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Unit information: Paradoxes in 2015/16

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Unit name Paradoxes
Unit code PHIL10028
Credit points 10
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Patrick
Open unit status Open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts


The aim of this course is to examine and critically investigate a variety of paradoxes, some well-known and others less so, from a philosophical point of view. The aim is to raise awareness of the underlying factors determining these paradoxes, such as various theorems in mathematics, logic, economics, and philosophically important results of other kinds.

Amongst others, the unit will examine the following: The Liar Paradox (This sentence is false), Russell's Paradox (The set of all sets that are not members of themselves), The Paradox of the Heap, Zeno's paradoxes, The Prisoner's Dilemma, Various moral paradoxes.

Intended learning outcomes

On completion of the course students will:

(1) have a thorough understanding of a series of important philosophical paradoxes and the standard proposed solutions to these, (2) be able to critically evaluate these solutions, (3) have a thorough understanding of what philosophical (and more general) lessons we can learn from these paradoxes, (4) be in a position to relate the key ideas discussed to a range of important philosophical debates.

Teaching details

10 one-hour lectures

Assessment Details

One 2000-3000 word essay, from a list of questions designed to test intended learning outcomes (1), (2), (3) and (4).

Reading and References

Mark Sainsbury "Paradoxes" CUP 2009 Saul Smilansky "Ten moral paradoxes" Blackwell 2007