Philosophy in all Honour Schools including Philosophy
Differences from 2018/19 to 2021/22
Candidates offering Philosophy papers1 in any honour school must conform to the General Regulations below, and to those for their particular school, as specified elsewhere. When papers are introduced or withdrawn, the regulations will show the year of first examination, or of last examination, respectively.
Subjects in Philosophy
The syllabuses of the subjects in Philosophy are specified below. With the exception of 199, and any 198 Special Subject where an alternative method is stipulated, all subjects will be examined by a three-hour written examination paper; candidates for Part C of the Honour Schools of Computer Science
& Philosophy, Mathematics & Philosophy, and Physics & Philosophy will in addition be examined by a submitted essay, as described in the General Regulations below.
101. Early Modern Philosophy
Candidates will be expected to show critical appreciation of the main philosophical ideas of the period. The subject will be studied in connection with the following texts: Descartes, Meditations, Objections and Replies; Spinoza, Ethics; Leibniz, Monadology, Discourse on Metaphysics; Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding; Berkeley, Principles of Human Knowledge, Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous; Hume, Treatise of Human Nature. The paper will consist of two sections; Section A will include questions about Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz; Section B will include questions about Locke, Berkeley and Hume. Candidates will be required to answer three questions, with at least one question from Section A and at least one question from Section B.
102. Knowledge and Reality
Candidates will be expected to show knowledge in some of the following areas: knowledge and justification; perception; memory; induction; other minds; a priori knowledge; necessity and possibility; reference; truth; facts and propositions; definition; existence; identity, including personal identity; substances, change, events; properties; causation; space; time; essence; natural kinds; realism and idealism; primary and secondary qualities.
Candidates will be given an opportunity to show some first-hand knowledge of some principal historical writings on this subject, including those of Aristotle, Hume, and Kant, but will not be required to do so. Questions will normally be set on the following topics:
1. The Metaphysics of Ethics: including the nature of morality and moral properties, the truth-aptness of moral judgements, moral knowledge and moral relativism.
2. Value and Normativity: including good and right, reasons, rationality, motivation, moral dilemmas.
3. Self-interest, Altruism, and Amoralism.
4. Ethical Theories: including consequentialism, utilitarianism, and contractualism.
5. Specific Moral Concepts: including happiness, well-being, rights, virtue, fairness, equality, and desert.
6. Moral Psychology: including conscience, guilt and shame, freedom and responsibility.
7. Applied Ethics, including medical ethics.
104. Philosophy of Mind
Topics to be studied include the nature of persons, the relation of mind and body, self-knowledge, knowledge of other persons, consciousness, perception, memory, imagination, thinking, belief, feeling and emotion, desire, action, the explanation of action, subconscious and unconscious mental processes.
106. Philosophy of Science and Social Science
The paper will include such topics as:
Part A: the nature of theories; scientific observation and method; scientific explanation; the interpretation of laws and probability; rationality and scientific change; major schools of philosophy of science.
Part B: social meaning; individualism; rationality; rational choice theory; prediction and explanation in economics; the explanation of social action; historical explanation, ideology.
Candidates in the Honour School of Physics and Philosophy will be required to answer at least one question from each part of the paper. Candidates in other schools will be required to answer at least one question from Part B, and may answer exclusively from Part B if they wish.
107. Philosophy of Religion
The subject will include an examination of claims about the existence of God, and God's relation to the world; their meaning, the possibility of their truth, and the kind of justification which can or needs to be provided for them; and the philosophical problems raised by the existence of different religions. One or two questions may also be set on central claims peculiar to Christianity, such as the doctrines of the Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement.
108. The Philosophy of Logic and Language
The subject will include questions on such topics as: meaning, truth, logical form, necessity, existence, entailment, proper and general names, pronouns, definite descriptions, intensional contexts, adjectives and nominalization, adverbs, metaphor,
’s work on the paradox of the ‘concept “horse ”’ and on sense and reference. Some questions will be set which allow candidates to make use of knowledge of linguistics.
109. Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Criticism
Candidates will have the opportunity to show first-hand knowledge of some principal authorities on the subject, including Plato, Ion and Republic; Aristotle, Poetics; Hume, Of the Standard of Taste; Kant, Critique of Aesthetic Judgement. Questions will normally be set on the following topics: the nature of aesthetic value; the definition of art; art, society, and morality; criticism and interpretation; metaphor; expression; pictorial representation.
110. Medieval Philosophy: Aquinas
The subject will be studied in the following text (The Fathers of the English Dominican Province edition, 1911, rev. 1920):
Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Ia, 2-11, 75-89 (God, Metaphysics, and Mind); or Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, Ia IIae qq. 1-10, 90-97 (Action and Will; Natural Law). This paper will include an optional question containing passages for comment. This subject may not be combined with subject 111.
111. Medieval Philosophy: Duns Scotus, Ockham
The subject will be studied in the following texts:
Duns Scotus, Philosophical Writings, tr. Wolter (Hackett) pp. 13-95 (chapters II-IV); Spade, Five Texts, pp. 57-113. Ockham, Philosophical Writings, tr. Boehner (Hackett), pp. 17-27, 96-126 (chapters II
§1-2, chapters VIII-IX); Spade, Five Texts, pp. 114-231. This paper will include an optional question containing passages for comment. This subject may not be combined with subject 110.
112. The Philosophy of Kant
Critique of Pure Reason, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. The editions to be used are Critique of Pure Reason, ed. and trans. by P. Guyer and A. Wood (Cambridge University Press, 1998) and Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, ed. and trans. by M. Gregor (Cambridge University Press, 1997).
Candidates may answer no more than one question on Kant's moral philosophy.
113. Post-Kantian Philosophy
The main developments of philosophy in Continental Europe after Kant, excluding Marxism and analytical philosophy. Questions on the following authors will regularly be set: Hegel, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty. There will be some general and/or comparative questions, and questions on other authors may be set from time to time. Candidates will be required to show adequate first-hand knowledge of works of at least two authors (who may be studied in translation).
114. Theory of Politics
The critical study of political values and of the concepts used in political analysis: the concept of the political; power, authority, and related concepts; the state; law; liberty and rights; justice and equality; public interest and common good; democracy and representation; political obligation and civil disobedience; ideology; liberalism, socialism, and conservatism.
115. Plato: Republic, tr. Grube, revised Reeve (Hackett).
There will be a compulsory question containing passages for comment.
116. Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics, tr. Irwin (Hackett, second edition).
There will be a compulsory question containing passages for comment.
120. Intermediate Philosophy of Physics
The paper will consist of two sections. Section A will include philosophical problems associated with classical physics and some basic philosophical issues raised by the Special Theory of Relativity. Section B will be concerned with introductory philosophical problems related to the interpretation of quantum mechanics. Candidates will be required to answer at least one question from each section.
122. Philosophy of Mathematics
Questions may be set which relate to the following issues: Incommensurables in the development of Greek geometry. Comparisons between geometry and other branches of mathematics. The significance of non-Euclidean geometry. The problem of mathematical rigour in the development of the calculus. The place of intuition in mathematics (Kant, Poincar
é). The idea that mathematics needs foundations. The role of logic and set theory (Dedekind, Cantor, Frege, Russell). The claim that mathematics must be constructive (Brouwer). The finitary study of formal systems as a means of justifying infinitary mathematics (Hilbert). Limits to the formalization of mathematics (G ödel). Anti-foundational views of mathematics. Mathematical objects and structures. The nature of infinity. The applicability of mathematics. ’s work on type theory and the vicious circle principle.
