Courses

Below you find the course descriptions of Philosophy. The programme consists of compulsory courses, electives and a Master's thesis. You can follow two different tracks. Read more about the Study Programme.

 

Compulsory

PHI- Core Seminar 1 (compulsory)

The Core Seminars are semester-long course that combine an in-depth investigation of a philosophical topic with training in key skills and interaction with researchers from ongoing research projects. Staff from two different areas of philosophy co-teach the seminar on a topic that draws on their overlapping research interests, but from distinct approaches. At various points in the semester, researchers form the department will present ongoing research and engage with students on connection with the seminar’s theme.
In the Core Seminar 1, the development of professional skills focuses on paper writing, literature research, presentation skills, and giving and responding to feedback.

The topic for 2020-2021: Human Nature and Human Action
We are rational animals; we are political animals, Aristotle used to say. Two very famous definitions, apparently simple if not banal. As a matter of fact, the source of many problems indeed, as a close reading of the Nicomachean Ethics suffices to prove. What does it mean that we are rational? What does reason stand for? We think, we know, we talk … and we act: what is the relation between reason and action? These are some of the questions we are going to address in our course by combining an historical and a theoretical approach. We will focus on a close reading of Aristotle and Hannah Arendt, together with recent philosophical debates on practical reasoning and its limits. More specifically, once we have clarified the problem of reason (the Greek logos, a word with many meanings), we will proceed along two lines, by tackling two major problems, the relation between knowledge and action (Aristotle, Anscombe, Ford, Fernandez), and the opposition between creation and production on the one side and action on the other (Aristotle, Arendt, Ryle, Schuringa). In the first part, we will discuss both Aristotle's and neo-Aristotelian accounts of the capacity for practical reasoning, and also pay attention to the question how this capacity can misfire. In the second part, we will discuss Arendt's views on work, action and judgement, and discuss critical recent responses to her ideas.
Part of the seminar is also dedicated to the development of professional research skills. Among other things, we will take a closer look at literature research, oral presentations, giving and responding to feedback and writing an academic paper.

PHI- Core Seminar 2 (compulsory)

The Core Seminars are semester-long course that combine an in-depth investigation of a philosophical topic with training in key skills and interaction with researchers from ongoing research projects. Staff from two different areas of philosophy co-teach the seminar on a topic that draws on their overlapping research interests, but from distinct approaches. At various points in the semester, researchers form the department will present ongoing research and engage with students on connection with the seminar’s theme.

CS Research School Seminar in Philosophy year 1 (compulsory)

As members of the Netherlands Research School in Philosophy (OZSW) or the National Research School in Classical Studies (OIKOS), Research Master's students complete seminars selected from a course list coordinated by the research schools. These are either (1) designated seminars offered by various Dutch universities (including Utrecht) or (2) one of the research school's special offerings (e.g. the annual OZSW Winter School for Research Master's students).(1) In the case of regularly offered courses, students register for the selected course at the host university (using that university's course code and title). The results for that course (including course title and grade) are then subsequently registered as Research School Seminar Year 1 (OFRM14001) or Research School Seminar Year 2 (OFRM14002). (For more detailed instructions, see the RMA Philosophy Handbook.) (2) In the case of special Research School offerings, credit and grades will be registered directly as Research School Seminar Year 1 (OFRM14001) or Research School Seminar Year 2 (OFRM14002), on the basis of a report provided to the RMA Coordinator by the coordinator of the research school event. Credits for the seminar varies, but the number of credits for the two Research School Seminars must add up to at least 10 ECTS. Students who are abroad in their second year are excused from the second year requirement. Information about available courses: http://www.ru.nl/oikos/research-master/ma-courses/ http://www.ozsw.nl/courses-seminars-for-research-master-students/

Useful instructions: http://www.ozsw.nl/exchange-between-dutch-universities/

Students who complete 30 EC at a university abroad are required to earn a minimum of 5 EC (rather than the standard requirement of 10 EC) that meet the conditions for the Research School Seminar.

