About this Course
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Approx. 14 hours to complete

English

Subtitles: Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Dutch, Turkish, English, Hebrew, Spanish, Romanian...

100% online

Start instantly and learn at your own schedule.

Flexible deadlines

Reset deadlines in accordance to your schedule.

Approx. 14 hours to complete

English

Subtitles: Chinese (Simplified), Vietnamese, Dutch, Turkish, English, Hebrew, Spanish, Romanian...

Syllabus - What you will learn from this course

Week
1
2 hours to complete

What is Philosophy?

(Dr. Dave Ward) We’ll start the course by thinking about what Philosophy actually is: what makes it different from other subjects? What are its distinctive aims and methods? We'll also think about why the questions that philosophers attempt to answer are often thought to be both fundamental and important, and have a look at how philosophy is actually practiced. Finally, we'll briefly touch upon two very influential philosophers' answers to the question of how we can know whether, in any given case, there really is a right way of thinking about things....
4 videos (Total 47 min), 3 readings, 2 quizzes
4 videos
Philosophy: Difficult, Important and Everywhere11m
Philosophy: How Do We Do It?17m
Is There A 'Right Way' To Think About Things?6m
3 readings
About this Course10m
Module: What is Philosophy?10m
Optional Reading10m
2 practice exercises
Practice: What is Philosophy?8m
What is Philosophy?10m
Week
2
1 hour to complete

Morality: Objective, Relative or Emotive?

(Dr. Matthew Chrisman) We all live with some sense of what is good or bad, some feelings about which ways of conducting ourselves are better or worse. But what is the status of these moral beliefs, senses, or feelings? Should we think of them as reflecting hard, objective facts about our world, of the sort that scientists could uncover and study? Or should we think of moral judgements as mere expressions of personal or cultural preferences? In this module we’ll survey some of the different options that are available when we’re thinking about these issues, and the problems and prospects for each....
4 videos (Total 44 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
4 videos
Objectivism, Relativism and Emotivism13m
Objections to Objectivism, Relativism and Emotivism11m
Further Discussion7m
2 readings
Module: Morality: Objective, Emotive or Relative?10m
Related work by Philosophy staff at the University of Edinburgh10m
1 practice exercise
Practice: Morality: Objective, Relative or Emotive?12m
1 hour to complete

What is Knowledge? And Do We Have Any?

(Professor Duncan Pritchard) We know a lot of things – or, at least, we think we do. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that studies knowledge; what it is, and the ways we can come to have it. In this module, we’ll take a tour through some of the issues that arise in this branch of philosophy. In particular, we’ll think about what radical scepticism means for our claims to knowledge. How can we know something is the case if we’re unable to rule out possibilities that are clearly incompatible with it? ...
5 videos (Total 56 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
5 videos
The Classical Account of Knowledge and the Gettier Problem18m
Do We Have Any Knowledge?10m
Further Discussion 110m
Further Discussion 23m
2 readings
Module: What is Knowledge? And Do We Have Any?10m
Related work by Philosophy staff at the University of Edinburgh10m
1 practice exercise
Practice: What is Knowledge? And Do We Have Any?12m
1 hour to complete

Week 2 review: Lesson Choices

...
2 quizzes
2 practice exercises
Morality: Objective, Relative or Emotive?20m
What is Knowledge? And Do We Have Any?24m
Week
3
1 hour to complete

Do We Have an Obligation to Obey the Law?

(Dr. Guy Fletcher) The laws of a state govern what we can and cannot do within that state. But do we have an obligation to obey those laws? In this module, we'll discuss this question, together with some of the main positions that philosophers have developed in response to it. We'll start off by examining what obeying the law means exactly. Then we'll look at three factors that might form the basis of an obligation to follow the law. Finally, we'll discuss what the consequences might be if the problem can't be solved....
7 videos (Total 27 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
7 videos
The Grounds of Political Obligation2m
Gratitude and Benefit4m
Consent8m
Fairness3m
What if the Problem Can't Be Solved?1m
Summary1m
2 readings
Module: Do We Have an Obligation to Obey the Law?10m
Related work by Philosophy staff at the University of Edinburgh10m
1 practice exercise
Practice: Do We Have an Obligation to Obey the Law?20m
1 hour to complete

Should You Believe What You Hear?

(Dr. Allan Hazlett) Much of what we think about the world we believe on the basis of what other people say. But is this trust in other people's testimony justified? In this module, we’ll investigate how this question was addressed by two great philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment, David Hume (1711 - 1776) and Thomas Reid (1710 - 1796). Hume and Reid's dispute about testimony represents a clash between two worldviews that would continue to clash for centuries: a skeptical and often secular worldview, eager to question everything (represented by Hume), and a conservative and often religious worldview, keen to defend common sense (represented by Reid). ...
5 videos (Total 25 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
5 videos
Reid's Challenge to Hume2m
Reid's Argument5m
Kant, the Enlightenment and Intellectual Autonomy4m
The Value of Intellectual Autonomy3m
2 readings
Module: Should You Believe What You Hear?10m
Related work by Philosophy staff at the University of Edinburgh10m
1 practice exercise
Practice: Should You Believe What You Hear?8m
1 hour to complete

Week 3 review: Lesson Choices

...
2 quizzes
2 practice exercises
Do We Have an Obligation to Obey the Law?20m
Should You Believe What You Hear?20m
Week
4
2 hours to complete

Minds, Brains and Computers

(Dr. Suilin Lavelle) If you’re reading this, then you’ve got a mind. But what is a mind, and what does it take to have one? Should we understand minds as sets of dispositions to behave in certain ways, as patterns of neural activation, or as akin to programmes that are run on the computational hardware of our brains? In this module, we’ll look at how and why recent philosophy of mind and psychology has embraced each of these options in turn, and think about the problems and prospects for each. ...
7 videos (Total 57 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
7 videos
Physicalism: Identity Theory and Functionalism13m
Functionalism and What Mental States Do8m
Functionalism and Functional Complexity4m
Minds vs. Machines: The Turing Test and the Chinese Room11m
Minds vs. Machines: Problems for the Computational View of the Mind4m
Further Discussion4m
2 readings
Module: Mind, Brains and Computers10m
Related work by Philosophy staff at the University of Edinburgh10m
1 practice exercise
Practice: Minds, Brains and Computers24m
1 hour to complete

Are Scientific Theories True?

