PY911-7-AU-CO:
Environmental Philosophy

The details
2023/24
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Autumn
Postgraduate: Level 7
Current
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 15 December 2023
20
19 October 2023

 

Requisites for this module
(none)
(none)
(none)
(none)

 

(none)

Key module for

MA F85212 Environment, Society and Culture,
MA F85224 Environment, Society and Culture,
MA F852MO Environment, Society and Culture

Module description

This module will introduce students to the key debates within environmental philosophy, looking at the history of environmental philosophy as well as at contemporary debates, including animal ethics, the ethics of climate change, environmental racism and the rights of future generations (the specific topics may change from year to year).


Throughout the course, we will actively engage with recent news stories and developments in environmental science, finding and discussing the conceptual questions and ethical dilemmas these give rise to. We will consider the strengths and weaknesses of applying traditional ethical frameworks like deontology, virtue ethics and utilitarianism to these problems, and look at more recent attempts at attributing value to our non-human environment.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:



  • To introduce students to key questions and areas of research within environmental philosophy and its history.

  • To consider how thinking about nature and non-human animals affects our interactions with and treatment of the environment.

  • To consider the ethical challenges posed by climate change and ecological degradation.

  • To critically evaluate current human practices and philosophical positions.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:



  1. Explain the philosophical arguments that they have studied.

  2. Understand and critically evaluate environmental policies, strategies and positions in the public debate drawing on philosophy and related disciplines.

  3. Critically evaluate the philosophical arguments that they have studied.

  4. To form their own opinions about the success or failure of these philosophical arguments.


Skills of your Professional Life (Transferable Skills)


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



  1. Process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments.

  2. Compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure.

  3. Write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of strategies, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications.

  4. Be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them.

Module information

This module will introduce students to the key debates within environmental philosophy, looking at the history of environmental philosophy as well as at contemporary debates, including animal ethics, the ethics of climate change, environmental racism and the rights of future generations (the specific topics may change from year to year).


Throughout the course, we will actively engage with recent news stories and developments in environmental science, finding and discussing the conceptual questions and ethical dilemmas these give rise to. We will consider the strengths and weaknesses of applying traditional ethical frameworks like deontology, virtue ethics and utilitarianism to these problems, and look at more recent attempts at attributing value to our non-human environment.


Syllabus (note: this is an example of the topics that may be covered and is subject to change):



  • Introduction to Environmental Ethics: Philosophical questions and main fault lines.

  • Looking at nature: Anthropocentrism and nature in the history of Western philosophy.

  • Animal Ethics: Singer and Foer.

  • Animal Ethics: Regan, Donaldson and Kymlicka.

  • Hot-house Ethics: The ethical dilemmas of the climate emergency.

  • Traditional Responses (utilitarianism, deontology, virtue ethics).

  • Alternative responses (1): Radical ecology and the ethics of deep adaptation.

  • Alternative responses (2): Eco-feminism, environmental racism and sexism.

  • Alternative responses (3): Non-Western philosophy.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour combined lecture and seminar per week.

The sessions which will consist of a lecture by the module leader, contributions from students and classroom discussion.

Students will read weekly assignments and additional readings and formulate their own essay questions in consultation with the module leader.

Students will develop their coursework in peer groups and will submit one draft of their final submissions to their peer group for comments.

Bibliography

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 Coursework weighting
Coursework   4000 word essay   18/12/2023   

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%

Reassessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Irene McMullin, email: i.mcmullin@essex.ac.uk.
PHAIS Postgraduate Queries: phaispg@essex.ac.uk

 

Availability
Yes
Yes
Yes

External examiner

Dr Alexander Golob
King's College London
Senior Lecturer
Resources
Available via Moodle
Of 19 hours, 17 (89.5%) hours available to students:
2 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s), module, or event type.

 


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