CS Research School Seminar in Philosophy year 2 (compulsory)

As members of the Netherlands Research School in Philosophy (OZSW) or the National Research School in Classical Studies (OIKOS), Research Master's students complete seminars selected from a course list coordinated by the research schools. These are either (1) designated seminars offered by various Dutch universities (including Utrecht) or (2) one of the research school's special offerings (e.g. the annual OZSW Winter school for Research Master's students).(1) In the case of regularly offered courses, students register for the selected course at the host university (using that university's course code and title). The results for that course (including course title and grade) are then subsequently registered as Research School Seminar Year 1 (OFRM14001) or Research School Seminar Year 2 (OFRM14002). (For more detailed instructions, see the RMA Philosophy handbook.)(2) In the case of special Research School offerings, credit and grades will be registered directly as Research School Seminar Year 1 (OFRM14001) or Research School Seminar Year 2 (OFRM14002), on the basis of a report provided to the RMA Coordinator by the coordinator of the research school event. Credits for the seminar varies, but the number of credits for the two Research School Seminars must add up to at least 10 ECTS.
Students who are abroad in their second year are excused from the second year requirement. Information about available courses:
http://www.ru.nl/oikos/research-master/ma-courses/http://www.ozsw.nl/courses-seminars-for-research-master-students/

Useful instructions: http://www.ozsw.nl/exchange-between-dutch-universities/

Research Colloquium Year 1 (compulsory)

In both years, the Research Colloquia provides a key context in which students are connected with state-of-the-art research. Year-long colloquia are offered simultaneously in each of the three areas of the department's philosophy research programmes: Practical Philosophy (PF), Theoretical Philosophy (TF), and History of Philosophy (GF). In consultation with the Research Master coordinator, students select the most suitable research group to be associated with in each of the two years of the programme. As a course, the Research Colloquia comprises participation in the colloquium meetings of graduate students, postdocs and academic staff in the respective research areas. The content is centered on the current research projects carried out by the staff. In addition, participation in the annual Utrecht Philosophy Lectures and workshops brings research master students into contact with current work being done by leading international scholars. Students are also expected to participate in the annual interdisciplinary conference organized by students and PhD researchers in the Graduate School of Humanities, which provides students with a broader perspective regarding ongoing research in different subfields of the humanities, and create a network of young scholars beyond their area of specialization

Research Colloquium Year 2 (compulsory)

In both years, the Research Colloquia provides a key context in which students are connected with state-of-the-art research. Year-long colloquia are offered simultaneously in each of the three areas of the department's philosophy research programmes: Practical Philosophy (PF), Theoretical Philosophy (TF), and History of Philosophy (GF). In consultation with the Research Master coordinator, students select the most suitable research group to be associated with in each of the two years of the programme. As a course, the Research Colloquia comprises participation in the colloquium meetings of graduate students, postdocs and academic staff in the respective research areas. The content is centered on the current research projects carried out by the staff. In addition, participation in the annual Utrecht Philosophy Lectures and workshops brings research master students into contact with current work being done by leading international scholars. Students are also expected to participate in the annual interdisciplinary conference organized by students and PhD researchers in the Graduate School of Humanities, which provides students with a broader perspective regarding ongoing research in different subfields of the humanities, and create a network of young scholars beyond their area of specialization. Finally, second year students are expected to participate in two workshops during the year related to professional development and career planning.

CS Research School Seminar in Philosophy year 1 (compulsory)

As members of the Netherlands Research School in Philosophy (OZSW) or the National Research School in Classical Studies (OIKOS), Research Master's students complete seminars selected from a course list coordinated by the research schools. These are either (1) designated seminars offered by various Dutch universities (including Utrecht) or (2) one of the research school's special offerings (e.g. the annual OZSW Winter School for Research Master's students).(1) In the case of regularly offered courses, students register for the selected course at the host university (using that university's course code and title). The results for that course (including course title and grade) are then subsequently registered as Research School Seminar Year 1 (OFRM14001) or Research School Seminar Year 2 (OFRM14002). (For more detailed instructions, see the RMA Philosophy Handbook.) (2) In the case of special Research School offerings, credit and grades will be registered directly as Research School Seminar Year 1 (OFRM14001) or Research School Seminar Year 2 (OFRM14002), on the basis of a report provided to the RMA Coordinator by the coordinator of the research school event. Credits for the seminar varies, but the number of credits for the two Research School Seminars must add up to at least 10 ECTS. Students who are abroad in their second year are excused from the second year requirement. Information about available courses: http://www.ru.nl/oikos/research-master/ma-courses/ http://www.ozsw.nl/courses-seminars-for-research-master-students/