(Professor Michela Massimi) In this module we will explore a central and ongoing debate in contemporary philosophy of science: whether or not scientific theories are true. Or better, whether a scientific theory needs to be 'true' to be good at all. The answer to this question comes in two main varieties. Scientific realists believe that theories ought to be true in order to be good. We will analyse their main argument for this claim (which goes under the name of 'no miracles argument'), and some prominent objections to it. Scientific antirealists, on the other hand, defend the view that there is nothing special about 'truth' and that scientific theories and scientific progress can be understood without appeal to it. The aim of this session is to present both views, their main arguments, and prospects....
7 videos (Total 29 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
7 videos
Saving the Phenomena? Ptolemeic Astronomy5m
Truth? Galileo and Copernican Astronomy2m
Scientific Realism and the No Miracles Argument3m
Scientific Anti-Realism: Constructive Empiricism7m
Realist Rejoinders: Inference to the Best Explanation5m
Concluding Summary2m
2 readings
Module: Are Scientific Theories True?10m
Related work by Philosophy staff at the University of Edinburgh10m
1 practice exercise
Practice: Are Scientific Theories True?16m
1 hour to complete

Week 4 review: Lesson Choices

...
2 quizzes
2 practice exercises
Minds, Brains and Computers20m
Are Scientific Theories True?20m
Week
5
1 hour to complete

Do We Have Free Will and Does It Matter?

(Dr. Elinor Mason) We typically feel that the actions that we make are the result of our own free choices. But what if those actions are simply the end result of a long chain of cause and effect? What does this mean for free will? In this module, we'll look at the concept of determinism. In particular, we'll consider the implications that determinism might have for the notion of free will....
5 videos (Total 35 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
5 videos
Libertarianism10m
Compatibilism7m
Hard Determinism3m
Summary2m
2 readings
Module: Do We Have Free Will? Does it Matter?10m
Related work by Philosophy staff at the University of Edinburgh10m
1 practice exercise
Practice: Do We Have Free Will and Does It Matter?20m
1 hour to complete

Time Travel and Philosophy

(Dr. Alasdair Richmond) In this module we'll think about some issues in metaphysics, a branch of philosophy that investigates the ways that reality could intelligibly be. Our case study will be the possibility, or otherwise, of time-travel. Some have thought that the apparent possibility of creating a machine that we could use to transport a person backwards in time can be ruled out just by thinking about it. But is time-travel really logically impossible? What would the universe have to be like for it to be possible? And can we know whether our universe fits the bill?...
6 videos (Total 49 min), 2 readings, 1 quiz
6 videos
Grandfather Paradoxes9m
Two Senses of Change7m
Causal Loops7m
Where Next?8m
Further Discussions8m
2 readings
Module: Time Travel and Philosophy10m
Related work by Philosophy staff at the University of Edinburgh10m
1 practice exercise
Practice: Time Travel and Philosophy16m
1 hour to complete

Week 5 review: Lesson Choices

...
2 quizzes
2 practice exercises
Do We Have Free Will and Does It Matter?20m
Time Travel and Philosophy20m
2 hours to complete

Peer review

...
1 quiz
4.6
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got a tangible career benefit from this course

Top Reviews

By LTSep 2nd 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed this course and find that it encouragingly sets some directions, and of course, raises my excitement for further study into some of the different fields of philosophy. Thank you.

By CCOct 8th 2015

Great explanations that is broken down with examples for understanding. Quizzes test for your understanding of the topic rather than just the textbook explanations. Challenging and thought revoking.

Instructors

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Dr. Dave Ward

Lecturer in Philosophy
University of Edinburgh
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Professor Duncan Pritchard

Professor of Philosophy
University of Edinburgh
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Professor Michela Massimi

Full Professor
Philosophy
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Dr. Suilin Lavelle

Lecturer in Philosophy
University of Edinburgh
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Dr. Matthew Chrisman

Reader in Philosophy
Philosophy
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Guy Fletcher

Lecturer
Philosophy
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Elinor Mason

Senior Lecturer
Philosophy

About The University of Edinburgh

Influencing the world since 1583, The University of Edinburgh is consistently ranked as one of the world's top 50 universities. Today, we are an established and global leader in online learning, providing degree-level education to 3,000 online students in addition to 36,000 students on-campus. We also offer a wide range of free online courses in a variety of subjects. To find out more about studying for one of our online degrees, search for ‘Edinburgh online’ or visit www.ed.ac.uk/studying/online-learning/postgraduate ...

Frequently Asked Questions

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  • When you purchase a Certificate you get access to all course materials, including graded assignments. Upon completing the course, your electronic Certificate will be added to your Accomplishments page - from there, you can print your Certificate or add it to your LinkedIn profile. If you only want to read and view the course content, you can audit the course for free.

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