Philosophy

Introduction to Philosophy

An overview of some of the main topics in Philosophy

The School of Athens by Raphael

About the course

This course introduces some of the main areas of research in contemporary philosophy. In each module, a different philosopher will talk you through some of the most important questions and issues in their area of expertise. We’ll begin by trying to understand what philosophy is – what are its characteristic aims and methods, and how does it differ from other subjects? Then we’ll spend the rest of the course gaining an introductory overview of several different areas of philosophy.

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Topics

Topics covered on this course include:

Epistemology, where we’ll consider what our knowledge of the world and ourselves consists in, and how we come to have it;

Philosophy of science, where we’ll investigate foundational conceptual issues in scientific research and practice;

Philosophy of Mind, where we’ll ask questions about what it means for something to have a mind, and how minds should be understood and explained;

Political Philosophy, where we'll investigate whether we have an obligation to obey the law;

Moral Philosophy, where we’ll attempt to understand the nature of our moral judgements and reactions – whether they aim at some objective moral truth, or are mere personal or cultural preferences, and;

Metaphysics, where we’ll think through some fundamental conceptual questions about free will and the nature of reality.

Videos

What is philosophy? (Dave Ward)

What is knowledge? And do we have any? (Duncan Pritchard)

Minds, brains and computers (Suilin Lavelle)

Morality: objective, relative or emotive? (Matthew Chrisman)

Should you believe what you hear? (Allan Hazlett)

Are scientific theories true? (Michela Massimi)

Do we have free will and does it matter? (Elinor Mason)

Time travel and philosophy (Alasdair Richmond)

Handouts

Textbook

Philosophy for Everyone book cover

To accompany ‘Introduction to Philosophy’, we are pleased to announce a tie-in book from Routledge entitled Philosophy for Everyone. This course companion to the ‘Introduction to Philosophy’ course was written by the Edinburgh Philosophy team expressly with the needs of MOOC students in mind. ‘Philosophy for Everyone’ contains clear and user-friendly chapters, chapter summaries, glossary, study questions, suggestions for further reading and guides to online resources.

Philosophy for Everyone

Instructors

Dr Dave Ward

Professor Duncan Pritchard

Professor Michela Massimi

Dr Suilin Lavelle

Dr Matthew Chrisman

Dr Alasdair Richmond

Dr Guy Fletcher

Dr Elinor Mason