Useful instructions: http://www.ozsw.nl/exchange-between-dutch-universities/

Students who complete 30 EC at a university abroad are required to earn a minimum of 5 EC (rather than the standard requirement of 10 EC) that meet the conditions for the Research School Seminar.

CS Research School Seminar in Philosophy year 2 (compulsory)

As members of the Netherlands Research School in Philosophy (OZSW) or the National Research School in Classical Studies (OIKOS), Research Master's students complete seminars selected from a course list coordinated by the research schools. These are either (1) designated seminars offered by various Dutch universities (including Utrecht) or (2) one of the research school's special offerings (e.g. the annual OZSW Winter school for Research Master's students).(1) In the case of regularly offered courses, students register for the selected course at the host university (using that university's course code and title). The results for that course (including course title and grade) are then subsequently registered as Research School Seminar Year 1 (OFRM14001) or Research School Seminar Year 2 (OFRM14002). (For more detailed instructions, see the RMA Philosophy handbook.)(2) In the case of special Research School offerings, credit and grades will be registered directly as Research School Seminar Year 1 (OFRM14001) or Research School Seminar Year 2 (OFRM14002), on the basis of a report provided to the RMA Coordinator by the coordinator of the research school event. Credits for the seminar varies, but the number of credits for the two Research School Seminars must add up to at least 10 ECTS.
Students who are abroad in their second year are excused from the second year requirement. Information about available courses:
http://www.ru.nl/oikos/research-master/ma-courses/http://www.ozsw.nl/courses-seminars-for-research-master-students/

Useful instructions: http://www.ozsw.nl/exchange-between-dutch-universities/

Tutorial Philosophy 1 (compulsory)

Tutorials are organized on a range of specialized topics, tailored to the current research activity research staff in philosophy and the research interests of students. In regular sessions, a small group of students meet with the tutorial leader to discuss research problems and challenges on a topic in the instructor's field of expertise. Using close readings and short presentations regarding a substantial reading list of philosophical texts, a tutorial provides a thorough introduction to the current praxis of research in a particular subject. The tutorial concludes with a final research paper on a topic covered in the tutorial.

Topics for each year are determined in the first two weeks of Block 1. The dates and locations of Tutorial meetings are flexible and are determined jointly by the students and staff for the tutorial. Details are specified at the start of the tutorial and written up in a “Tutorial Protocol," which is available in the RMA Philosophy Handbook.

The number of EC credits awarded for a Tutorial varies (5 EC, 7.5 EC or 10 EC), depending on the workload, as established in the Tutorial Protocol for the tutorial in question.

Students in the M.A. “History and Philosophy of Science” who are interested in enrolling in or organizing a tutorial (which can be for 7,5 EC) should contact both the HPS programme coordinator and the Philosophy porgramme coordinator (who is also the course coordinator) prior to the enrollment period for the relevant semester.

The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coordinator. Therefore, you do not have to contact the Programme coordinator yourself.

Tutorial Philosophy 2 (compulsory)

Tutorials are organized on a range of specialized topics, tailored to the current research activity research staff in philosophy and the research interests of students. In regular sessions, a small group of students meet with the tutorial leader to discuss research problems and challenges on a topic in the instructor's field of expertise. Using close readings and short presentations regarding a substantial reading list of philosophical texts, a tutorial provides a thorough introduction to the current praxis of research in a particular subject. The tutorial concludes with a final research paper on a topic covered in the tutorial.

Topics for each year are determined in the first two weeks of Block 1. The dates and locations of Tutorial meetings are flexible and are determined jointly by the students and staff for the tutorial. Details are specified at the start of the tutorial and written up in a “Tutorial Protocol," which is available in the RMA Philosophy Handbook.

