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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHIL3321 Metaethics

20 creditsClass Size: 136

Module manager: Dr Darren Bradley

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

40 credits of L2 Modules (No specific L2 module required)

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module aims to introduce students to some of the major metaethcial theories, issues, and debates of the 20th century and assist them in developing their philosophical and analytic skills. At the most basic level, we might say that metaethics concerns whether moral realism or some such rival as expressivism or error theory is true. In this area, philosophers address such "metaethical" questions as these: - What do moral terms like "good" and "morally right" and judgements using them mean? - Do moral terms and judgements express moral properties, and if so, what are these properties like? - Are any moral judgements true, and if so, are they true objectively, in virtue of moral properties that exist in the world? - If there are objective moral truths, how can we know what they are? - What implications do theories of practical reason and human motivation have for the question whether there are objective truths in ethics?


On completion of this module, students should be able to:

1. show a good understanding of central concepts, issues, and positions in metaethics
2. interpret and critically analyse arguments on metaethical topics and develop their own position in relation to these issues
3. express these philosophical and analytical skills in a written essay.


Topics to be covered may typically include:
- Meaning, truth and knowledge in ethics
- The nature of moral judgement
- The nature of normativity
- Non-cognitivism, cognitivism, eliminativism, projectivism
- Realism, anti-realism, skepticism and antiskepticism
- Relativism and antirelativism
- Moral psychology

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Interactive Lecture181.0018.00
Private study hours173.00
Total Contact hours27.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Interactive lecture and Seminar preparation: 63 hours
- Essay preparation: 60 hours
- Associated reading: 50 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

1000 word essay draft

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3000 words (end of module)100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 30/06/2021 14:25:34


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