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 David Oderberg

Email: d.s.oderberg@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module will introduce you to some of the great paradoxes in the history of philosophy as well as contemporary ones, and proposed solutions to them.

A paradox is usually a very surprising, if not unbelievable, conclusion reached by reasoning that is in itself plausible. Philosophy is full of paradoxes – logical, semantic, metaphysical, epistemological, ethical, and others. They are not only fascinating in themselves but shed light on big philosophical issues, as do the solutions philosophers have proposed. You will be introduced to some of the classic paradoxes and to the ways philosophers have tried to solve them.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module you will understand:
• what a paradox is
• what kinds of paradox there are
• the details of some of the great paradoxes
• the solutions to them that have been proposed.

Additional outcomes:
By the end of this module you will also understand how paradoxes and their proposed solutions shed light on some major issues in philosophy, particularly in philosophy of language, metaphysics, logic, and epistemology.

Outline content:
There is a set text (compulsory purchase) for the module:
P. Cave, This Sentence is False (London: Continuum, 2009)

Recommended vacation reading:
1.Michael Clark, Paradoxes from A to Z, 2nd edition (Routledge, 2007) (no need to read everything, just some of the paradoxes listed below)
2.R. Sorensen, A Brief History of the Paradox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005

The module will cover some or all of the following paradoxes:
1.Zeno’s Paradoxes: Achilles and the Tortoise; the Arrow; the Racetrack
2.The Liar Paradox
3.The Surprise Examination
4.The Grue Paradox (aka the New Riddle of Induction)
5.The Heap/Sorites Paradox (Paradox of Vagueness)
6.Galileo’s Paradox; Hilbert’s Hotel; Tristram Shandy
7.The Paradox of Foreknowledge
8.The Paradox of Omnipotence
9.Newcomb’s Paradox
10.The Prisoners’ Dilemma

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
This module will be taught by means of a weekly two-hour lecture and a seminar involving an assessed student presentation. In the presentation, one or more students will present an important article on the previous week’s topic, followed by discussion.

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 an oral presentation 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:
    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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