124. Philosophy of Science
This paper will include such topics as: scientific method, including induction, confirmation, corroboration, and explanation; the structure of scientific theories, including syntactic and semantic approaches, the nature of scientific laws, the theory-observation distinction, inter-theory reduction, theory unification, and emergence; debates over realism, including the aims of science, the under-determination of theory by data, and structuralism; and scientific rationality, including theory change, epistemological naturalism, and Bayesian epistemology. Questions will also be set on historical schools in the philosophy of science, in particular logical positivism and logical empiricism, on aspects of the history of science, and on the philosophy of probability, including the nature of probabilistic laws.
125. Philosophy of Cognitive Science
Topics to be studied include: levels of description, including personal and subpersonal levels, and relationships between levels; the nature of cognitive scientific theories; information and representation, including representational format, the language of thought, and connectionist alternatives; information processing, including algorithms, and tacit knowledge of rules; cognitive architecture, including modularity, and homuncular functionalism; explanation in cognitive science, including functional explanation and mechanistic explanation; methods in cognitive science, including cognitive neuropsychology, computational modelling, and experimental cognitive psychology; the scientific study of consciousness, including the status of introspective reports and non-verbal measures, and the notion of a neural and computational correlate of consciousness. Questions will also be set on philosophical issues arising from aspects of the history of cognitive science and from areas of active research in cognitive science.
127. Philosophical Logic
Topics to be studied include: classical and non-classical propositional logic, modal propositional logic, deontic, epistemic and tense logic, counterfactuals, predicate logic and its extensions, and quantified modal logic. These topics shall be studied in conjunction with Theodore Sider's Logic for Philosophy, published by Oxford University Press. The logical symbols to be used are those found in this publication. This subject will be available in all Honour Schools involving Philosophy.
128. Practical Ethics
Topics to be studied include: animals, war (including terrorism and torture), collective agency and collective responsibility, punishment, race and gender, abortion (including prenatal injury and infanticide), causing people to exist (including some discussion of disability), reproductive technologies, genetic modification or enhancement, duties to aid (including effective altruism and issues involving numbers), euthanasia and assisted death, ethics of the market (including commodification of organs), consent in medical ethics (including advance directives), neuroethics, killing and letting die, and the relevance of intention to permissibility.
The availability of this paper may vary across the Philosophy joint schools, and candidates should consult regulations specific to their school to be sure of any conditions for taking the paper.
129. The Philosophy of Wittgenstein
This paper will cover the philosophical work of Wittgenstein.
130. Plato, Republic
Candidates will be expected to have read books I, IV
–VII, X in Greek (Slings Oxford Classical Text), and books II –III, VIII –IX in translation (Grube, revised Reeve, Hackett). There will be a compulsory question containing passages for translation and comment from the books read in Greek; any passages for comment from the remaining books will be accompanied by a translation.
131. Plato on Knowledge, Language
& Reality in the
Candidates will be expected to have read both dialogues in Greek (Duke
132. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics
Candidates will be expected to have read books I
–III, VI –VII, X in Greek (Bywater, Oxford Classical Text), and books IV –V, VIII –IX in translation (Irwin, Hackett second edition). There will be a compulsory question containing passages for translation and comment from the books read in Greek; any passages for comment from the remaining books will be accompanied by a translation.
133. Aristotle on Nature, Life and Mind (in Greek)
Candidates will be expected to have read Aristotle: (1) Physics, books II, III and IV in Greek (Ross, Oxford Classical Texts); (2) Parts of Animals I, in translation (Lennox, Clarendon commentary series), and (3) De Anima, I.1, II. 1-7, 9-12, III.1-5 in Greek (Ross, Oxford Classical Texts).
134. Knowledge and Scepticism in Hellensitic Philosophy (in Greek)
Candidates will be expected to have read: (1) in Greek, Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, I.1-39 and 164-241, II.1-204, III.1-81 and 168-281 (Bury, Loeb); (2) in translation, Cicero, Academic Books (Brittain, Hackett); (3) selections from The Hellenistic Philosophers (Long and Sedley, CUP), sections 1-3 (Pyrrho), 15-19 (Epicureans), 39-42 (Stoics), 68-70 (Academics) and 71-72 (Aenesidemus).
