Philosophy at St Andrews

Taught postgraduate modules

PY5099 | PY5101 | PY5102 | PY5103 | PY5203 | PY5204 | PY5205 | PY5212 | PY5213 | PY5214 | PY5310 | PY5312 | PY5315 | PY5318 | PY5319 | PY5324 | PY5325 | PY5403

PY5099 Dissertation for M.Litt. Programme/s

60 credits

Student dissertations will be supervised by members of the teaching staff who will advise on the choice of subject and provide guidance throughout the research process. The completed dissertation of not more than 15,000 words must be submitted by mid-August.

Semester: Whole year
Credits: 60
Time: At times to be arranged with the supervisor
Teaching: Individual Supervision

PY5101 Current Issues in Philosophy I

20 credits

Ethics: Professor Rowan Cruft
Epistemology: Dr Sonia Roca Royes


This module, together with PY5102 Current Issues II in semester 2, covers recent work in four central
areas of philosophy, each of them in a section of 11 hours. The four areas are Epistemology, Ethics,
Philosophy of Language and Philosophy of Mind.


Epistemology and Ethics will be covered in PY5101, Philosophy of Language and Philosophy Mind will be
covered in PY5102.


The Epistemology section will cover the main topics in Epistemology and become acquainted with
important terminology and “slogans”, such as: JTB, Closure, Tracking, Sensitivity, Reliabilism, Safety,
Contextualism, Peer-disagreement.


The Ethics section will include topics from among the following: the relation between moral requirements,
good consequences and luck; what the concept of rights adds to a morality
of duties, goals and reasons; double effect and the moral significance of intention; questions in meta-ethics
about the supervenience of the normative on non-normative facts.

Semester: 1
Credits: 20
Time: Monday, 11am - 1pm; Room C1/C2, Pathfoot Building, Stirling
Coordinator: Rowan Cruft
Additional lecturers: Sonia Roca-Royes

PY5102 Current Issues in Philosophy II

20 credits

The topic of the language half of the module will be controversies over words. It will cover topics
including meta-linguistic negotiation, lexical effects, and slurs.


The topic of the mind half of the module will be controversies over concepts. It will cover topics including
the nature of concepts, the role of concepts in psychological explanation, whether concepts are shared
between different thinkers, whether internal or external factors determine the content of concepts, and the
normativity of concepts.

Semester: 2
Credits: 20
Time: Monday, 11am - 12pm; Room 310, Irvine George Cumming, St Andrews

Thursday, 10am - 11am (tutorial), 11am- 12pm (tutorial); Room 104, Edgecliffe, St Andrews
Coordinator: Derek Ball
Additional lecturers: Herman Cappelen

PY5103 Research Methods

20 credits

Epistemology, Mind & Language - Dr Giacomo Melis and Mr Giovanni Merlo


It is natural to conceive of empirical thought as the result of a 'cooperation' between sensory experience, on
the one hand, and our rational conceptual faculties, on the other. But how is this cooperation possible? How
can the the inputs we receive from our sensory organs have a rational, and not merely causal, influence on
the beliefs we form about the outer world? In Mind and World, McDowell exposes the difficulties involved
in providing a satisfactory answer to these questions – one that vindicates the possibility of empirical
thought without fall prey of the infamous 'Myth of the Given'. Along the way, he touches on many crucial
topics in the philosophy of mind and language, including the justification of experiential judgments, the
existence of non-conceptual content, the limits and prospects of contemporary attempts to naturalize the
mind.


In this module, we will work our way through McDowell's book, trying to domesticate his (notoriously
difficult) style of writing and philosophizing. Other readings will include texts from C. I. Lewis, Anscombe
and Davidson.

 
Moral, Political, Legal - Dr Kent Hurtig


Value theory, or axiology, concerns which things are good or bad, how good or bad
they are, and, most fundamentally, what it is for a thing to be good or bad. Already this
brief characterization of our topic raises a host of questions: What kind of value is in
question? What kinds of things are or can be valuable? How can values be compared
and measured? How does value theory bear on practical issues in ethics and other disciplines?
These are all topics that may be covered in this module.


As a philosophical discipline, value theory branches out in various directions. It overlaps
partly with metaethics in that it investigates evaluative concepts and the nature of
value. It also overlaps partly with normative ethics in that it studies what things are good
or bad in themselves or as means; what things are good or bad for people; and how the
value of outcomes relates to the moral rightness and wrongness of actions. Debates in
value theory are sometimes closely associated with consequentialist theories of moral
rightness and wrongness. Many consequentialist theories (e.g., classical utilitarianism)
are based on some sort of value theory (for example, that happiness is the only thing
of intrinsic value). But several prominent non-consequentialist moral theories—such as
Kantianism and W. D. Ross’s theory of prima facie duties, to name only two examples—
involve theories or principles about value. Value theory is thus not solely a concern for
consequentialism and its advocates. Moreover, issues about value arise not only in
philosophical disciplines that pertain directly to ethics, but also, for example, in
epistemology, aesthetics, philosophy of religion, and political philosophy (insofar as this is distinct from
ethics).


In this stream we will use The Oxford Handbook of Value Theory (OUP, 2015) as our main text. For the
first session you should have read ‘Introduction to Value Theory’ by Olson and Hirose in this volume.

 

Logic and Metaphysics - Dr Colin Johnston


Tense may be defined as that feature of sentences through which the notions of past, present and future are
expressed. In this stream, we shall discuss a range of papers centred around the question of the metaphysical
significance of tense – or equivalently the metaphysical significance of past, present and future. A majority
of philosophers hold tense to be a matter of mere indexicality, reflecting nothing in the phenomena it is used
to express. Matters of past, present and future are without ontological or metaphysical
significance. Various authors reject this position, however, arguing that tense is essential for understanding
change, or again that an asymmetry of openness between past and future must be maintained on pain of
fatalism. Large issues not specific to time will surface in our discussions, in particular the nature of truth,
fact and indexicality. We shall consider also the question of where the philosopher of time is theorising from:
whether they speak ‘as from outside time’, or whether it is essential to their account that they offer it from a
position in time.


Our first reading will be McTaggart’s famous paper ‘The unreality of time’ (Mind 17 (1908): 457-474), and
this will set the scene for much of the later discussion. One important reaction to McTaggart is E.J. Lowe’s
‘The indexical fallacy in McTaggart’s proof of the unreality of time’ (Mind 96 (1987): 62-70). Later on we
shall look at S. Rödl’s ‘Empirical and temporal thought’ (chapter 2 of Categories of the temporal, Harvard
University Press (2012)), J. Perry’s ‘The problem of the essential indexical’ (Nous 13 (1979): 3-21) and M.
Dummett’s ‘Bringing about the past’ (Philosophical Review 73 (1964): 338-359).

 
History - Dr Alex Douglas


This stream explores approaches and methods in the history of philosophy. Each week a student will give a
short presentation presenting and interpreting a problematic passage from a primary source in the history of
philosophy of around 5000 words. The aim is to find a single difficult argument and critically interpret it
using the techniques of history of philosophy. We will discuss the interpretation, and the student will
receive some constructive feedback on the presentation structure and style.
At the same time, we will address some fundamental questions about the nature of the discipline: What is
the purpose of studying the history of philosophy? What is the relation between ‘doing’ philosophy and
studying its history? Why should philosophers be interested in the history of philosophy? What is the right
way to approach the history of philosophy? Why do some philosophers make it into the canon while others
are excluded? How should we feel about this?

Semester: 1
Credits: 20
Time: Monday, 3pm - 4:30pm; Room C1/C2, Pathfoot Building, Stirling
Coordinator: Kent Hurtig
Additional lecturers: Alex Douglas, Colin Johnston, Giacomo Melis and Giovanni Merlo

PY5203 Kant

20 credits

This module will focus on Kant's critical philosophy. The primary text will be one of his three Critiques,
and it may include consideration of themes in Kant's political philosophy, philosophy of religion or
philosophy of history. The Cambridge translations are recommended.


In 2018/19, the course will focus on the second of Kant’s three ‘Critiques’, the Critique of Practical
Reason of 1788, but it will also provide an overview of Kant’s critical philosophy as a whole. Particular
topics include moral consciousness (the 'fact of reason'), the nature of moral goodness, Kant's theory of
respect as the sole motive of moral action, his reconciliation of freedom and determinism, the unity of
theoretical and practical reason, Kant’s theory of the highest good and his attempt to re-substantiate the
ideas of God and immortality, as well as his theory of moral education.

Semester: 1
Credits: 20
Time: Wednesday, 9am - 11am; Room 104, Edgecliffe, St Andrews
Coordinator: Jens Timmermann

PY5204 Moral and Political Philosophy in the Nineteenth Century

0 credits

This module will study some of the more influential ethical and political ideas of the 19th century, placing
them in their historical and philosophical context while also considering their relevance to philosophy today.
The course is organised around the work of Hegel, Mill and Nietzsche.


It will focus on Hegel’s „Elements of the Philosophy of Right“ (1821), but it will also provide an overview
of the most influential ethical and political theories of the 19th century (Mill, Nietzsche) Particular topics
include Hegel’s Speculative Method, Freedom and Free Will, Responsibility, the Good and the Conscience,
Ethical Duty and Virtue.

Semester: 2
Credits: 0
Time: Wednesday, 11am - 1pm; Room G01, Edgecliffe, St Andrews
Coordinator: Antonino Falduto

PY5205 Origins of Analytic Philosophy

20 credits

The module has three components, of somewhat unequal length:


(A) Frege: Seminars 1-5
(B) Russell: Seminars 6-8
(C) Ramsey: Seminars 9-10


The components thus introduce aspects of the work of three great figures of early analytic
philosophy (one might say, three of the four, the fourth being the early Wittgenstein, some of
whose ideas will figure in connection with Ramsey towards the end of the course).
The theme that links the components is, most broadly, logic and the analysis of propositions; or
more specifically, how these figures were led to conceive of propositions, their constituents, and
their make-up in order that propositions should be the kinds of things whose interconnections are
delineated in the new logic that Frege introduced. Through close reading of selected texts, the
course aims to impart an understanding of the contrasting conceptions available within the early
analytic tradition of the relationship between, on the one hand, the categories used in the
explanation of logical inferences amongst statements, and on the other, the most general
categories of entities that statements refer to or describe – hence, of the relation between logic
and metaphysics.


Frege: Begriffsschrift, Preface and ch. I, in T. Bynum (trans.) Conceptual Notation (CN), also in
Philosophical Writings, trans. P.T. Geach and M. Black, also in J. van Heijenoort (ed.) From
Frege to Gödel. “Logic”, in Posthumous Writings (PW), pp. 1-8.
Russell: Principles of Mathematics, ch. V, esp. §§ 56-58. “On Denoting”, in Logic and
Knowledge, also in Papers vol 4. Principia, Introduction, ch. III, §1, esp. pp. 66-69.
F. P. Ramsey, “Universals”, Mind 1925, also in his Foundations of Mathematics (1931) and
subsequent editions of his papers.

Semester: 1
Credits: 20
Time: Tuesday, 11am - 1pm; Room 104, Edgecliffe, St Andrews
Coordinator: Peter Sullivan

PY5212 Formal Epistemology

20 credits

This module provides an introduction to issues in Formal Epistemology. The course includes an
introduction to probability theory and decision theory. Topics include dutch-book arguments,
accuracy arguments. Bayesian confirmation, degrees of belief vs belief, reflection
principles, Bayes’ theorem as well as the L.A.Paul’s recent challenge to decision theory based on
the concepts of a “transformative experience”.


As preparation students are encouraged to consult Bradley’s “Critical Introduction to
Formal Epistemology”, which offers an introduction to the general topic. The course itself will
delve into more detail than this introduction. Willingness to engage with formal methods (logic
& probability theory) is essential.

Semester: 2
Credits: 20
Time: Monday, 1pm – 3pm; Room G03, Edgecliffe, St Andrews
Coordinator: Philip Ebert
Additional lecturers: Peter Milne

PY5213 Texts in the History of Political Philosophy

20 credits

In 2018-19, the text studied will be John Locke's Two Treatises of Government.
Edition to be used: John Locke, Two Treatises of Government. Ed. Peter Laslett. Student edition.
Cambridge University Press, 1988.


Topics to be covered:


1. Introduction to Two Treatises of Government; the political theory of Sir Robert Filmer
2. Locke's critique of Filmer in the First Treatise
3. Locke's theory of natural law; the state of nature
4. Locke on property
5. The origins and purpose of government
6. The powers of government, political representation, and the nature of Lockean political liberty
7. The right of resistance


In the second part of the semester, we will discuss key studies of Locke's political thought, as follows:


8. John Dunn. The Political Thought of John Locke. Cambride UP, 1968.
9. Richard Ashcraft. Revolutionary Politics and Locke's Two Treatises of Government. Princeton UP, 1989.
10. A. J. Simmons. On the Edge of Anarchy: Locke, Consent, and the Limits of Society. Princeton UP,
1993.
11. Jeremy Waldron. God, Locke and Equality. Cambridge UP, 2002.

Semester: 2
Credits: 20
Time: Thursday, 2pm – 4pm; Room 104, Edgecliffe, St Andrews
Coordinator: James Harris

PY5214 Wittgenstein

20 credits

This course will cover key themes in Wittgenstein, early and late, regarding language, thought and their
relation to the world. More specifically, we shall focus with the early Wittgenstein on the ‘picture theory’
(7 seminars), and with the late Wittgenstein on the idea of a language game and the ‘rule following
considerations’. (4 seminars).

Semester: 2
Credits: 20
Time: Tuesday, 12pm - 2pm; Room 104, Edgecliffe, St Andrews
Coordinator: Peter Sullivan

PY5310 Philosophy of Mind

20 credits

The module will look at the philosophical dimensions of a number of debates that occur at the intersection
between philosophy, scientific psychology and cognitive science. Particular attention will be paid to relating
these debates to more traditional problems in metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of mind.
Philosophy of mind is increasingly studied in an interdisciplinary fashion: traditional philosophical
approaches are combined with empirical data from the cognitive sciences. This module aims to familiarise
graduate students with up-to-the-minute issues that are occurring at the intersection between philosophy and
the empirical sciences of mind. More specifically, an increasing amount of work in cognitive science favours
explanations of psychological phenomena that fall under the banner of the embodied, embedded, extended
and enactive mind. According to this emerging paradigm, thinking is routinely dependent, in complex and
intricate ways, on (a) bodily structures and events (e.g. the precise wiring and chemistry of the brain, bodily
gestures and movements) and (b) the bodily exploitation of external props and scaffolds (e.g. notebooks,
smartphones). Controversially, these patterns of bodily and environmental dependence are often heralded
as challenging the traditional cognitive-scientific vision of mind as a brain-bound but abstractly defined
computational system, sandwiched between sensory input and motor output. Indeed, in its most provocative
form, the new perspective claims that there are actual cases of intelligent action in which thinking is
distributed over brain, body and world, in such a way that the external (beyond-the-skin) factors concerned
are rightly accorded cognitive status. In other words, mind is located partly outside the boundaries of skull
and skin. Following some material that is designed to bring us up to speed on the most prominent traditional
views in cognitive science, this module will involve the analysis and discussion of a selection of papers that
have helped to set the agenda for the current debate around mind as embodied, embedded, extended and
enactive.

Semester: 2
Credits: 20
Time: Tuesday, 10am - 12pm; Seminar Room 3, St Mary's College
Coordinator: Michael Wheeler

PY5312 Aesthetics

20 credits

Creativity in art


Most work in analytic aesthetics has been focussed on the reception of art works. This module in contrast
addresses issues about their creation. The readings will be drawn not only from philosophy, but also from
art history, psychology, computer science and cultural evolutionary theory. Artistic creativity will be
compared to creativity in other domains such as science, technology, philosophy and everyday life, so as to
identify differences as well as similarities.


Issues that will be addressed (arranged by week) include:


1. What is the definition of 'creativity'? If creativity includes a value requirement, does this show that
immoral artworks cannot be creative?


2. Is creativity in art a kind of virtue? If so, is it an aesthetic virtue? What is its connection with other
virtues identified by virtue theories of art?


3. Is there an irrational element to artistic creativity, as Plato argued and some empirical evidence
suggests? If so, how does this square with the claim that creativity is a virtue?


4. It is often held that scientific creativity is a form of problem solving: is this also true of artistic
creativity? If so, is it best understood in terms of the cognitive scientific theory that problem
solving consists in generating and testing hypotheses, and searching through a problem space? Are
there heuristics for artistic creativity?


5. Are computational theories of artistic creativity correct? There are many computer programs, such
as Harold Cohen's AARON, that appear to be creative, but could a computer ever really be
creative?


6. Does artistic creativity depend on knowledge and is it partly constituted by a skill? Or is there an
essential relation, as several philosophers have claimed, between creativity and lack of knowledge?


7. What is the role of imagination in artistic creativity? How does the use of imagination relate to
play, particularly childhood play?


8. Is there a role for unconscious inspiration in artistic creativity, as is commonly believed? If so, how
does it relate to the artist's intentional making of an artwork? Is the role of the unconscious
consistent with the artist being praised for her creative output?

9. Do jazz and other forms of improvisation show that creativity primarily concerns ways of acting
rather than of coming up with ideas? Is artistic creativity more 'blind' in its operation than is
scientific creativity, as Darwinian theorists of creativity maintain?


10. What is the relation of artistic creativity to artistic tradition: are they incompatible or does creativity
require tradition? What can cultural evolutionary theory teach us about their relationship?


11. Is all creative activity in art collaborative, as Collingwood and sociocultural theorists of creativity
maintain? Is there such a thing as group creativity?

Semester: 2
Credits: 20
Time: Tuesday, 2pm – 4pm; Room 104, Edgecliffe, St Andrews
Coordinator: Berys Gaut

PY5315 Philosophy of Law

20 credits

This module provides a basis for thinking about the relationship between law and morality. In Part 1 the
topic is whether the criminal law should have a moral agenda; in Part 2 the topic is whether the law has
normative force and, whether, if so, of the moral kind.

