Term 1 course materials 2015/16
New Reading List Software – Talis Aspire
The Philosophy department is trialling the use of a new reading list software for 15/16. While we aim to make sure this list is up to date, it is a transitional year, and so the traditional static reading list on these pages may be more accurate. However, the reading list is also available at: http://readinglists.warwick.ac.uk/modules/ph134.html http://readinglists.warwick.ac.uk/modules/ph133.html
Ancient Philosophy (weeks 1 - 3)
Lecturer: Dr Simon Scott
Main Text: Plato’s Gorgias
Students should note that the allocation of different topics to different lectures is approximate and one topic may run over into the following lecture.
Lecture 1: Introduction to Socrates (lecture slides)
- What are the advantages and disadvantages of the dialogue form for philosophy?
Irwin, Terence, 1995, 'The Argument of The Gorgias' in Plato's Ethics (Oxford University: Oxford).
Irwin, Terence, 1995, 'Plato, Socrates, and the Dialogues' in Plato's Ethics (Oxford University: Oxford).
Lecture 2: The Socratic method (lecture slides)
Main reading: Gorgias, 447a-461a
Secondary reading: Irwin, Terence, 1995, 'Socrates' Method' in Plato's Ethics (Oxford University: Oxford).
- How does Gorgias explain oratory?
- Does Gorgias’ position change during the discussion?
- Does Socrates successfully refute Gorgias’ argument?
- Is Socrates as unknowing as he claims to be?
- Critically assess the Socratic method of questioning.
- Socrates claims to be ignorant. Is this a philosophical position?
Lecture 3: Eudaimonia and Socrates’ ethics (lecture slides)
Main reading: Gorgias, 461a-481b
Secondary reading: White, F.C., 1990, ‘The Good in Plato’s Gorgias’, Phronesis (35:2), pp.117-127.
- What are the different conceptions of eudaimonia held by Gorgias, Polus and Socrates?
- Why does Socrates think the elenchus is ethical (this is implied, not stated)
- How does Polus’ position differ from Gorgias’ position?
- Do you agree with the claim that it is worse to commit wrong than to suffer wrong?
- Critically assess the importance of eudaimonia for Socrates.
Lecture 4: Socrates' political philosophy (lecture slides)
Main reading: Gorgias, 481b-486d
Secondary reading: Archie, Joseph Patrick, 1984, 'Callicles' Redoubtable Critique of the Polus Argument in Plato's 'Gorgias', Hermes (112:2), pp.167-176.
- Does Socrates successfully refute Polus’ position?
- What is the purpose of Callicles’ distinction between nature and convention/culture?
- Who are Callicles’ strong individuals?
- Are there inconsistencies in Callicles’ criticism of democracy?
- What is Callicles' concept of the strong individuals? Is his argument persuasive?
Lecture 5: Criticisms of Democracy (lecture slides)
Main reading: Gorgias, 486d-499b
Secondary reading: Stauffner, Devin, 2002, 'Socrates and Callicles: A Reading of Plato's "Gorgias"', The Review of Politics (64:4), pp.627-657.
- Critically assess Callicles' and Socrates' criticisms of democracy in the Gorgias.
Further secondary literature:
Guthrie, W.K.C., 1969, A History of Greek Philosophy vol.3 , Cambridge University Press. Part of this is reprinted as The Sophists, Cambridge University Press, 1971.
Guthrie W. K. C., 1975, A History of Greek Philosophy vol.4 part 4. Cambridge University Press
Irwin, T. H., 1995, Plato’s Ethics. Oxford university Press
Kraut, R., 1992 (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Plato. Cambridge University Press
Morrison, Donald R., 2011 (ed.), Cambridge Companion to Socrates. Cambridge University Press
Santas, G., 1979, Socrates: Philosophy in Plato’s Early Dialogues. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul
For those interested in taking a look at Leo Strauss:
Drury, Shadia B. The Political Ideas of Leo Strauss.
Smith, Steven B. The Cambridge Companion to Leo Strauss.
Klosko, George. 'The 'Straussian Interpretation of Plato's Republic'.
The Leo Strauss Center (includes transcripts of Strauss's classes on the Gorgias)
Political Philosophy (Weeks 4 & 5)
Lecturer: Professor Fabienne Peter
Main text: Thomas Hobbes Leviathan, ed. by R. Tuck, Cambridge University Press.