The number of EC credits awarded for a Tutorial varies (5 EC, 7.5 EC or 10 EC), depending on the workload, as established in the Tutorial Protocol for the tutorial in question.

Students in the M.A. “History and Philosophy of Science” who are interested in enrolling in or organizing a tutorial (which can be for 7,5 EC) should contact the HPS programme coordinator prior to the enrollment period for the relevant semester.

Master Thesis Research Master (compulsory)

The RMA thesis is a scholarly text in which you are expected to contribute, on the basis of independent research, to a debate within your discipline. It should be structured around a central research question (set out in the introductory sections) to which it provides an answer (set out in the conclusion).
The central research question, to be determined in consultation with your thesis supervisor, should be clearly formulated at the beginning and its relevance to scholarly discussions within the discipline set out. The body of the text should explicate and defend your approach, your findings, and your overall argument in favor of your central claims. In your conclusion you should analyze your findings in the light of your original question and explain the broader implications of your conclusions.

The thesis should be written in correct and clear English. It will normally be 16.000 to 32.000 words long and may not exceed 40.000 words (including notes and bibliography).

The final version of the thesis is due at the end of the 9th week of block 4. An oral examination of the thesis (the “viva”) will be held approximately two weeks later, involving the student and a committee of three examiners.
As part of the thesis writing process, students participate in two workshops in which their plans for the thesis and a draft of a chapter are discussed.
More information is available in the RMA Philosophy Thesis Handbook, via Blackboard.

Study Abroad / Across the Border (compulsory)

In order to apply for an exchange, you have to prepare a study plan which must be approved by the programme coordinator of your Master programme.
You should be aware that application for studying abroad is a complicated and time-consuming process and that you should start the process on time.

For more information:
http://students.uu.nl/en/academics/study-abroad
http://students.uu.nl/en/academics/study-abroad/faculty-information/humanities

Electives

Digital Ethics

As more and more aspects of our lives - including research in the humanities - become digitalized, there is an urgent need for careful reflection on the ethical issues raised by digitalization, informed both by an understanding of central ethical concepts and knowledge of how various technologies are deployed. This course is devoted to understanding the methods, principles, procedures, and institutions that govern the appropriate use of digital technology. Central ethical concepts addressed in the course include privacy, autonomy, nondiscrimination, transparency, responsibility, authenticity, and social justice. Central concepts form digital technology include datafication, algorithms, visualization, and access management.

The course will make central use of the “Digital Ethics Decision Aid (DEDA)” developed by the Utrecht Data School with the collaboration of the Ethics Institute. Using this tool as a guide, we will examine several pivotal cases that raise fundamental issues regarding the responsible use of digital technology, such as the unintentional discovery of confidential information in medical scans or database searches, or disputed claims to authenticity or ownership related to digital reproduction.

In addition, the field of ethics is itself subject to transformation to the extent to which a variety of digital methods are increasingly used to assist, automate, or even replace decision-making. Central here are questions regarding of the implications of Big Data processing, “smart” searchbots, automated decision supports, and techniques of data visualization for ethical judgments.

Informed by the lectures, readings, seminar discussions, and hands-on use of the DEDA, students form research teams to work jointly in developing and presenting their own ethical analyses of a concrete case. Building on the experience of a concrete analysis, students then each write a research paper on a digital ethics topic of their own choosing.

Interested M.A. students without a background in philosophy, ethics, or digital humanities may qualify to take the course; however, they should first contact the course coordinator: j.h.anderson@uu.nl.
The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coordinator. Therefore, you do not have to contact the Programme coordinator yourself.

History and Philosophy of Objectivity

What is it to be objective? Is objectivity always desirable? How can we achieve objectivity, or when should we rather avoid it? Objectivity seems to be one of the key ideals of a scientific and philosophical understanding of the world. However, it is still far from clear what exactly objectivity is, and whether it is something uniform across all domains. In this course we will investigate the notion of objectivity. We will work through Daston and Galison’s Objectivity (2007) in full, and consider selected studies on objectivity in relation to (scientific) objects, the notion of facticity, ancient epistemology, ethics and medicine, and to 19th/20th-century ideas on relativism. This way, we will build a methodologically and historically informed philosophical reflection on objectivity as an ideal within science and culture – also, we want to provide you with the conceptual and historical equipment to critically discuss Daston and Galison’s idea.

This course is for RMA students in the Graduate School of Humanities and students in the History and Philosophy of Science. Students of other MA-programmes (such as Applied Ethics), should check with the course coordinator or the RMA Philosophy coordinator (Mauro Bonazzi <m.bonazzi@uu.nl>), before enrolling, to ensure that they have the requisite philosophical background.
The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coördinator. Therefore, you do not have to contact the Programme coördinator yourself.

Topics in Metaphysics: The Logic and Metaphysics of Time

This “Topics Seminar” explores in depth issues and texts in the area of metaphysics, including questions of causation, space and time, realism, disposition, modality, physicalism, reduction, determinism, and the constitutive features of life. The specific topic will be different each time, so as to tailor it to current research developments in the field.

Topic for 2020-21: The Logic and Metaphysics of Time. We will approach this vexing topic with the help of Sebastian Rödl's Categories of the Temporal (Harvard University Press 2012), which offers not only original reflections on many of the central issues of contemporary debates on the metaphysics of time, but also a fresh look at the entire analytic philosophical tradition within which these debates are at home. The following blurb from the back of the book makes this clear:
"The publication of Frege’s Begriffsschrift in 1879 forever altered the landscape for many Western philosophers. Here, Sebastian Rödl traces how the Fregean influence, written all over the development and present state of analytic philosophy, led into an unholy alliance of an empiricist conception of sensibility with an inferentialist conception of thought. Rödl takes up the challenge by turning to Kant and Aristotle as ancestors of this tradition, and in doing so identifies its unacknowledged question: the relation of judgment and truth to time. Rödl finds in the thought of these two men the answer he urges us to consider: the temporal and the sensible, and the atemporal and the intelligible, are aspects of one reality and cannot be understood independently of one another. In demonstrating that an investigation into the categories of the temporal can be undertaken as a contribution to logic, Rödl seeks to transform simultaneously our philosophical understanding of both logic and time."

This course is for students in the RMA Philosophy programme; students from other M.A. programmes (such as History & Philosophy of Science or Applied Ethics), should check with the course coordinator or the RMA Philosophy coordinator (m.bonazzi@uu.nl), before enrolling, to ensure that they have the requisite philosophical background.
The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coördinator. Therefore, you do not have to contact the Programme coördinator yourself.

Topics in the Philosophy of Human Rights

This "Topics Seminar" explores in depth issues and texts in the area of philosophy of human rights and addresses philosophical questions regarding the existence, content, nature, universality, justification, and legal status of human rights. The specific topic will be different each time, so as to tailor it to current research developments in the field.

This year topic (2020-2021):

This year, the course will focus on a number of challenges to human rights, where human rights are understood primarily as a framework of minimal global justice:

-common challenges, such as relativism about human rights and the political abuse of human rights; and

-more novel challenges, notably with regard to (a) the acceptability of human rights as global standards given great global inequalities; (b) the extension of human rights to future people; and (c) the motivational capacities of individuals for realizing human rights.

The course will start by considering conception(s) of human rights: ideas about what human rights are, and about what legal, moral and other aspects they have. We will approach the above challenges as philosophical challenges, but they also involve other disciplines, such as political science, law, and psychology.

This year, this course will be taught by dr. Jos Philips.

We will read texts by (or sometimes about/in the wake of) such authors as James Nickel, Charles Beitz, Jack Donnelly, Stephen Hopgood, Samuel Moyn, Henry Shue, and Richard Rorty, as well as the teacher’s recent book on these topics.

This course is for students in the RMA Philosophy programme; students from other M.A. programmes (such as History & Philosophy of Science, Applied Ethics, or a legal Research Master), should check with the course coordinator or the RMA Philosophy coordinator (m.bonazzi@uu.nl), before enrolling, to ensure that they have the requisite philosophical background.
The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coördinator. Therefore, you do not have to contact the Programme coördinator yourself.

