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Durham University

Postgraduate Module Handbook 2020/2021

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2017-18. The current handbook year is 2020-21

Department: Philosophy

PHIL42130: ENVIRONMENTAL PHILOSOPHY

Type Open Level 4 Credits 30 Availability Available in 2017/18

Prerequisites

  • Undergraduate training in philosophy or, at the discretion of the module leader, other relevant evidence.

Corequisites

  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None

Aims

  • To help students to:
  • identify key philosophical questions raised by environmental issues
  • understand and critically assess the ways others have addressed those questions
  • understand and critically assess the answers others have provided
  • formulate, communicate and defend their own answers to the relevant questions

Content

  • The module’s seven seminars will address some of the following questions:
  • 1. What are the proper aims of environmental philosophy?
  • 2. Do we have direct moral duties to any nonhuman sentient beings?
  • 3. Are biocentrists right to claim that we can have such duties to non-sentient organisms such as plants?
  • 4. Are we morally obliged to preserve endangered species? If so, why?
  • 5. What moral duties, if any, can we have to ecosystems and other environmental wholes? What sorts of values can such wholes have?
  • 6. What, if anything, can environmental ethicists learn from the tradition of virtue ethics?
  • 7. Is ecologism a viable political ideology?
  • 8. What philosophical issues are raised by environmental science?
  • 9. What is wilderness? What moral and political questions are raised by claims that it ought to be preserved?
  • 10. What can be said for or against the use of phenomenological approaches in environmental philosophy?
  • 11. What does it mean to say that something is natural? Is naturalness, in any of its various senses, a value-adding property?
  • 12. What epistemic and moral issues are raised by anthropogenic climate change?

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students should be familiar with:
  • key philosophical questions raised by environmental issues
  • the ways others have addressed those questions and the answers they have provided
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students should be able to:
  • Identify key philosophical questions raised by environmental issues
  • Critically assess the ways others have addressed those questions and the answers they have provided
  • Formulate, communicate and defend their own answers to those questions
Key Skills:
  • By the end of the module students should be able to:
  • Clearly articulate and defend their views, both orally and on paper
  • Manage their time effectively
  • Use their own initiative to choose an essay topic
  • Exercise self-discipline, responsibility and autonomy in writing an essay

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • This module will be taught in 7 two-hour seminars. In addition to this, each student will be entitled to 2 hours’ supervision on the topic of their summative essay. This supervision will involve discussion of the chosen essay topic, guidance on relevant literature, development of an essay plan, and feedback on essay drafts.
  • Each seminar will include a short introduction to the topic by the seminar leader, one or more student presentations, and a structured discussion guided by the seminar leader.
  • To assess the skills listed above, students will be required to write a summative essay.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials up to 2 flexible 1 hour 2
Seminars 7 fortnightly 2 hours 14
Preparation and Reading Time 284
Total 300

Summative Assessment

Component: Essay Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 5,000 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

An essay of 2,000 words


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University