135. Latin Philosophy
Cicero: De Finibus III (Reynolds, Oxford Classical Text), De Officiis I in translation (Griffin and Atkins, Cicero, On Duties, Cambridge); Seneca, Epistulae Morales 92, 95, 121, De Constantia, De Vita Beata (Reynolds, Oxford Classical Text).
There will be a compulsory question containing passages for translation and comment from the texts read in Latin; any passages for comment from Cicero, De Officiis I will be accompanied by a translation.
136. Knowledge and Scepticism in Hellenistic Philosophy (in Latin)
Candidates will be expected to have read: (1) in translation, Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, I.1-39 and 164-241, II.1-204, III.1-81 and 168-281 (Annas and Barnes, CUP); (2) in Latin, Cicero, Academic Books (Rackham, Loeb); (3) The Hellenistic Philosophers (Long and Sedley, CUP), sections 1-3 (Pyrrho), 15-19 (Epicureans), 39-42 (Stoics), 68-70 (Academics) and 71-72 (Aenesidemus).
137. Plato on Knowledge, Language,
& Reality in the Theaetetus & Sophist (in translation)
Candidates will be expected to have read in translation both the Theaetetus (Levett revised Burnyeat, Hackett) and the Sophist (White, Hackett).
138. Aristotle on Nature, Life and Mind (in translation)
Candidates will be expected to have read Aristotle: (1) Physics, books II, III and IV in translation (Clarendon commentary series: Charlton for II, Hussey for III and IV); (2) Parts of Animals I, in translation (Lennox, Clarendon commentary series), and (3) De Anima, I.1, II. 1-7, 9-12, III.1-5 in translation (Shields, Clarendon commentary series).
139. Knowledge and Scepticism in Hellenistic Philosophy (in translation)
Candidates will be expected to have read: (1) in translation, Sextus Empiricus, Outlines of Pyrrhonism, I.1-39 and 164-241, II.1-204, III.1-81 and 168-281 (Annas and Barnes, CUP); (2) in translation, Cicero, Academic Books (Brittain, Hackett); (3) The Hellenistic Philosophers (Long and Sedley, CUP), sections 1-3 (Pyrrho), 15-19 (Epicureans), 39-42 (Stoics), 68-70 (Academics) and 71-72 (Aenesidemus).
As speciﬁed in the regulations for the Honour School of Jurisprudence. This subject may be offered only by candidates in PPE, and cannot be combined with either subject 114 or subject 203. Tutorial provision will be subject to the availability of Law tutors and will normally take place in either Hilary or Trinity Term.
198. Special Subjects
From time to time special subjects may be approved by the Undergraduate Studies Committee of the Faculty of Philosophy. Special subjects will be communicated to college tutors and to undergraduates by the end of the fifth week of Hilary Term one year before examination. The Undergraduate Studies Committee will (a) agree the method of assessment for each special subject offered, which may be by written paper, submitted essay and/or other method (b) forbid, where it sees fit, a combination of a special subject with other subjects (c) forbid, where it sees fit, candidates taking any particular special subject to answer certain questions on the papers for other subjects (d) place restrictions, where it sees fit, on the number of candidates that may take any special subject in any year. No candidate may offer more than one special subject. Subject to these qualifications, any candidate may offer any special subject.