Topics in Early Modern Philosophy

This “Topics Seminar” explores in depth various texts related to a topic in the philosophy of the early modern period that includes such philosophers as Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, and Hume as well as their underappreciated contemporaries.

The specific topic and instructor(s) for the coming year will be announced in the spring.

Topic for 2020-2021:
Secularization sounds straightforward: it refers to a demise in the power of revelation and of religious practices more generally. Yet, the history of the term is contentious and multilayered. In recent scholarship, it has been useful for both defenders of religious tradition – who treat modernity as a peculiar ‘secularization’ and retainment of Christian ideals (e.g. Löwith, 1949; Taylor, 2007) – and for religious critics who treat a release from dogma and a turn to self-legislation as essential for progress and emancipation. While the term ‘secularization’ is a relatively recent one – a notion coined in mid-nineteenth century England – the discussions that surround it are not. Contemporary ‘secularization debates’ have a rich and diverse historical heritage, one that finds its expression particularly in the early modern period where arguments over the relation between religion and philosophy, ‘revelation’ and its counterpart ‘reason’, stood at the forefront of intellectual and societal debate.
The early modern period (roughly the period from 1500 to 1700) is often referred to as the most talked-about era in the history of science. The age of the ‘Scientific Revolution’ heralded a new way of thinking about the natural world, about new foundations that continue to inform modern scientific knowledge and methods (Principe, 2011). The early modern period, however, was an era of both continuity and change.

This course examines the so-called ‘theological-political problem’ in early modern philosophy: the confrontation between reason and revelation and the various epistemological, ethical and political ramifications it entails. It examines how quintessential ‘modern’ innovatores like Bacon, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Pascal, Locke, Leibniz, Hume, and Voltaire – as well as some of their lesser known contemporaries (e.g. Boyle, Arnauld, Wollstonecraft, and the Dutchmen Balling, Van Velthuysen, and Mandeville) all struggled with the question of how to vindicate God and Religion within the framework of a ‘new’ natural world.
Central topics include: the role of ‘God’ within mechanical philosophy; the debated nature of Scripture, prophecy, and prophets; the relation between theology and philosophy; the societal (ab)uses of religion; the question of toleration within pluralist societies; religion and the nature of political power.
Note: an important assumption of this course is that despite enormous technological and sociological changes, there are enduring ‘theologico-political’ problems; this assumption means that we will read and discuss historical texts from the early modern period not just to understand where we are coming from, but also as a guide to reflection on recurrent philosophical challenges. In order to facilitate this process, we will also read some important, nonetheless controversial, contemporary thinkers such as Leo Strauss and Carl Schmitt who both wrote extensively on the subject.

This course is for students in the RMA Philosophy programme; students from other M.A. programmes (such as History & Philosophy of Science or Applied Ethics), should check with the course coordinator or the RMA Philosophy coordinator (m.bonazzi@uu.nl), before enrolling, to ensure that they have the requisite philosophical background.
The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coördinator. Therefore, you do not have to contact the Programme coördinator yourself.

Topics in Epistemology and Philosophy of Science

Topic of 2020-2021:

Social epistemology is a relatively recent subdiscipline that investigates the epistemic effects of social interactions and social systems. For most of this course we will understand this as complementary and not opposed to more traditional, "individual" epistemology. Social epistemology is a very active field of research that has produced a lot of exciting publications in recent years. Part of its appeal is due to its immediate applicability to pressing societal issues like, for instance, the phenomenon of filter bubbles and echo chambers, the problem of "fake news", or the (apparent) rise of conspiracy theories in political discourse.
In this course we will first examine different ways to characterize social epistemology itself. As the course progresses, we will focus on some of the central topics in social epistemology: testimony, peer disagreement, the problem of identifying experts, epistemic injustice, group justification, and the epistemology of collective agents.
The central reading will be Alvin Goldman and Dennis Whitcomb's anthology "Social Epistemology", but we will also discuss recent publications by authors such as Miranda Fricker, Sanford Goldberg, Jennifer Lackey, or Thi Nguyen."     
This course is for students in the RMA Philosophy programme and History & Philosophy of Science; students from other M.A. programmes (such as Applied Ethics), should check with the course coordinator or the RMA Philosophy coordinator (j.h.anderson@uu.nl), before enrolling, to ensure that they have the requisite philosophical background. The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coördinator. Therefore, you do not have to contact the Programme coördinator yourself.

