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2021/22 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

LISS1035 Philosophy of Mind and Ethics: Dilemmas and Thought Experiments

10 creditsClass Size: 30

Module manager: Dr Alison Toop

Taught: 1 Jul to 31 Aug View Timetable

Year running 2021/22

Pre-requisite qualifications

GPA of 2.8 (US) or equivalent and enrolled at a university

Module replaces


This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

The first week of the module will look at thought experiments (that is, fictional scenarios which are designed to test ordinary beliefs and concepts), particularly as they arise in contemporary philosophy of mind. It will explore the ways in which these experiments are used to reach substantive conclusions about the nature of the mind (e.g. that it is non-physical), and whether in fact they are capable of doing so. The week will include reflections on the nature of perception, comparing and contrasting ordinary perception, where there is no evident intermediary between perceiver and object perceived, and mediated perception where devices such as mirrors, telescopes, cameras, or films are employed. This topic will be linked to a field trip to the Media Museum in Bradford.The second week will look at practical ethical dilemmas, using a mixture of thought experiments and actual medical cases and techniques, such as organ donation, and euthanasia. Students will be invited to reflect on the abstract principles underlying moral decision–making.


This module aims to introduce students to some key issues and methods in contemporary analytic philosophy of mind and applied ethics; it will also provide a forum in which students can develop their capacity to engage in discussion and argument, using the techniques of analytic philosophy.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module, students will
• have become acquainted with key issues in contemporary philosophy of mind and applied ethics
• be able to see connections between abstract philosophical and ethical principles and matters of contemporary concern
• have greater confidence in engaging in independent discussion and argument
• be able to present concisely both the central issues and their own views, orally and in writing

Skills outcomes
Knowledge of philosophical issues in mind and applied ethics; capacity to analyse and construct philosophical arguments


Topics may include all or some of the following:
Philosophy of Mind: consciousness and the physical, artificial intelligence, the extended mind hypothesis, immediate and mediated perception: illusions and sense data
Ethics: The Trolley Problem, organ donation, abortion, euthanasia

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Independent online learning hours15.00
Private study hours43.00
Total Contact hours42.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)100.00

Private study

15 hours pre-course preparatory work: this will include reading, exercises, answers to questions for first seminar
Reading and preparing answers to class questions during course: 32
Reflection and notes on field trip: 3
Essay preparation and writing: 8

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Formative feedback will be provided through class discussion.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
PresentationSmall group presentation (15 minutes)40.00
Essay1000 words60.00
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 16:24:23


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