What is it to do research in philosophy? Among other things, it is to engage in philosophers' particular ways of "doing philosophy", which reflect themselves in particular ways of arguing, writing, and discussing. What is distinctive about philosophy is that right from the earliest Presocratic thinkers up to the present day, this activity of doing philosophy is itself subject to philosophical investigation and reflection. In this module, you will become part of this tradition, by both improving and reflecting on your practice of doing philosophy.
The module will challenge you to sharpen your skills in reading, presenting, criticising and constructing arguments. At the same time, you will critically reflect on different ways of doing philosophy, and learn to appreciate the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches. The module will equip you with the skills to contribute to philosophical research, and with the critical awareness that will allow you to select and shape your own approach to doing philosophy. A distinctive feature of this module is that each seminar is normally taught jointly by two members of staff, which will enable you to appreciate different ways of reading and discussing philosophy in action.
For each seminar, we will closely read a "contemporary classic" text. Some of these papers or book chapters focus explicitly on the topic of philosophical research methods, while others are paradigm examples of distinct philosophical methods and approaches. Students start off the seminar discussions by giving oral presentations on the selected text. The ensuing discussion will allow you to explore and discuss philosophical methods and research techniques, and to understand the most effective ways of presenting arguments and ideas orally and in writing. Written and oral assignments give you the opportunity to employ this knowledge and practice your philosophical skills