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Semester 1

Philosophy of Action (PHIL10209)







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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 course examines in depth the field of philosophy of action. Students will learn about prominent approaches to action theory - such as those championed by Elizabeth Anscombe and Donald Davidson. They will consider a variety of central issues in the philosophy of action. These issues may include moral responsibility, irrational action and the possibility of weakness of will, unfree action, unconsciously motivated action, and the kind of action that we identify with and that, in a salient sense, makes us who we are.

Course Description

Wittgenstein famously asked: 'What is left over if I subtract the fact that my arm goes up from the fact that I raise my arm?' (PI, ยง621) -In virtue of what is the action of raising my arm an action rather than a mere event, or something that merely happens? And what role do I, as agent, have in making it happen? These questions lie at the centre of the Philosophy of Action, a branch of philosophy that brings together issues in the philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. The course will consider questions such as: If something is an intentional action, in virtue of the agent's comprehensions of the reasons for performing it, then how is irrational action possible? How are we to make sense of unconsciously motivated action and unfree action? How are we to make sense of alienation from action, and what does it take to identify oneself with one's actions in such a way that one thereby attains a sense of self? Finally, how do these two prominent approaches to action theory make sense of moral responsibility?

Assessment Information

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

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