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Issues In Philosophy (PH121-12 & PH141-15)


This module has been discontinued from 2017-18.


The first few sessions will be on knowledge and scepticism. Sceptical scenarios are familiar in philosophy (Descartes), and in Hollywood (The Matrix). One question, then, is: can you know that you are not actually in a sceptical scenario? For example, can you know you are not in a Matrix-style scenario? If not, can you know any of the things you ordinarily think you know? Some philosophers argue that if you can't know you are not in a sceptical scenario then you can't know many of the things you think you know. Philosophers who argue in this way rely on something called the principle of epistemic closure so the first couple of lectures will focus on this principle

The last few sessions will be on the nature of persons and personal identity.


At the end of the module students should have acquired a good understanding of some key issues in metaphysics, epistemology and philosophy of mind. They should be able to 1. understand the main debates over the nature of knowledge, belief and persons 2. articulate their own view of the relative merits of different positions in these debates 3 critically analyse and evaluate philosophical arguments 4 display knowledge of key historical texts concerning knowledge, belief and persons.


In this module students must attend 2 hours of lectures and one hour of seminars per week

Lectures for 2016-17
  • Tuesdays 5pm to 6pm in room PLT
  • Thursdays 11am to 12pm in room LIB2

There will be no lectures in reading week (week 6)

Seminars for 2016-17

Seminars start in week 2 and run for the rest of the term.

There will be no seminars in reading week (week 6)

Sign up for a seminar group using Tabula if you have not been assigned a seminar group in your induction pack.


This module can be formally assessed in the following ways:

  • 1 x 2000 word essay for part-year visiting exchange students only doing PH121-12
  • 1 x 2500 word essay for part-year visiting exchange students only doing PH141-15
  • 100% examination for all other students (on either module code)

In addition students are required to submit 2 unassessed essays of approximately 1500 words each via Tabula in line with the 2015-16 essay deadlines schedule.


Weeks 1-5

Barry Stroud (1984) The Significance of Philosophical Scepticism. Oxford: OUP. Chapter 1, available on the course materials page.

Keith DeRose and Ted Warfield eds. (1999) Skepticism: A Contemporary Reader. Oxford: OUP. Introduction (by DeRose). Available at:

If you haven't already done so, you might also want to watch The Matrix.

Weeks 7-10

J. Perry (ed.) (2008) Personal Identity. University of California Press, 2nd edition. Introduction, available on the course materials page.


From October 2016 course materials will be available on Moodle. Simply sign in and select the module from your Moodle home page.

Please note you must be regisitered for the module on eMR in order to access the relevant page.

Module Tutor


Dr Simon Scott

Teaching Assistants: