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Mind and Morality - PHI00123H

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Daniel Morgan
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

This module looks at the psychological dimensions of morality. We examine the interplay between perennial philosophical questions about moral responsibility, motivation and decision-making and a rapidly growing body of work in empirical psychology that helps sheds light on those questions.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2021-22

Module aims

  • To foster an appreciation of some of the key issues in moral psychology 

  • To give students an appreciation of how empirical research can shed light on philosophical concerns

  • To give students an appreciation of how philosophical concerns can guide the direction of empirical research 

  • To encourage students to think carefully and critically about differences between individuals’ cognitive and affective capacities 

  • To help students to see the real-world significance of various philosophical ideas and arguments.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

—understand and explain a range of key problems, issues, and debates in moral psychology and express this understanding in clear, precise, and accessible terms

—develop and articulate ranges of alternative solutions to problems and issues in moral psychology in an open-minded way, drawing on module materials

—develop and articulate arguments for the alternative solutions considered in relation to problems and issues in moral psychology, drawing on module materials, identifying some points of weakness and some potential points for development

—make a judgement about what is the best view on a particular problem in moral psychology and argue in defence of this judgement

—identify some of their strengths and weaknesses by evaluating their own work in relation to departmental marking criteria

—apply simple strategies for improving their work, based on critical reflection, advice, and feedback

 

Module content

The module looks at broad philosophical questions about moral responsibility, motivation and decision-making (e.g. Is altruism possible?; What kinds of motivations are praise or blameworthy? What are the psychological preconditions on moral responsibility?). It examines the interplay between these broad questions and some empirical topics (e.g. addiction, implicit bias, psychopathy, situational influences on decision-making). The empirical topics selected serve as test-cases for answers to the broad philosophical questions, as well as being independently philosophically interesting. 

The provisional module schedule is as follows: 

Week 2: egoism and altruism. 

Week 3: Humean and Kantian theories of moral motivation  

Week 4: autism, psychopathy and moral motivation

Week 5: addiction 

Week 6: situationism and responsibility

Week 7: implicit bias

Week 8: implicit bias and responsibility

Week 9: virtue signalling 

Week 10: tutorials

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay (4000 words)
N/A 100

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

The 1,000-word formative essay plan will be submitted on Monday, Week 7, Autumn Term.

The 4,000-word summative essay will be submitted on Monday, Week 2, Spring Term.

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay (4000 words)
N/A 100

Module feedback

Formative assessment will take the form of tutorial feedback.

Summative feedback will be returned 4 weeks after submission. 

Indicative reading

Nomy Arpaly and Timothy Shroeder (2014), In Praise of Desire, Oxford: OUP. 

Richard Holton (2009), Willing, wanting, waiting, Oxford: OUP.

Carolina Sartorio (2018), ‘Situations and responsiveness to reasons’, Noûs 52 (4):796-807.

Neil Levy (forthcoming), ‘Virtue signalling is virtuous’ (forthcoming), Synthese, 1-18/ 

Jeanette Kennett (2002), ‘Autism, Empathy and Moral Agency’, Philosophical Quarterly 52 (208), 340-357.

Heidi Maibom (2005), ‘Moral Unreason: The Case of Psychopathy’. Mind and Language 20 (2), 237–257.

 



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.