Lecture 1: Why do we need political institutions? (lecture slides)
Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 17
- Hampton, Jean. 1996. Political Philosophy. Boulder: Westview Press, chs. 1 & 3.
- Tuck, Richard. 2007. “The Utopianism of Leviathan.” In T. Sorell and L. Foisneau (eds.) Leviathan after 350 Years. Oxford, Oxford University Press, p. 125ff.
- Wolff, Robert Paul. 1970. In Defense of Anarchism. New York, Harper & Row, chapter 1.
Lecture 2: What would the world be like without political institutions? (lecture slides)
Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 13
- Hampton, Jean. 1986. Hobbes and the Social Contract Tradition. Cambridge UP. Chapters 2 & 3.
- Rawls, John. 2007. Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, lecture 2.
Lecture 3: The idea of a social contract (lecture slides)
Hobbes, Leviathan, chs. 14 & 18
- Hampton, Jean. 1986. Hobbes and the Social Contract Tradition. Cambridge UP. Chapters 6 & 7.
- Rawls, John. 2007. Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, lecture 1.
Lecture 4: What are the limits of our political obligations? (lecture slides)
Hobbes, Leviathan, ch. 21
- Rawls, John. 2007. Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, lecture 4.
- Wolff, Jonathan. “Political Obligation, Fairness and Independence.” Ratio 8: 87-99.
Suggested essay titles for Hobbes:
- Why does Hobbes think that our natural equality leads to a war of all against all?
- Does Hobbes have a good answer to the question of how can it be rational to consent to the creation of political authority?
- Explain and assess Hobbes’ claim that there are two ways in which legitimate political authority can be created: by “institution” and by “acquisition”.
- Does the right to self-defense make absolute sovereignty impossible?
Moral Philosophy (Weeks 7 & 8)
Lecturer: Dr Karen Simecek
Main text: Mill, John Stuart. 1998. Utilitarianism. Edited by Roger Crisp. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lecture 1: What is the highest good? (lecture slides and handout)
Mill, Utilitarianism, ch. 2.
- Donner, Wendy. 2005. “Mill’s Theory of Value.”In West Blackwell Guide to Mill’s Utilitarianism, pp. 117 – 138.
- Griffin, James. 1986. Well-Being. Oxford: Oxford University Press, chs. 1 – 4.
- Nozick, Robert. 1974. Anarchy, State, and Utopia. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 42 – 45.
Lecture 2: Should we be Utilitarians? (Lecture slides and handout)
Mill, Utilitarianism, ch. 4
- Skorupski, John. 1989. John Stuart Mill. New York: Routledge, chapter 9.
- West, Henry. 2005. “Mill’s ‘Proof’ of the Principle of Utility.” In West (ed.) Blackwell Guide to Mill’s Utilitarianism. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 174 – 183.
Suggested Essay Questions for week 7:
- Assess Mill's claim that there are higher and lower pleasures.
- What does Mill’s “proof” of utilitarianism aim to show. Does it succeed?
Lecture 3: Utilitarianism and Justice (lecture slides and handout)
Mill, Utilitarianism, ch. 5
- Berger, Fred. 1984. Happiness, Justice, and Freedom. Berkely: University of California Press, ch. 4.
- Rawls, John. 1971. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, §5.
- Sumner, L. W. 2006. “Mill’s Theory of Rights.” In West (ed.) Blackwell Guide to Mill’s Utilitarianism. Oxford: Blackwell, pp. 184 – 198.
Lecture 4: Does Utilitarianism Undermine Moral Integrity? (lecture slides and handout)
Mill, Utilitarianism, ch. 3
- Railton, Peter. 1988. “How Thinking about Character and Utilitarianism Might Lead to Rethinking the Character of Utilitarianism.” Midwest Studies in Philosophy 13: 398 – 416.
- Smart, J.J.C. and Bernard Williams. 1977. Utilitarianism: For and Against. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 82 – 118.
Suggested Essay Questions for week 8:
- Mill recognizes that how it deals with justice is one of the main objections against utilitarianism. Does Mill offer a satisfactory solution to this problem?
- Assess Bernard Williams' objection that utilitarianism undermines moral integrity.
Continental Philosophy (Weeks 9 & 10)
Lecturer: Professor Peter Poellner
Main Text: Friedrich Nietzsche Beyond Good and Evil (BGE), trans. Hollingdale, Penguin.
