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Philosophy

Visiting Students who do not have an academic background in Philosophy are recommended to select at least one of the introductory courses. Visiting Students who have covered much of the introductory material already are welcome, in consultation with tutors at their home institutions, to select any courses from the list below. Availability of courses may vary according to term of study.

Visiting Students should note that work on the great dead philosophers is based on a close study of particular texts and issues arising from them: there are no general-overview options. Also, in options under the heading of a specific subject-area in philosophy, work is based on the study of particular issues, not the study of particular philosophers (living or dead).

Introductory Courses

LogicTopics to be studied may include: the critical application of formal logic to the analysis of English sentences and inferences, propositional and predicate languages; propositional calculus. The logical symbols and natural-deduction rules to be used are those found in Volker Halbach, Logic Manual (OUP).
General PhilosophyTopics to be studied may include: knowledge, skepticism, perception, induction, primary and secondary qualities, the relation of mind and body, personal identity, free will, and God and Evil.
Moral PhilosophyStudied in connection with Mill, Utilitarianism.
PlatoMeno and Euthyphro (or Protagoras or Phaedo).
Philosophy of Logic and MathematicsStudied in connection with Frege, The Foundations of Arithmetic. [For this option a knowledge of some logic and some mathematics is required.]

 

Topic-Based Courses

Knowledge and RealityThe course will cover the main questions in Metaphysics and Theory of Knowledge. Topics to be studied may include: knowledge and justification, perception, memory, induction, other minds, a priori knowledge, necessity and possibility, reference, truth, facts and propositions, definition, existence, identity (including personal identity), substances, change, events, properties, causation, space, time, essence, natural kinds, realism and idealism, primary and secondary qualities.
Philosophy of Logic and LanguageThe course will include questions on such topics as: meaning, truth, logical form, necessity, existence, entailment, proper and general names, pronouns, definite descriptions, intensional contexts, adjectives and nominalization, adverbs, metaphor, and pragmatics. [For this option some knowledge of logic is advisable.]
Philosophy of MathematicsThe course may include questions which relate to the following issues: Incommensurables in the development of Greek geometry; Comparisons between geometry and other branches of mathematics; The significance of non-Euclidean geometry; The problem of mathematical rigour in the development of the calculus; The place of intuition in mathematics (Kant, Poincaré); The idea that mathematics needs foundations; The role of logic and set theory (Dedekind, Cantor, Frege, Russell); The claim that mathematics must be constructive (Brouwer); The finitary study of formal systems as a means of justifying infinitary mathematics (Hilbert); Limits to the formalization of mathematics (Gödel).  Anti-foundational views of mathematics; Mathematical objects and structures; the nature of infinity; The applicability of mathematics. [For this option a good knowledge of logic and mathematics is required.]
Formal Logic

(i) Propositional and Predicate Logic

(ii) Set Theory  

(iii) Metamathematics.

[This option is only for those who have either done both an introductory course in logic and have some knowledge of mathematics or have a strong background in pure mathematics. A full term’s work would be on just two of the subjects listed - typically (i) and either (ii) or (iii).]

Philosophy of MindTopics to be studied may include the nature of persons, the relation of mind and body, self-knowledge, knowledge of other persons, consciousness, perception, memory, imagination, thinking, belief, feeling and emotion, desire, action, the explanation of action, subconscious and unconscious mental processes.
Philosophy of ScienceThis course may include such topics as scientific method, the structure of scientific theories, and scientific rationality.
Philosophy of Cognitive ScienceThis course may include such topics as levels of description, the nature of cognitive scientific theories, information and representation, information processing, cognitive architecture, explanation in cognitive science, methods in cognitive science, and the scientific study of consciousness.
EthicsTopics to be studied may include: 1. The metaphysics of Ethics.  2. Value and Normativity.  3. Self-interest, Altruism and Amoralism. 4. Ethical Theories.  5. Specific Moral Concepts.  6. Moral Psychology. 7. Applied Ethics.
Philosophy of ReligionThe analysis of theological and religious language and concepts, and the historical and critical study of the following: the possibility of natural theology; the nature and grounds of religious belief; the idea and existence of God; religious views of the universe and man’s place in it (religion includes, but is not restricted to, the Christian religion).
Aesthetics and the Philosophy of CriticismThe course may include questions on such topics as: the nature of aesthetic value; the definition of art; art, society and morality; criticism and interpretation; metaphor; expression; pictorial representation.
Theory of PoliticsThe critical study of political values and of the concepts used in political analysis: The concept of the political; power, authority, and related concepts; the state; law; liberty and rights; justice and equality; public interest and common good; democracy and representation; political obligation and civil disobedience; ideology; liberalism, socialism, and conservatism.

 

Text-Based Courses

PlatoEither Meno and Theaetetus, or Republic or Theaetetus and Sophist.
AristotleNicomachean Ethics (or Physics).
Early Modern PhilosophyThe most commonly studied authors are Descartes, Locke, Berkley, Hume; but Spinoza, Leibniz, Kant are possible.
Philosophy of KantCritique of Pure Reason, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
Frege, Russell, and Wittgenstein

Works principally to be studied are:

Frege, Foundations of Arithmetic, trans. Austin; Begriffsschrift ch. 1, ‘Function and Concept’, ‘Sense and Meaning’, ‘Concept and Object’, and ‘Frege on Russell’s Paradox’, in Geach and Black, eds. Translations from the Philosophical Writings of Gottlob Frege;

Russell, ‘On Denoting; ‘Mathematical Logic as Based on the theory of Types’, and ‘On the Nature of Acquaintance’, in Marsh, ed., Logic and Knowledge; ‘The Ultimate Constituents of Matter’, ‘The Relation of Sense-Data to Physics’, and ‘Knowledge by Acquaintance and Knowledge of Description’, in Mysticism and Logic; Our Knowledge of the External World, chs. I-IV; either Introduction to Mathematical Philosophy, chs. 1-3 and 12-18, or ‘The Philosophy of Logical Atomism’, in Marsh, ed., Logic and Knowledge;

Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus.

[A full term’s work on this option would involve studying just two of these authors.]

The Later Philosophy of WittgensteinWorks principally to be studied are Philosophical Investigations and The Blue and Brown Books.
Post-Kantian Continental PhilosophyThe main developments of philosophy in Continental Europe after Kant, excluding Marxism and analytical philosophy. The most commonly studied authors are Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty.