The Value & Meaning of Life - PHI00075H

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Christopher Belshaw
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2019-20

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2019-20

Module aims

Subject Content

  • To explore some key issues concerning value, and the different kinds of value, in particular as this relates to human and non-human life. We will ask, what makes a life worth living/worth starting/worth saving?
  • To consider, especially in connection with human life, notions of well-being, happiness, meaning, and to investigate the relations between these


Academic and Graduate Skills
To develop students' abilities to:

  • read, analyse, sum and comment on philosophical texts;
  • think dispassionately about important questions of widespread concern both within and without the academic community;
  • construct and defend arguments for and/or against positions relating to such questions

Module learning outcomes

Subject content
Students will be able to
Understand, comment on and develop and defend their own views on issues such as competing accounts of value, moral status, sanctity and quality views of life, asymmetries concerning life and death
Understand, comment on and develop and defend their own views on matters relating to happiness and meaning in human life, including the desirability of the former, the coherence of the latter, the bearing of death, God, and immortality on each.

Academic and graduate skills
Students will be better able to:

  • read, analyse, sum and comment on philosophical texts;
  • think dispassionately about important questions of widespread concern both within and without the academic community;
  • construct and defend arguments for and/or against positions relating to such questions

Module content

  • We will first consider some questions about the value of life - what sorts of value different lives might have; what their having this value depends on; whether lives have this value equally; what follows for our dealings with lives that they have this value. Questions about the sanctity of life, intrinsic value, moral status, will figure here. Also here will be discussion of whether (and how) it might be bad for us that our lives end; whether (and how) it might be good for us that our lives begin.
  • We will go on to consider questions about the meaning of life - whether life might be meaningful, and if so how; what bearing religion, death, beliefs about meaning have on life's meaning; whether meaning might be overrated.
  • The two areas contrast in this way - in the first we consider human, animal and plant life while in the second the focus is very much on human life. But also, the two areas are linked - to what extent is a valuable human life a meaningful life?

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive feedback on the 1500 word essay or essay plan two weeks after they submit it.

Students will receive feedback on the 4000 word summative assessment and re-assessment four weeks after they submit it.

Indicative reading

Ronald Dworkin Life's Dominion Knopf 1993 (just some parts of this)

Susan Wolf Meaning in Life and Why it Matters Princeton UP 2012



The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.