PP3EP-Experimental 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: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Dr James Andow

Email: j.andow@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
Experimental philosophy is new and controversial area of philosophy. It is characterised by the use of empirical methods from psychology and cognitive sciences to probe how people think about philosophical topics such as morality, aesthetics, philosophy of action, epistemology, and so on. Since its inception, in about 2001, experimental philosophy has produced numerous fascinating and provocative findings! Experimental philosophers claim to have provided many important insights into many traditional philosophical debates. However, their results have also sparked intense debates about, e.g., the validity of bringing experimental methods into philosophy, and about the nature of philosophy itself.

In this module, we will explore some of the most important findings from experimental philosophy and ask what they tell us about traditional philosophical debates and methods. Students will also have the opportunity to get some ‘hands on’ experience with philosophical experiments.

To introduce students to the field of experimental philosophy and to some of its most important contributions to philosophical debate.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the course, students will gain knowledge and understanding of experimental philosophy (its methods, its key findings, and the main arguments for and challenges to experimental philosophy). Students will be able to form hypotheses that bear on philosophical questions and know how to go about designing experiments that test those hypotheses. And students will be familiar with the most important criticisms that have been levelled at experimental philosophy.

Additional outcomes:
Students will be able to apply knowledge and understanding gained in previous modules and to gain a new perspective on debates in, for example, moral philosophy, metaphysics, and epistemology. The course will give students a deeper understanding of traditional (“armchair”) philosophical methods. Students will also become familiar with the basic elements of experimental design and analysing the results of experiments.

Outline content:
The module will cover some, but not all, of the following:
?What is experimental philosophy?
?Does experimental philosophy undermine traditional philosophy?
?Cross-cultural experimental philosophy
?Is there such a thing as philosophical expertise?
?What can neuroscience tell us about morality?
?Experimental ethics
?Experimental epistemology
?Experimental aesthetics
?Experimental philosophy of free will and moral responsibility
?Experimental philosophy of action
?Experimental philosophy of colour
?Experimental philosophy of language

(The course will keep up with ‘cutting edge’ research published in experimental philosophy, so the exact content of the course may vary.)

Readings for the module will be posted on Blackboard. Students who want an introduction to experimental philosophy before the module starts can read “An Experimental Philosophy Manifesto” by Joshua Knobe and Shaun Nichols, in Knobe and Nichols (eds.), Experimental Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module will consist of lectures and seminars both of which will incorporate discussion and some class exercises.

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 60
Written assignment including essay 30
Oral assessment and presentation 10

Other information on summative assessment:
Two essays of 2000-2500 words, worth 15% each, and practical assignment worth 10%.

Electronic Submission
All coursework should be submitted electronically via Blackboard.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor 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:
    One two-hour examination worth 60%, in which you must answer two questions from a choice of six.

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:
    By written examination only

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 9 January 2017

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