Lecture 1: critique of morality
For the lecture handout click here.
Sections referred to in the lecture: BGE, sect. 33, 62, 108, 186, 188, 191, 194, 199, 200, 201, 202, 203, 220, 260.
Also relevant: Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, Essay 1, esp. sections 10-14 (these expand the mini-genealogy of BGE 260).
Suggested essay question: What are the grounds of Nietzsche’s critique of morality? Is that critique plausible?
Brian Leiter, Nietzsche on Morality (Routledge Guidebook, 2002), chapters 4 and 6.
David Owen, Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality (McGill UP, Montreal, 2007), chs. 2 & 5.
The current debate on ressentiment:
Wallace, Jay 'Ressentiment, Value, and Self-Vindication' in B. Leiter and N. Sinhababu (eds.) Nietzsche and Morality (Oxford UP, 2007), pp. 110-137.
Poellner, Peter 'Ressentiment and Morality’, in S. May (ed.) A Critical Guide to Nietzsche’s 'On the Genealogy of Morality' (Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 120-141.
(Both of these are available in the Short Loans section of the Library.)
Lecture 2: philosophy, truth, and the philosophical will to truth
For the lecture handout click here
Sections referred to in the lecture: BGE, sect. 1, 3, 4, , 5, 10, 16, 34, 230, 296.
Also relevant: Nietzsche, On the Genealogy of Morality, Essay 3, sections 11, 12, 23-27.
Suggested essay question: What is it that Nietzsche objects to in philosophy’s concern with truth? Or: Is Nietzsche proposing a novel understanding of truth, or of the value of truth? Discuss the merits of his position.
Ken Gemes ‘Nietzsche’s Critique of Truth’ in B. Leiter and J. Richardson (eds) Nietzsche (OUP, 2001).
Peter Poellner ‘Perspectival Truth’ in Leiter & Richardson, Nietzsche (OUP, 2001).
Lecture 3: subjectivity and the will
For the lecture handout click here
Sections referred to in the lecture: BGE sect. 13, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 24, 36, 225.
Also relevant: Nietzsche, The Gay Science, sect. 354, 357
Nietzsche, The Will to Power, sect. 229, 377, 479, 663, 676, 656, 689, 696, 707.
Suggested essay question: Discuss Nietzsche’s psychology of the will.
Bernard Reginster, The Affirmation of Life (Harvard University Press, 2006), chapt. 3 (‘The Will to Power’), pp. 103-147, or
J. Richardson, ‘Nietzsche’s Power Ontology’, in Leiter& Richardson (eds) Nietzsche (OUP, 2001).
Lecture 4: Nietzsche’s ethics: The ideal of the Free Spirit
BGE Part 2, ‘The Free Spirit’; plus sections 21, 29, 32, 34, 187, 188, 212, 213, 224, 225, 227, 296.
Also relevant: Nietzsche, The Gay Science, sect. 290, 301, 335, 347.
Nietzsche, Thus spoke Zarathustra, ‘Of Self-Overcoming’.
Suggested essay question: Discuss Nietzsche’s ideal of the free spirit.
The following commentaries stress different aspects of Nietzsche's ideal of the free spirit:
R. Lanier Anderson, 'What is a Nietzschean Self?', in C. Janaway and S. Robertson (eds) Nietzsche, Naturalism and Normativity (OUP, 2012). [On self-creation].
Ken Gemes, ‘Nietzsche on Free Will, Autonomy, and the Sovereign Individual’ in K. Gemes and S. May (eds) Nietzsche on Freedom and Autonomy (OUP, 2009). [On unity of style].
Bernard Reginster, 'The Will to Power and the Ethics of Creativity', in B. Leiter and N. Sinhababu (eds) Nietzsche and Morality (OUP, 2007). [On affirming the will to power].
Peter Poellner, ‘Nietzschean Freedom’, in Gemes & May (eds), Nietzsche on Freedom and Autonomy. (OUP, 2009). [On 'creating a law for oneself' and metaphysical indifference].
Peter Poellner, 'Aestheticist Ethics', in C. Janaway and S. Robertson (eds) Nietzsche, Naturalism and Normativity (OUP, 2012). [Esp. sections 6 & 7: on self-overcoming and going beyond what is understood and known].