The Department of Philosophy offers courses in the subjects of Practical Philosophy, Theoretical Philosophy, Cognitive Science and Core Studies in the Arts and Sciences. Within these subjects there are also shorter free-standing courses.
Practical philosophy can be defined as the study of the foundations of philosophy (metaphysics, knowledge theory, logic) for "practical thinking ", with the emphasis on values, attitudes to life and norms of behaviour. Value theory and analysis of normative positions constitute the core of practical philosophy. The areas of "practical thinking" which are studied in particular are morals (moral philosophy and applied ethics), law (philosophy of law), politics (political philosophy), practical rationality (decision theory), religion (philosophy of religion) and art (aesthetics).
Practical philosophy has also come to include philosophical anthropology (the study of human nature), scientific theory for humanities and social sciences and the analysis of argumentation.
Within practical philosophy, several second cycle courses are offered in addition to a level 4 course which offer the opportunity to specialise within the main subject area for a one- or two-year master’s degree. For more information, please contact the department.
Theoretical philosophy is one of the oldest disciplines and is usually divided into philosophy of language, logic, knowledge theory, metaphysics and philosophy of science. The areas can be illustrated by questions such as: how does language function as a means of communication and how does it relate to thought and reality? How does one determine whether an argument is right or wrong? Where does our knowledge come from and how certain is it? How is reality ultimately constituted and how do the spiritual and the material relate to one another? The history of philosophy is also included in theoretical philosophy.
Cognitive science explores thought from several scholarly perspectives. Phenomena such as perception, action, memory, learning, language, communication, conceptualisation, problem solving, decision-making, and human interaction with and within complex environments are central to the discipline. These phenomena are studied through combinations of knowledge and methods from psychology, computer science, neuroscience, biology, linguistics, philosophy, anthropology, pedagogy and informatics. An overarching aim is a better understanding of the interplay between human beings and their surroundings, in order to contribute to the development of systems, artefacts and methods that work well for people. The multifaceted comparative approach is based on: (i) artificial systems such as robots and virtual agents; (ii) other biological systems, in particular other primates; (iii) the development of knowledgeable beings over time: from an evolutionary and individual perspective, and (iv) human variation to study how structures in cognitive processes vary under different circumstances.
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