Semester: 1
Credits: 20
Time: Thursday, 10am - 12pm; Room 104, Edgecliffe, St Andrews
Coordinator: Ben Sachs

PY5318 Political Philosophy

20 credits

The course will examine key topics in global justice, focusing in particular on the moral implications of
extreme poverty, environmental degradation and resource depletion and climate change, and the challenges
these pose to traditional conceptions of duties of justice and human rights. It will also examine the
philosophical foundations of human rights, and critical perspectives on the human rights movement.

Semester: 2
Credits: 20
Time: Friday, 2pm - 4pm; Room G03, Edgecliffe, St Andrews
Coordinator: Elizabeth Ashford

PY5319 Topics in Recent Moral Theory

20 credits

Subjectivity in value, normativity, and morality


In theorising about value, normativity, and morality we aim to understand what
it makes sense for us to do. A compelling thought is that what it makes sense for us to do
should depend on our subjective concerns and interests. If you and I care about different
things, then what it makes sense for you to do might differ from what it makes sense for me
to do. Otherwise, we risk being alienated from what is good for us, what we should do, and
so on. At the same time, it is hard to accept that there aren’t objective standards here.


For example, sometimes we are criticisable precisely because we have what seem to be
mistaken subjective concerns. This module explores issues surrounding subjectivity in
debates about value, normativity, and morality, from both first-order and metaethical
perspectives.


Possible topics include: historical precedents for subjectivism, normative reasons, wellbeing,
moral obligation, sentimentalism about morality, moral motivation, moral
disagreement, expressivism, and moral language.

Semester: 1
Credits: 20
Time: Tuesday, 2pm - 4pm; Room 104, Edgecliffe, St Andrews
Coordinator: Justin Snedegar
Additional lecturers: Adam Etinson

PY5324 Philosophy of Logic

20 credits

This course covers a range of mathematical techniques from philosophical logic, providing tools which
have seen increasing application across philosophy. The first part of this course introduces some key
concepts of set theory, algebra, group theory, order and lattice theory. The second part of the course
explores selected applications in metaphysics, formal semantics, and philosophy of language.

Semester: 1
Credits: 20
Time: Thursday, 3pm - 5pm; Room 104, Edgecliffe, St Andrews
Coordinator: Aaron Cotnoir
Additional lecturers: Franz Berto

PY5325 Texts in Contemporary Metaphysics

20 credits

This year, the module will focus on a range of issues in social metaphysics and social ontology, with an
emphasis on contemporary debate rather than historical texts. Topics will include the metaphysical nature
of social groups, including the relationship between group and group member; the metaphysical nature of
social categories such as race and gender; rival philosophical accounts of how social entities such as money
or the law are related to human minds, language, and the non-human physical world.

Semester: 2
Credits: 20
Time: Friday, 11am - 1pm; Room 104, Edgecliffe, St Andrews
Coordinator: Katherine Hawley

PY5403 Intuitions and Philosophical Methodology

20 credits

How should we defend philosophical claims, and to what extent does this involve appeal to intuition? Many
take appeal to intuitions about cases to be a standard part of philosophical methodology, for instance
intuitions about trolley cases, the Gettier case, Searle's Chinese room thought experiment, etc. But,
“experimental philosophers” argue that experimental data undermines the appeal to intuition and some go
so far as to suggest that we should replace armchair philosophising by empirical psychological
investigation. How should we respond to the experimental challenge?


Philosophy can seem as a discipline to have achieved much less consensus than other disciplines,
particularly scientific ones. Does widespread disagreement about philosophical theories, say of the nature
of knowledge or what’s morally right, show that philosophy is in worse shape than other intellectual
disciplines, and can we understand philosophy as making progress despite this disagreement?


These and related questions form the heart of this MLitt module on recent work in philosophical
methodology. More specific questions to be addressed include:


- What are intuitions, and to what extent are intuitions central to the practice of philosophy?


- To what extent does the new "experimental philosophy" challenge traditional philosophical
theorizing, and the appeal to intuition?


- What is the significance of long-standing disagreement about key philosophical issues? Does such
disagreement show that philosophy is in bad epistemic shape? Are philosophical disputes merely or
largely verbal?


- What constitutes progress in philosophy if not consensus?


- Need one revise one’s belief in a philosophical theory in the light of disagreement from other
philosophers?


- Under what conditions can philosophers reasonably set aside intuitions contrary to their position?

Semester: 2
Credits: 20
Time: Wednesday, 9am - 11am; Room 104, Edgecliffe, St Andrews
Coordinator: Jessica Brown