2020/21 PHIL11182 Online MSc/PGDipl/PGCert


Course Organiser and Lecturer: Dr Debbie Roberts [email protected]

Learning Technologist: Natalie Chisholm [email protected]

Course Secretary: Rebecca Verdon [email protected]

Librarian: Ishbel Leggat [email protected]

Course aims and objectives

This course examines to what extent we can find a place for ethics in a naturalistic, scientific picture of the world. We start with the issue of whether or not we have free . On the face of it this seems to be a precondition for the possibility of holding people morally responsible for their actions, and thus a precondition for there moral requirements at all. We then move on to examine the nature of ethics, beginning with the topic of and the arguments for it. We then examine various challenges to the realist view, including challenges from evolutionary theory and neuroscience. We end by revisiting moral realism and asking what it makes whether or not moral realism is true.

During the course we will address the following questions, among others: • Do we have ? What if is true? • Can we be held morally responsible for our actions? • Do moral judgments express beliefs? If they do, are these beliefs ever true? • Are there moral facts? • What implications does evolution have for ? • What implications does neuroscience have for morality? • Are there any moral explanations of non-moral phenomena? What implications does this have for the of moral facts?

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should:  Have a grasp of fundamental issues and views in of free will and , e.g. determinism, , incompatibalism, libertarianism.  Have a grasp of fundamental issues and views in metaethics, e.g. moral realism, error theory, and of some of the implications of evolutionary theory and recent work in neuroscience for meaethics.  Be able to critically analyse and engage with literature by key philosophers in this field.  Be able to present arguments clearly and concisely both within a classroom context and in a 2,500 word essay.  Gain transferable skills in research, analysis and argumentation

Syllabus Free Will and Week 1 Introduction to free will and moral Synchronous seminar Responsibility (21st Sept)) responsibility Week 2 Asynchronous seminar (28th Sept) Week 3 (5th Compatibilism Synchronous forum Oct) seminar Metaethics Week 4 Introduction to metaethics, moral Asynchronous seminar (12th Oct) realism Week 5 Error theory Synchronous forum (19th Oct) seminar Week 6 Expressivism Asynchronous seminar (26nd Oct) Week 7 The challenge from evolution Synchronous forum (2nd Nov) seminar Week 8 (9th The challenge from neuroscience Asynchronous seminar Nov) Week 9 The explanatory challenge Synchronous forum (16th Nov) seminar Week 10 Moral realism revisited Asynchronous seminar (23th Nov) Week 11 Review Synchronous forum (30th Nov) seminar

Week 1: Introduction to Free Will and Moral Responsibility Class readings

1. Kane, R. (2005) ‘The Free Will Problem’ in his A Contemporary Introduction to Free Will, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2. Hoefer, Carl, "Causal Determinism", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2010 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .

Week 2: Incompatibilism. Class reading

1. van Inwagen, P. (1975) ‘The Incompatibility of Free Will and Determinism’, Philosophical Studies, 27: 185–99.

2. Strawson, G. (1994) ‘The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility’ Philosophical Studies, 75: 5-24.

Week 3: Compatibilism Class readings

1. Frankfurt, H. (1969) ‘Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility’, Journal of Philosophy, 66: 820–39

2. Strawson, P.F. (1962) ‘Freedom and Resentment’, Proceedings of the British Academy, 68: 187–211

Week 4: Introduction to Metaethics, Moral Realism 1. Moore, G. E. (1903) ‘The Subject Matter of Ethics’ in his Principia Ethica, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

2. Cuneo, T. (2007) ‘Moral Realism of a Paradigmatic Sort’ in his The Normative Web, Oxford: Oxford University Press

Week 5: Error Theory Class reading

1. Mackie, J.L. (1977) ‘The Subjectivity of Values’ in his Ethics: Inventing Right and Wrong London: Penguin.

2. Joyce, R. ‘Moral Anti-Realism’, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2009 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = http://plato.stanford.edu/archives/sum2009/entries/moral-anti-realism/ sections 1,2 & 4.

Week 6: Expressivism Class readings

1. Blackburn, S. (1988) ‘How to be an ethical anti-realist’ Midwest Studies in Philosophy 12(1):361-75

2. Chrisman, M. (2011) ‘Ethical expressivism’ in The Continuum Companion to Ethics London: Bloomsbury

Week 7: The challenge from evolution Class readings

1. Street, S. (2006) ‘A Darwinian Dilemma for Realist Theories of ,’ Philosophical Studies 127: 109-66.

2. Kahane, G. (2011) ‘Evolutionary Debunking Arguments’

Week 8: The challenge from neuroscience Class Reading

1. Greene, J. and Haidt, J. (2002) ‘How (and where) does moral judgment work?’ in Trends in Cognitive Sciences vol 6, 517-523.

2. Joyce, R. (2008) ‘What Neuroscience can (and Cannot) Contribute to Metaethics’, in vol. 3, ed. Sinnott-Armstrong

Week 9: The explanatory challenge 1. Harman, G. (1977) The Nature of Morality, New York: Oxford University Press, Chapter

2. Sturgeon, N. (1985) ‘Moral Explanations’, in Morality, Reason, and , D. Copp and D. Zimmerman, (eds.), Totowa, N.J.: Rowman and Allanheld

Week 10: Moral realism revisited 1. Sturgeon, N. (1986) ‘What Difference Does It Make Whether Moral Realism is True?’ Southern Journal of Philosophy 24 (S1):115-141.

2. Enoch, D. (2011) Taking Morality Seriously Oxford: Oxford University Press, Chapter 2.

Week 11: Review

This week we will bring together the themes of the course, discuss essay strategies, and anything else you’d like to go over