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Semester 1

Meta-Ethics (PHIL10019)

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**Spaces on Philosophy Honours courses are extremely limited, and so priority is given to visiting students coming through a direct exchange with the Philosophy department (including Erasmus students on a Philosophy Exchange). Exchange students outside of Philosophy and independent study abroad students cannot be guaranteed enrolment in ANY 3rd/4th year Philosophy courses** Please note that 3rd year Philosophy courses are high-demand, meaning that they have a very high number of students wishing to enrol in a very limited number of spaces. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces. If there is sufficient space for other visiting students to enrol at the start of the semester, visiting students must have completed at least 3 Philosophy courses at grade B or above to qualify for this course; we will only consider University/College level courses.

Course Summary

This is an advanced undergraduate seminar on metaethics: the area of philosophy that studies questions about the nature, source, and authority of morality, especially as they pertain to metaphysical, epistemological, semantic, and moral psychological questions. The course builds on students' prior study of core issues and theories. (For background, students are encouraged to consult chs. 0-1 and 6 of M. Chrisman What Is This Thing Called Metaethics.) In addition to students interested in ethical theory, this course will be relevant to those interested in metaphysics, epistemology, and the theory of meaning.

Course Description

The precise topics for this course vary from year to year, as the intention is to introduce students to recent topics and cutting-edge research in the area. Some indicative topics are: (i) Is morality an ideology?, (ii) can there be pure moral testimony?, (iii) how does moral virtue relate to human nature?, (iv) can there be moral obligations without an authoritative lawgiver?, (v) what does it take to have the standing to make moral judgments?, (vii) what s the semantic relation between moral ought s and imperatives?, (viii) how to understand the content of thick ethical concepts?, (ix) do evolutionary considerations debunk moral realism? We will sometimes focus on a specific author or set of authors and seek to understand their metaethical views well. Please consult the course guide for precise topics for this year. The primary goal of this course is to develop your critical and analytical thinking skills. You will also develop these skills through in-class discussion and by arguing in your written work for the ideas you find most persuasive and challenging ideas you think are incorrect. Excelling in the course will demonstrate your growing precision in thought, an ability to interpret a text charitably and reconstruct the arguments found in that text and critically engage with those arguments, the capacity to develop your own convincing arguments for theses you find plausible, and anticipate the most powerful objections to your arguments and counter them, among other core philosophical skills. The course should be especially useful in honing your ability to think comparatively about the relative costs and benefits of various theories competing for roughly the same logical space.

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

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