions. Can moral judgements be plausibly construed as descriptions of the judger’s attitudes? Are moral judgements incapable of being true? Do moral judgements have a necessary connection to motivation? What ways are there of arguing against a proposed moral principle? Is there any form of consequentialist ethics that is plausible? Was Kant correct to think that an act is morally right if and only if the agent could will that acts of that kind be performed universally?

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The format for this module is lectures and essay seminars. Students are encouraged to be active in all classes, asking questions and trying to answer the questions posed by others. Handouts are given for this module, including reading lists and sample questions.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Guided independent study 170
Total hours by term 200.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Written assignment including essay 30

Other information on summative assessment:
2 x 1,500-2,000 word essays worth 15% each.

Electronic Submission
All coursework should be submitted electronically via Blackboard and in hard copy to the Philosophy office.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:
    The final exam, worth 70%, will be two hours in which time you will be required to answer two questions from a choice of six.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Re-examination in August by written examination only.

    Last updated: 8 October 2014

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