This course is at Upper Intermediate/Advanced level and so would not be suitable for people who are new to studying philosophy. It would be an ideal continuation course for students who have previously studied on our Intermediate level courses and who now want a course that will look at the work of a particular philosopher or theme in some depth. It may also be suitable for people who have had some previous grounding in Philosophy and who now want to study in more depth.
Although you should have some previous experience of studying philosophy it is not expected that you need to have a great deal of familiarity with Effective Altruism, as this is what the course will aim to provide.
This course will cover key thinkers in the Effective Altruism movement, especially Peter Singer, Will MacAskill, and Toby Ord.
This course will examine the core ethical philosophies of Effective Altruism: Utilitarianism and consequentialism
This course will examine the main strands of EA theory and practice: environmental and animal welfare; philanthropy and philanthrocapitalism; existential risk and long-termism.
This course will explore and examine ethical and political critiques of Effective Altruism
What students should be able to do by the end of the course?:
Students will be able to give an account of the philosophical underpinnings of Effective Altruism and they will be able explain how Effective Altruists apply their philosophy to various social challenges of the 21st century.
' To explore a topic in ethical philosophy in depth
' To deepen your critical thinking skills
' To develop philosophical arguments and defend them
' To be able to appreciate other points of view and respectfully disagree with others.
' The classes will include mini-lectures/presentations, class discussion, individual reflection, student-led discussions, tactile learning.
' We will engage readings, podcasts, video sources, and other visual media
(How we assess your progress on the course)
' You will be asked to fill out a self-assessment and you will receive brief written feedback from the instructor twice (middle and end of term)
' All readings and sources will be provided on Moodle which will need to be read/listened to/watched in preparation for each class.
Other Upper Intermediate or Advanced level Philosophy courses at the Mary Ward Centre or other similar establishments. Other courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences with a strong emphasis on theory and the study of the mind and human behaviour(e.g., Psychology, Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, History).
In two short decades Effective Altruism has transformed from a small club of intellectuals from California and Oxford into a massive social and ethical movement that manages grants and projects worth billions of dollars, has high profile and celebrity adherents, runs yearly conferences attended by hundreds of people, has local branches in several cities worldwide, and is discussed at academic conferences as well is in the popular media. The movement began by people who wanted to reduce suffering in the world by making charities more effective and more rational and measurable. But it has grown into a broader philosophical and social movement garnering critique from outside and internal debates. Regardless, Effective Altruism (EA) has become a major philosophical phenomena of the 21st century that because of the wealth and the influence of people involved has a tremendous impact on global health, environmentalism, technology development and ethics, and ethical discourse more generally. For these reasons, at least, it is worth exploring Effective Altruism.
One unexpected outcome of the Enlightenment period was the rise of nihilism, a crisis of finding any real meaning in the emerging scientific worldview. The development of the new philosophical movement of phenomenology can be seen as, in part, a response to this crisis. Husserl sought to analyse the role of consciousness in constituting meaning in experience in a way which united our daily experience of the world with the scientific world view. The approach he developed was swiftly challenged in the name of a more embodied and historically situated account of meaning by the work of Heidegger, de Beauvoir, Sartre and Merleau-Ponty. This course will explore how the emergence of phenomenology as a philosophical method came to be inextricably linked to the wider issue of Existentialism as a response to the urgent problems of the 20th Century.
Explore some of the most important ideas, themes, and thinkers in the history of Western philosophy. Learn about some of the central problems of philosophy, and how to puzzle them out for yourselves.
This course will cover a very old idea that has lost none of its relevance in modern times. The problem of evil is usually understood to be first and foremost a theological matter - how can a good God permit terrible things to happen? Doesn't the existence of evil demonstrate that God does not exist? - but the discussion of evil has in fact taken many forms. This course will examine evil, and its existence (or otherwise), from multiple angles - as a philosophical definition, as a problem for political systems, as a construction of man, and as an aesthetic and psychological concern. In a rational world, what place is there for evil? Why do we persist in using the word even when our metaphysical or religious frameworks for invoking it no longer exist? Philosophers included in the course: Arendt, Augustine, Bataille, Kant, Leibniz, Midgley, Nietzsche, Plantinga, Plotinus, de Sade