The Problems of Philosophy

Oriel College

Course Description

  • Course Name

    The Problems of Philosophy

  • Host University

    Oriel College

  • Location

    Oxford, England

  • Area of Study

    Ethics, Philosophy

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    This course will offer a selective introduction to some of the central problems of philosophy. It will be divided in two parts.

    In the first week, we will focus on ethics and logic. Since its beginnings in ancient Greece, the Western philosophical reflection on how we should conduct our lives, ethics, has been closely intertwined with the inquiry into logos, ‘reason’ or ‘reason-ing’, practical and theoretical, human or divine. While ethics and logic have developed into two distinct sub-disciplines of philosophy, different philosophical approaches to normative ethics (the study of the principles of right and wrong) and ‘meta-ethics’ (the study of the nature and methods of ethics itself) often spring forth from different conceptions of the role that reason and argument (ought to) play in human morality, and from different assessments of the validity of certain key arguments (or alleged ‘fallacies’) in ethics and of the force and implications of certain ‘dilemmas’ or ‘paradoxes’. Through a selection of texts and case studies (including Plato, Aristotle, the Stoics, Hume, Kant, Mill, Moore, Mackie), this part of the course will offer a perspective on how ethical discourse and debate were and remain deeply informed by the language and tools of logic. 

    In the second week, we will focus on some topics of theoretical and practical philosophy. In particular, topics like skepticism, the nature of the mind, free will, and the moral permissibility (or not) of abortion will be discussed.


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