PP3RVK-Reason, Value & Knowledge

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Dr Luke Elson

Email: luke.elson@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

To familiarise students with important concepts and debates in contemporary moral theory.


To familiarise students with important concepts and debates in contemporary moral theory. Examples of the sort of issues that may be covered in this course are the nature of moral reasons, whether there are any substantive universal moral principles, the nature of moral properties, moral epistemology, moral psychology, and normative ethics.

Assessable learning outcomes:

Due to the abstract nature of much contemporary moral theory students will develop skills of abstract and lateral thought, which in turn will help promote their critical thinking skills and their general evaluation of arguments. Their discussion of the issues will also develop their oral skills and build on their ability orally to articulate abstract arguments and concepts.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of this course, the student will be able to give an overview of different approaches to some important aspect of contemporary moral theory, and give examples of the theorists who have advocated different positions within this area. They will be able critically to assess the various arguments in this aspect of moral theory and understand why the issues covered are important. 

Additional outcomes:

Outline content:

The specific content of this course may vary from year to year. A sample outline is as follows: Students will be introduced to various views about practical reasons and reasoning. They will consider whether practical reasons can be defined in terms of actual or hypothetical desires, and whether reasoning can plausibly be understood in terms of how we are to satisfy our intrinsic desires. Having assessed the nature of practical reasons, students will consider how reasons are related to value, and whether they have a special link to personal well-being. They will consider how moral reasons are to be understood, and why moral reasons have the special significance they have. Why is it that moral reasons tend to have priority over non-moral reasons? Why is it that blindness to moral reasons is such a serious fault? The module will also cover contemporary developments in in moral epistemology and in moral realism.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The format for this course contains informal lectures/seminars. Students are encouraged to be active in all classes, asking questions and trying to answer the questions posed by others. Full handouts are given for this course at the beginning of each session. A separate reading list and essay questions list is given out at the beginning of the term.

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 assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

Two essay-assignments, the first due in week 5, and the second due in week 11.

Weighted at 33% and 67%


Formative assessment methods:

Week 6 test

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Written assignment, to be completed in August/September.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 1 October 2018


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