The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 17 January 2022
Friday 25 March 2022
29 September 2021


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA V500 Philosophy,
BA V501 Philosophy (Including Year Abroad),
BA V502 Philosophy (Including Foundation Year),
BA V503 Philosophy (including Placement Year),
BA V508 Philosophy (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
MPHIV599 Philosophy,
MPHIVA98 Philosophy (Including Placement Year),
MPHIVA99 Philosophy (Including Year Abroad),
BA V5M8 Philosophy with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year),
BA V5M9 Philosophy with Human Rights,
BA V5MX Philosophy with Human Rights (Including Year Abroad),
BA V6M9 Philosophy with Human Rights (Including Placement Year),
BA VLM8 Philosophy with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA VV56 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics,
BA VV57 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Placement Year),
BA VV58 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Foundation Year),
BA VV59 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA VV5P Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Year Abroad),
BA VV20 Philosophy with Business Management,
BA VV21 Philosophy with Business Management (Including Foundation Year),
BA VV22 Philosophy with Business Management (Including Placement Year),
BA VV23 Philosophy with Business Management (Including Year Abroad)

Module description

This module investigates one of the most influential modern theories of ethics, Kant's moral philosophy. While students may have had the chance to study some aspects of Kant's view before, this term will be devoted to examining its details and considering the most important criticisms lodged against it.

We will look at the philosophy of action and view of freedom that underpins the Kant's ethical outlook; at how he conceives of moral requirements; and at his strategies of justification as well as at the key objections to the Kantian ethical project from different critics. The main focus will be on a close reading of the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals [1785], but other texts by Kant will also be considered. We will also use his work as a springboard to discuss wider issues in ethics, like moral luck and feminist ethics of care.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

1. To introduce students to main problems of contemporary metaethics
2. To analyse the differences and connections between metaethics, normative ethics and other registers of moral thinking
3. To familiarise students with the main theories of metaethics, and to analyse their strenghts and weaknesses
4. To introduce students to the work of contemporary moral philosophers
5. To analyse the connections between metaethics and other areas of philosophy (such as epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language and moral psychology)
6. To evaluate the prospects and limits of metaethics as a mode of moral thinking
7. To assess the extent to which metaethics can account for certain crucial aspects of moral experience

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module the student should have:

1. to summarise in their own words and critically assess the principal theories and philosophical perspectives examined in this course;
2. To relate different philosophical theories and arguments to contemporary discussions in environmental philosophyto offer detailed philosophical analysis and critique of journal articles published in the field;

By the end of the module, students should also have acquired a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:

1. define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant;
2. seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information;
3. process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments;
4. compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the strengths and limitations of their own and others’ positions or procedures;
5. write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications;
6. be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them;
7. think 'laterally' and creatively - see interesting connections and possibilities and present these clearly rather than as vague hunches;
8. maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position in collaboration with others;
9. think critically and constructively.

Module information

Incoming Study Abroad students must have already taken an introductory module in Philosophy at their home institution.

This is a module in ethical theory rather than practical ethics. That is, it takes up theoretical questions about the status and justification of morality rather than philosophical issues raised by practical moral problems.

Learning and teaching methods

1 x one-hour lecture each week followed by a one-hour class devoted to working together with assigned texts, plus 1 one-hour workshop on a wider theme. Week 21 is Reading Week


  • Kant, Immanuel; Gregor, Mary J; Timmermann, Jens. (2012) Groundwork of the metaphysics of morals, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kant, Immanuel. (c1999) 'On the supposed right to lie from philanthropy', in Practical philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press., pp.611-615
  • Kant, Immanuel; Reath, Andrews. (2015) Critique of practical reason, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Freyenhagen, Fabian. (2011) 'Empty, Useless, and Dangerous? Recent Kantian Replies to the Empty Formalism Objection', in Hegel Bulletin. vol. 32 (1-2) , pp.163-186
  • Smith, Norman Kemp. (2007) 'The Third Antinomy', in Critique of pure reason, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan., pp.A444-451, 532-558/B472-479, 560-586-
  • Kant, Immanuel; Gregor, Mary J. (c1999) Practical philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Reading quizzes TOTAL    30% 
Coursework   Essay plan (500 words)  14/03/2022  20% 
Coursework   Essay (2000 words)  08/04/2022  50% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Matteo Falomi, email:



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 923 hours, 18 (2%) hours available to students:
905 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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