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180074 PS Free Will and Moral Responsibility (2018S)

4.00 ECTS (2.00 SWS), SPL 18 - Philosophie
Continuous assessment of course work

Die letzte Lehrveranstaltung (LV) in der Version BA Philosophie 2011 wurde hierzu im Sommersemester 2017 abgehalten.
Sollten Sie noch immer die LV für die BA-Philosophie-Version 2011 absolvieren - und sich nicht unter den neuen Studienplan (Version 2017) unterstellen lassen wollen (https://ssc-phil.univie.ac.at/studienorganisation/unterstellungen/bachelor-philosophie-von-2011-auf-2017/), so können Sie noch bis Sommersemester 2020 diese Äquivalenz-LV aus dem neuen Studienplan für die Version 2011 auf Basis der je aktuellen, äquivalenten LV ablegen. Eigene LVen für die Version 2011 können nicht mehr angeboten werden.
Bei der Anmeldung zur LV achten Sie bitte unbedingt darauf, dass Ihre Anmeldung über die für Sie gültige Version erfolgt (!).
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max. 45 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Please be aware there will be no classes on Tuesday 5th June or Tuesday 26th June.

Tuesday 06.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 13.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 20.03. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 10.04. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 17.04. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 24.04. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 08.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 15.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 29.05. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 05.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 12.06. 09:45 - 11:15 Hörsaal 3C, NIG Universitätsstraße 7/Stg. II/3. Stock, 1010 Wien
Tuesday 12.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 19.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock
Tuesday 26.06. 15:00 - 16:30 Hörsaal 2i NIG 2.Stock


Aims, contents and method of the course

Contents: The problem of free will (that is, the question of whether our actions are free) is one of the hardest in philosophy. One reason why it is so hard is that it has implications for whether we can be held responsible for our actions. One would think that we can only be held responsible for our actions if they are freely chosen; one can hardly be held responsible for something one was compelled to do. In this course we will look at the three main views about freedom of the will—libertarianism, compatibilism and ‘hard’ compatibilism—and their consequences for moral responsibility. As we will see, all of these views have, in one way or another, difficulties making sense of the idea that we can be held responsible for the things that we do. We will also look at a range of other related issues including whether it makes sense to blame people for their actions if their actions are not free, the nature of blame itself, manipulation, and hypocrisy.

Aims: By the end of the course students will have acquired and developed:

1. An understanding of debates about freedom of the will, moral responsibility, and how they are related.
2. An appreciation of the complexity and importance of these debates.
3. A range of valuable skills and abilities (how to evaluate an argument; how to construct a valid argument; how to read a complicated text).
4. The ability to express complex philosophical ideas and views, with an emphasis on clarity, structure, precision, concision and dialectical effectiveness.
5. A range of transferable skills, including the skills mentioned above, but also the ability to work to a deadline, prepare a group presentation and conduct one’s own research (e.g. find and consult a range of primary sources).

Methods: Each seminar will be based on a text, which will be read in advance. I will also assign 1 or 2 ‘additional readings’ for each class. The seminar will begin with a short presentation by a small group of students. If necessary, I will provide some broader context for our discussion. Otherwise, the remaining time will be used to discuss the substantive philosophical issues raised by the text. After each session I will circulate a short document summarising the key points and arguments in the text we have discussed and highlighting any important issues arising from our discussion.

Assessment and permitted materials

The course will be assessed via three methods: a group presentation, 2 ‘short answers’ and an essay. While the presentation will not be assessed, students will meet with me beforehand to discuss and plan their presentations and I will provide constructive feedback on aspects of their presentation after it has taken place. The idea behind the short answers is to help improve the students’ ability to express themselves in a clear and concise manner. I will offer feedback on both the content and on matters of structure and style; the aim is to help the students prepare for writing their essay. In the class I will provide advice about writing the essay. While I will provide a list of possible topics for the essay, students will be encouraged to suggest their own topics.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

This course will use three methods of assessment, each of which will count towards the final grade:

1. Participation in a group presentation: 10%.
2. 2 ‘short answers’ (max. 2 pages): 40%
3. An essay on a topic from the course (15-20 pages, with 1.5 spacing): 50%.

To pass the course, it will be necessary to satisfy all three components (i.e. submit all the work and participate in a presentation) and achieve 50% or more overall. The group presentation will not be assessed; participation in a presentation is sufficient to get full marks for this component. I will meet with students prior to class to discuss their presentations. The ‘short answers’ will be answers to comprehension questions about material we have discussed in class. A good short answer will give a clear and concise answer to the relevant question. The essay will be written at the end of the course. It could focus on a particular text, draw connections between different texts, or discuss a general issue raised by the texts we have read. A good essay will demonstrate a sound understanding of the relevant material and place it in its broader context. An excellent essay will also demonstrate an ability to develop a sustained line of independent thought. Beyond the minimum requirement of comprehensibility, linguistic issues (grammar, spelling) will not be taken into account.

Examination topics

While I will provide a list of possible topics for both the short answers and the longer essay, students will be encouraged to suggest their own topics for the longer essay.

Reading list

Here is a tentative schedule. Additional readings will be chosen in advance and posted on Moodle, along with the core texts.

Week 1 Introduction
No reading.

Week 2 Compatibilism
Harry Frankfurt, “Alternative Possibilities and Moral Responsibility”.

Week 3 Compatibilism
John Martin Fischer, “Compatibilism”. In Four Views on Free Will (Ch. 2).

Week 4 Libertarianism
Roderick Chisholm, “Human Freedom and the Self”.

Week 5 Libertarianism
Robert Kane, “Libertarianism”. In Four Views on Free Will (Ch. 1).

Week 6 Hard Incompatibilism
Galen Strawson, “The Impossibility of Moral Responsibility”.

Week 7 Hard Incompatibilism
Derek Pereboom, “Hard Incompatibilism”. In Four Views on Free Will (Ch. 3).

Week 8 Strawson and Reactive Attitudes
P.F. Strawson, “Freedom and Resentment”

Week 9 Strawson and Reactive Attitudes
Gary Watson, “Responsibility and the Limits of Evil”

Week 10 Manipulation
Katherin Rogers, “The Divine Controller Argument for Incompatibilism”

Week 11 Blame
Pamela Hieronymi, “The Force and Fairness of Blame”.

Week 12 Blame
Miranda Fricker, “What’s the Point of Blame? A Paradigm Based Explanation”.

Week 13 Hypocrisy
R.J. Wallace, “Hypocrisy, Moral Address, and the Equal Standing of Persons”.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Mo 07.09.2020 15:36