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Unit information: Realism and Normativity in 2015/16

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Unit name Realism and Normativity
Unit code PHIL20046
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Everett
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit is designed to cover a series of centrally important philosophical issues, positions, and strategies, which in one way or another will often be presupposed by all the other philosophy you study. The unit itself has two components, one concerned with metaphysics and logic, the other with value theory. The material covered in the normativity component will provide a good source of examples and case-studies for some of the issues considered in the proceeding realism component.

Realism: This part of the unit will cover a variety of key topics and issues within metaphysics and logic. In particular, we will consider the nature of truth, we will consider various forms of anti-realism and how we should understand the realism/anti-realism debate. We will conclude by considering the Wittgensteinian rule-following consideration.

Normativity: This part of the course will provide an introduction to metaethics. In particular, we shall be concerned with the nature and status of moral claims, the relation between motivation and moral judgements, and moral psychology.

Intended learning outcomes

Students will be able to apply the theoretical approaches developed in this unit to novel problems and to the subject matter of their other units. They will be prepared for their final year options which will be able to draw upon greater and more uniform common background knowledge among joint and single honours philosophy students. Students will have a greater awareness of the unity beneath the diversity of philosophical debates, and of the partial nature of disciplinary boundaries (say that between ethics and epistemology).

Teaching details

Two Lectures and one Seminar each week.

Assessment Details


2 x 2000-2500 word essays


Three hour unseen examination

Reading and References

S. Blackburn: Spreading the Word

D. Papineau: Philosophical Naturalism

M. Devitt: Realism and Truth

E. Millgram (ed.): Varieties of Practical Reasoning