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PHIL234 Contemporary Metaethics

Introduces main themes and issues in twentieth century and contemporary analytic metaethics: ethical naturalism and the open-question argument; emotivism; quasi-realism; norm-expressivism; error-theories; internalism in moral psychology; non-naturalist moral realism.

This paper provides an in-depth introduction to one of the most vibrant and fast-growing areas of contemporary philosophy. Topics covered will include G.E. Moore on ethical naturalism and the open-question argument; A. J. Ayer's emotivism; Simon Blackburn's quasi-realism; Allan Gibbard's norm-expressivism; John Mackie's "error-theory" of morality; internalism and externalism about moral psychology; and contemporary naturalist moral realism.

Paper title Contemporary Metaethics
Paper code PHIL234
Subject Philosophy
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2017
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $851.85
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,585.00

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Prerequisite
One PHIL paper or POLS 101 or 72 points
Restriction
PHIL 315
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Eligibility
This paper will particularly appeal to students with interests in ethical theory, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language or metaphysics.
Contact
alex.miller@otago.ac.nz
Teaching staff
Convenor and Lecturer: Professor Alex Miller
Seminar Leader: To be advised
Paper Structure
In the lectures we will introduce some of the main topics discussed in 20th-century and contemporary metaethics, including:
  • G.E. Moore's "Open Question" argument against ethical naturalism and his own brand of ethical non-naturalism
  • A. J. Ayer's emotivist account of moral judgement
  • Simon Blackburn's development of emotivism into his "Quasi-Realism"
  • Allan Gibbard's "norm-expressivist" account of moral judgement
  • J. L. Mackie's "argument from queerness" and error theory of moral judgement
  • Internalist and externalist accounts of the relationship between moral judgement and motivation
  • Nonreductive naturalist versions of moral realism
The seminars will complement the lectures; in particular, we will discuss a number of the primary texts discussed in the lectures. These are all available in Fisher and Kirchin (eds.) Arguing About Metaethics (details below).

Assessment:
  • Final 3-hour exam 70%
  • Two 2,500-word essays 15% each
Teaching Arrangements
2-hour weekly lecture

2-hour weekly seminar
Textbooks
Alexander Miller Contemporary Metaethics: An Introduction (Cambridge, Polity Press 2013).

Andrew Fisher and Simon Kirchin (eds.) Arguing About Metaethics (London: Routledge 2006).
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper will acquire
  • The ability to make philosophical analyses and to present and assess philosophical arguments to an acceptable standard
  • A broad awareness and grasp of what is at issue in general metaethical debates
  • A demonstrated ability to explain and assess philosophical positions and arguments in their own words

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Timetable

Not offered in 2017

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system
Blackboard

Are there objective moral facts, or should we embrace moral nihilism or moral relativism? Examination of classic answers to this question developed in 20th- and 21st-century philosophy.

This paper provides an in-depth introduction to one of the most vibrant and fast-growing areas of contemporary philosophy. Topics covered will include G.E. Moore on ethical naturalism and the open-question argument; A. J. Ayer's emotivism; Simon Blackburn's quasi-realism; Allan Gibbard's norm-expressivism; John Mackie's "error-theory" of morality; internalism and externalism about moral psychology; and contemporary naturalist moral realism.

Paper title Are There Moral Facts?
Paper code PHIL234
Subject Philosophy
EFTS 0.1500
Points 18 points
Teaching period First Semester
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $868.95
International Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,656.70

^ Top of page

Prerequisite
One PHIL paper or POLS 101 or 72 points
Restriction
PHIL 315
Schedule C
Arts and Music
Paper Structure
In the lectures we will introduce some of the main topics discussed in 20th-century and contemporary metaethics, including:
  • G.E. Moore's Open Question argument against ethical naturalism and his own brand of ethical non-naturalism
  • A. J. Ayer's emotivist account of moral judgement
  • Simon Blackburn's development of emotivism into his Quasi-Realism
  • Allan Gibbard's norm-expressivist account of moral judgement
  • J. L. Mackie's argument from queerness and error theory of moral judgement
  • Internalist and externalist accounts of the relationship between moral judgement and motivation
  • Nonreductive naturalist versions of moral realism
The seminars will complement the lectures; in particular, we will discuss a number of the primary texts discussed in the lectures. These are all available in Fisher and Kirchin (eds.) Arguing About Metaethics (details below).

Assessment:
  • Final 3-hour exam 70%
  • Two 2,500-word essays 15% each
Learning Outcomes
Students who successfully complete the paper will acquire
  • The ability to make philosophical analyses and to present and assess philosophical arguments to an acceptable standard
  • A broad awareness and grasp of what is at issue in general metaethical debates
  • A demonstrated ability to explain and assess philosophical positions and arguments in their own words
Eligibility
This paper will particularly appeal to students with interests in ethical theory, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language or metaphysics.
Contact
alex.miller@otago.ac.nz
Teaching staff
Convenor and Lecturer: Professor Alex Miller
Seminar Leader: Professor Alex Miller
Teaching Arrangements
2-hour weekly lecture

2-hour weekly seminar
Textbooks
Alexander Miller Contemporary Metaethics: An Introduction (Cambridge, Polity Press 2013).

Andrew Fisher and Simon Kirchin (eds.) Arguing About Metaethics (London: Routledge 2006).
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Ethics, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.

^ Top of page

Timetable

First Semester

Location
Dunedin
Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system
Blackboard

Lecture

Stream Days Times Weeks
Attend
L1 Tuesday 15:00-16:50 9-13, 15-22
Friday 14:00-14:50 9-12, 15-22