Topics in Hellenistic Philosophy

Topic of 2020-2021: Fate and Freedom: The Stoics and their Adversaries
One of the recurrent themes of Hellenistic philosophy is that of fate and freedom: does fate exist, i.e. is everything in the world causally determined? Is there any room for free will, for human responsibility and, if so, in exactly what sense? The great Stoic philosopher Chrysippus (3rd century BCE) developed a powerful ‘compatibilist’ theory reconciling determinism with a particular notion of free will. His theory formed the starting point of a debate between Stoics and their Epicurean, Platonist and Aristotelian opponents that helped shape their respective philosophies well into the Imperial era. In this course we will explore this debate from a variety of angles: logical and causal, cosmological and theological as well as moral and psychological. We are dealing here with a conglomerate of topics including such ethics-orientated notions as ‘what is up to us.’ This also serves to illustrate the fact that the issue was not a purely theoretical one but taken to be directly relevant to the actual conduct of our lives, i.e. the development of an ‘art of living.’ Central to this course are authors such as Chrysippus, Lucretius, Cicero, Seneca, Epictetus as well as Plotinus.

This course is for Students History and Philosophy of Science, RMA Philosophy. Students of other MA-programmes, please contact the Course Coordinator.

The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coördinator. Therefore, you do not have to contact the Programme coördinator yourself.

Topics in Moral Psychology

This “Topics Seminar” explores in depth issues and texts in the area of moral psychology, understood to include issues in philosophical psychology, action theory, philosophical anthropology, theories of the emotion, subjectivity, and motivation. The specific topic will be different each time, so as to tailor it to current research developments in the field.

The Topic of 20-21: Moral Responsibility and Self-Knowledge

Moral psychology is the study, first, of how moral choices are made and moral conduct performed, and secondly, of the conditions of human beings that make them responsible moral agents. One such condition pertains to having self-knowledge. In class, we will start with an introduction of the field of moral psychology and its different approaches, e.g., empirical and non-empirical approaches. Next, we will discuss the relation between self-knowledge and responsibility by using specific topics and examples. For instance:

1. Should the agent see her own action in light of what makes it morally praiseworthy in order for it to be praiseworthy? The widely discussed case of Huckleberry Finn will serve as a framework to approach this question.
2. Is an agent responsible for actions influenced by automatic responses or by things of which she was unaware? The framework used to approach this question is implicit bias.
3. If self-knowledge is a condition of moral responsibility, do we have a duty to seek self-knowledge, e.g., by reflection, literature or using self-help-technology?

Literature used will range from ancient philosopher Aristotle to contemporary philosopher Nomy Arpaly , and from anti-psychologistic philosopher G.E.M. Anscombe to the psychologist Timothy Wilson.

This course is for Students History and Philosophy of Science, RMA Philosophy. Students of other MA-programmes, please contact the Course Coordinator.

The entrance requirements for Exchange Students will be checked by International Office and the Programme coördinator. Therefore, you do not have to contact the Programme coördinator yourself.

Topics seminars

Students complete at least four “Topics seminars”. The courses are offered biannually on an alternating basis.

The following courses, offered in even-numbered years:

Study period 1

  • Topics in Metaphysics
  • Topics in the Philosophy of Human Rights
  • Topics in Early Modern Philosophy

Study period 2

  • Topics in Epistemology and Philosophy of Science
  • Topics in Hellenistic Philosophy
  • Topics in Moral Psychology

The following courses, offered in uneven-numbered years:

Study period 1

  • Topics in  Philosophy of Plato and Aristotle
  • Topics in Philosophy of Language and Logic
  • Topics in Social and Political Philosophy

Study period 2

  • Topics in Ethical Theory
  • Topics in German Idealism
  • Topics in Philosophy of Mind