PHIL 2032 - Naturalising Morality: Evolution, Ethics & Meaning
North Terrace Campus - Semester 2 - 2019
General Course Information
Course Code PHIL 2032 Course Naturalising Morality: Evolution, Ethics & Meaning Coordinating Unit Philosophy Term Semester 2 Level Undergraduate Location/s North Terrace Campus Units 3 Contact Up to 3 hours per week Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y Prerequisites At least 12 units of Level I undergraduate study Incompatible PHIL 2005 or PHIL 3005 Course Description Modern science gives us a stark way of understanding human nature and the place of human beings in the natural world. We are animals who have evolved to be as we are through natural processes. We live in a world that is not structured for our benefit. And yet, despite this scientific world view, we strive to find meaning and purpose in life. We judge some forms of behaviour right while others are wrong. We think some things really matter. This course considers whether these two perspectives can be reconciled: Is there a naturalistic foundation for ethics, values and even the meaningfulness of life?
This course will explore this question by examining evolutionary psychology, the cognitive science of human emotions, and the so-called "new science of morality". In doing so it will confront contentious debates such as the respective roles of genes and culture in making us the way we are, whether it is appropriate to employ new technologies to engineer human happiness, and whether moral responsibility can survive the encroachments of neuroscience.
Course Coordinator: Honorary Professor Gerard O'Brien
The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.
Course Learning Outcomes
This course aims to
- Introduce students to central problems in the project of naturalising morality,
- Develop an understanding of related topics in moral prhilosophy, cognitive science, evolutionary psychology and neuroscience
After successfully completing this course, students should:
- Be aware of the main philosophical positions regarding the project of naturalising morality
- Have experience in analyzing and critiquing written arguments.
- Show improvement in problem solving and critical reasoning skills.
- Be able to discuss and debate philosophical issues in a group setting.
University Graduate Attributes
This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:
University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s) Deep discipline knowledge
- informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
- acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
- accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
1, 2, 3 Critical thinking and problem solving
- steeped in research methods and rigor
- based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
- demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 Teamwork and communication skills
- developed from, with, and via the SGDE
- honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
- encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
4, 5, 6 Career and leadership readiness
- technology savvy
- professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
- forward thinking and well informed
- tested and validated by work based experiences
4, 5, 6 Intercultural and ethical competency
- adept at operating in other cultures
- comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
- able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
- demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
4, 5, 6 Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
- a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
- open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
- able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
4, 5, 6
Worhshop readings and questions will be made available on MyUni the week proceeding the workshop.
The workshop will be recorded and will be available on MyUni immediately after the workshop.
Flanagan, O. (2002) The Problem of the Soul (New York, Basic Books)
Haidt, J. (2012) The Righteous Mind (Pantheon)
Harris, S. (2010) The Moral Landscape (New York, Free Press)
Thagard, P. (2010) The Brain and the Meaning of Life. (Princeton University Press)
Tiberius, V. (2014) Moral Psychology: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge)
Lecture notes will be made available on MyUni each week, and the lectures will be recorded. To prepare for workshops, you are required to answer a set of workshop questions. These will be made available on MyUni in the week preceding the workshop.
Learning & Teaching Activities
Learning & Teaching ModesThs course will be taught each week by a two hour lecture and a one hour workshop.
The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
The information below is a guide to the average number of hours per week you should spend on this course. The total is (12 weeks x 12 hours per week) = 144 hours over the whole semester.
1 x 2 hour lecture per week
1 x 1 hour workshop per week
3 hours revision per week
3 hours tutorial preparation per week
3 hours assessment work (essay and exam preparation)
Total per week
Learning Activities Summary
No information currently available.
The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:
- Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
- Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
- Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
- Assessment must maintain academic standards.
This course is assessed by 2 x 2500 word essays, each worth 50% of the final mark.
Assessment DetailThe first essay will be due approximately half way through the semester and the essay questions will be drawn from topics in the first half of the course.
The second essay will be due at the end of the semester and the essay questions will be drawn from topics in the second half of the course.
SubmissionThe essays will be submitted electronically via MyUni. Details of the submission process will be provided with the essay questions.
Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:
M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme) Grade Mark Description FNS Fail No Submission F 1-49 Fail P 50-64 Pass C 65-74 Credit D 75-84 Distinction HD 85-100 High Distinction CN Continuing NFE No Formal Examination RP Result Pending
Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.
Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.
Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.
The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.
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