Introduction to Philosophy
list 5 sequences
assignment Level : Introductive
chat_bubble_outline Language : English
language Subtitles : Chinese, Vietnamese, Dutch, Turkish, Hebrew, Spanish, Romanian
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About the content

This course will introduce you to some of the main areas of research in contemporary philosophy. Each module a different philosopher will talk you through some of the most important questions and issues in their area of expertise. We’ll begin by trying to understand what philosophy is – what are its characteristic aims and methods, and how does it differ from other subjects? Then we’ll spend the rest of the course gaining an introductory overview of several different areas of philosophy. Topics you’ll learn about will include: Epistemology, where we’ll consider what our knowledge of the world and ourselves consists in, and how we come to have it; Philosophy of science, where we’ll investigate foundational conceptual issues in scientific research and practice; Philosophy of Mind, where we’ll ask questions about what it means for something to have a mind, and how minds should be understood and explained; Political Philosophy, where we'll investigate whether we have an obligation to obey the law; Moral Philosophy, where we’ll attempt to understand the nature of our moral judgements and reactions – whether they aim at some objective moral truth, or are mere personal or cultural preferences, and; Metaphysics, where we’ll think through some fundamental conceptual questions about free will and the nature of reality. The development of this MOOC has been led by the University of Edinburgh's Eidyn research centre. To accompany 'Introduction to Philosophy', we are pleased to announce a tie-in book from Routledge entitled 'Philosophy for Everyone'. This course companion to the 'Introduction to Philosophy' course was written by the Edinburgh Philosophy team expressly with the needs of MOOC students in mind. 'Philosophy for Everyone' contains clear and user-friendly chapters, chapter summaries, glossary, study questions, suggestions for further reading and guides to online resources. Please click "Start Here" and navigate to the "Optional Reading" page for more information.

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Syllabus

  • Week 1 - What is Philosophy?
    (Dr. Dave Ward) We’ll start the course by thinking about what Philosophy actually is: what makes it different from other subjects? What are its distinctive aims and methods? We'll also think about why the questions that philosophers attempt to answer are often...
  • Week 2 - Morality: Objective, Relative or Emotive?
    (Dr. Matthew Chrisman) We all live with some sense of what is good or bad, some feelings about which ways of conducting ourselves are better or worse. But what is the status of these moral beliefs, senses, or feelings? Should we think of them as reflecting har...
  • Week 2 - What is Knowledge? And Do We Have Any?
    (Professor Duncan Pritchard) We know a lot of things – or, at least, we think we do. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that studies knowledge; what it is, and the ways we can come to have it. In this module, we’ll take a tour through some of the issues ...
  • Week 2 - Week 2 review
     
  • Week 3 - Do We Have an Obligation to Obey the Law?
    (Dr. Guy Fletcher) The laws of a state govern what we can and cannot do within that state. But do we have an obligation to obey those laws? In this module, we'll discuss this question, together with some of the main positions that philosophers have developed i...
  • Week 3 - Should You Believe What You Hear?
    (Dr. Allan Hazlett) Much of what we think about the world we believe on the basis of what other people say. But is this trust in other people's testimony justified? In this module, we’ll investigate how this question was addressed by two great philosophers of ...
  • Week 3 - Week 3 review
     
  • Week 4 - Minds, Brains and Computers
    (Dr. Suilin Lavelle) If you’re reading this, then you’ve got a mind. But what is a mind, and what does it take to have one? Should we understand minds as sets of dispositions to behave in certain ways, as patterns of neural activation, or as akin to programmes...
  • Week 4 - Are Scientific Theories True?
    (Professor Michela Massimi) In this module we will explore a central and ongoing debate in contemporary philosophy of science: whether or not scientific theories are true. Or better, whether a scientific theory needs to be 'true' to be good at all. The answer ...
  • Week 4 - Week 4 review
     
  • Week 5 - Do We Have Free Will and Does It Matter?
    (Dr. Elinor Mason) We typically feel that the actions that we make are the result of our own free choices. But what if those actions are simply the end result of a long chain of cause and effect? What does this mean for free will? In this module, we'll look at...
  • Week 5 - Time Travel and Philosophy
    (Dr. Alasdair Richmond) In this module we'll think about some issues in metaphysics, a branch of philosophy that investigates the ways that reality could intelligibly be. Our case study will be the possibility, or otherwise, of time-travel. Some have thought t...
  • Week 5 - Week 5 review
     
  • Week 5 - Peer review
     
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Instructors

Dr. Alasdair Richmond
Dr.
Philosophy

Dr. Suilin Lavelle
Lecturer in Philosophy
University of Edinburgh

Guy Fletcher
Lecturer
Philosophy

Dr. Dave Ward
Lecturer in Philosophy
University of Edinburgh

Elinor Mason
Senior Lecturer
Philosophy

Professor Michela Massimi
Full Professor
Philosophy

Dr. Allan Hazlett

Professor Duncan Pritchard
Professor of Philosophy
University of Edinburgh

Dr. Matthew Chrisman
Reader in Philosophy
Philosophy

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