PP3FWR-Free Will and Responsibility

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: Prof Maximilian De Gaynesford

Email: r.m.degaynesford@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
We all think that we have free will and that we are therefore responsible for what we do. But do we really? Some philosophers think that we do, arguing that free will is just the freedom to do what we want to do, without external interference or constraints. Other philosophers disagree, arguing that free will is incompatible with both determinism and indeterminism, or that free will implausibly requires that we are ‘prime movers unmoved’. In this module we will try to decide who is right about this important issue.

To familiarise students with the main contemporary views about free will and responsibility.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of this module, students will be able to give an overview of main contemporary views about free will and responsibility. They will be able to critically assess the arguments for the different views about free will and responsibility and understand why the issues covered are important.

Additional outcomes:
Students will also have developed their capacity to report philosophical arguments accurately, to assess the soundness and validity of arguments, to write with clarity and precision, and defend their own views in a public forum.

Outline content:
The module will consist of lectures and seminars. In the lectures, we will use Robert Kane’s book A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will as our guide. In the seminars we will discuss texts written by the philosophers discussed in the lectures, introduced by student presentations. These texts will often be considerably more difficult than the relevant chapter from Kane’s book, so students are required to prepare well for the seminars by reading the relevant text in advance.

Introductory Reading:
Thomas Pink 'Free Will: A very short introduction' (Oxford University Press, 2004)

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module will consist of lectures and seminars. Students are encouraged to be active in all classes, asking questions and trying to answer the questions posed by others. Handouts will be 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:
Two essays of 2000-2500 words each, worth a total of 30% of the module mark.

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 examination of two hours in length and worth 70% of the module mark. You must 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.

    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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