No previous experience in the subject is necessary. The Certificate in Philosophy I will introduce some central topics in three areas – metaphysics, logic and the philosophy of language, and ethics. As a student on the Certificate in Philosophy I, you will develop your ability to think carefully and rigorously about the questions raised, and the answers which have been proposed.
What will I be studying?
The programme is arranged into three complementary termly units which build participants’ knowledge and understanding of some important philosophical problems.
The termly units are taught through a regular Monday evening teaching session and a number of Saturday schools per term.
Unit 1: Metaphysics
Monday evenings from 3rd October to 5 December 2016 (7.15 - 9.15pm)
Saturday day schools: 29th October and 3rd December 2016
In this unit we will address philosophical problems concerning time, space, possibility, and the relations between objects and their properties. We’ll consider questions such as: Is there a metaphysical difference between us and past people? What does it mean to say that times change from being future to being past? What makes you the same person today as you were yesterday? Are there things which exist but are not part of the actual world? Are persons and other objects simply collections of their traits and characteristics? Or are there also underlying substances to which these traits and characteristics are attached? What is space? Is it a real thing in its own right? Does anything exist which is not in space and time?
Unit 2: Introduction to logic and the philosophy of language
Monday evenings from 9th January to 13 March 2017 (7.15 – 9.15pm)
Saturday day schools: 4th February and 4th March 2017
When deciding whether an argument is good or bad, one thing we want to know is whether its conclusion follows from its premises. Formal logic is a language within which we can formulate arguments clearly and test whether they are valid or invalid. It also provides a system which can enable us to unpack the structure of the claims we make in order to clarify what we are saying. In this unit you will learn how to translate sentences and arguments into and from formal logic. At the same time, we will consider the philosophical issues raised by our formal language. Are there elements of natural language which formal translations cannot capture? How do sentences get their meanings? Are there any sentences which are neither true nor false?
Unit 3: Ethics
Monday evenings from 24th April to 26th June 2017 (7.15 – 9.15pm). No class on 1st May, 29th May or 19th June 2017.
Saturday day schools: 6 May, 20 May and 24 June 2017
This unit will introduce you to two key areas within ethics: normative ethics and meta-ethics. We begin by considering what goods our ethical theories should promote. Pleasure? Happiness? Friendship? Justice? We will ask whether there are principles which determine what it is right to do, and, if so, what they are. Should we be aiming to maximise the good for everyone? Or to act in our own best interests? And how should such principles guide our actions? If giving to others is good, is giving more to others better? Is it legitimate to prefer some people over others when deciding whom to help? We will also explore some debates concerning the interpretation and evaluation of moral claims. Can moral beliefs be true? Should ‘It is wrong to hurt others needlessly’ be taken as a statement, a prescription telling others how to act, an expression of disapproval, or something else?
What can I go on to do?
Credit awarded by the Institute may also be transferred into the degree programmes of other higher education providers. However the volume of credit and the curriculum which can be transferred into degree programmes varies from institution to institution and is always at the discretion of the receiving institution.