The subject of every thesis should fall within the scope of philosophy. The subject may but need not overlap any subject on which the candidate offers papers. Candidates are warned that they should avoid repetition in papers of material used in their theses and that substantial repetition may be penalised. Every candidate shall submit for approval by the Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Faculty of Philosophy, c/o the Undergraduate Studies Administrator at Philosophy Centre, Radcliffe Humanities Building, Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6GG, the title he or she proposes, together with (a) an explanation of the subject in about 100 words; and (b) a letter of approval from his or her tutor, not earlier than the first day of the Trinity Full Term of the year before that in which he or she is to be examined and not later than Friday of the fourth week of the Michaelmas Full Term preceding his or her examination. (The date before which a proposal cannot be submitted is different in certain circumstances in the case of the Honour School of Philosophy and Modern Languages. See the regulations below for that honour school.) The Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Faculty of Philosophy shall decide as soon as possible whether or not to approve the title and shall advise the candidate immediately. No decision shall be deferred beyond the end of the fifth week of Michaelmas Full Term. If a candidate wishes to change the title, subject or focus of his or her thesis after his or her thesis proposal has already been approved by the body responsible: he or she should write to the Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Faculty of Philosophy, c/o the Undergraduate Studies Administrator, to seek approval. The Undergraduate Studies Administrator will inform the candidate whether the change to the thesis has been approved, and communicate any change, where approved, to the appropriate chair of examiners.
2. Authorship and origin
Every thesis shall be the candidate's own work. A candidate's tutor may, however, discuss with the candidate the field of study, the sources available, and the method of presentation; the tutor may also read and comment on drafts. The amount of assistance the tutor may give is equivalent to the teaching of a normal paper.
3. Length and format
No thesis shall exceed 15,000 words, or 20,000 words in the case of candidates for Part C of the Final Honour Schools of Computer Science and Philosophy, Mathematics and Philosophy, and Physics and Philosophy. This limit includes all notes and appendices but not including the bibliography; no person or body shall have authority to permit any excess, except that in Literae Humaniores, in a thesis consisting of commentary on a text, quotation from the text will not be counted towards the word limit. The word count should be indicated at the front of the thesis. There shall be a select bibliography or a list of sources. The front of the thesis should state the candidate
’s school and candidate number.
4. Submission of thesis
Every candidate shall submit the thesis, together with their declaration, not later than noon on Friday of the Week before the Trinity Full Term of the examination. The thesis should be uploaded as a PDF file to the
Assignments section of the Philosophy WebLearn site.
The following restrictions on combinations apply to candidates whatever their honour school:
(i) A candidate may not take both of subjects 106 and 124.
(ii) A candidate may not take both of subjects 115 and 130.
(iii) A candidate may not take both of subjects 116 and 132.
(v) Notwithstanding any contrary indication in these regulations, subjects 130 to 136 may be offered only by candidates in Classics and English, Classics and Modern Languages, Classics and Oriental Studies, Literae Humaniores, and Oriental Studies.
(vi) A candidate may not take both of subjects 110 and 111.
(vii) Except in the school of Mathematics and Philosophy, and Computer Science and Philosophy, and in part C of the schools of Physics and Philosophy, the paper(s) from part B of the Honour School of Mathematics in Set Theory and Logic may be taken, and will count as one Philosophy paper.
(viii) Whenever a new paper is introduced, the Faculty of Philosophy will publish, during the first academic year in which the paper is examined, a list of essay titles which the first cohort of candidates taking the new paper may offer for their extended essay, in those schools where they are required to offer an extended essay in addition to taking the written paper.
(ix) Whichever a candidate's honour school, where it is prescribed that he or she must take one or other of certain specified subjects and must take in addition some further subjects, a subject that is not chosen from among the specified ones may be chosen as a further subject.
Regulations for Particular Honour Schools
Computer Science and Philosophy / Mathematics and Philosophy / Physics and Philosophy Part C
Candidates for Part C of these Honour Schools, if taking any paper listed in these regulations with the exceptions of 198 and 199, shall be examined by an essay in addition to a three-hour written exam. The relative weight of the essay to the three-hour exam shall be 1 to 3, i.e. the essay shall count for 25% of the mark in that subject.
No essay shall exceed a word limit of 5,000 words, which includes all notes and appendices, but not the bibliography. The word count should be indicated on the front of the essay. There shall be a select bibliography or a list of sources. Candidates should avoid any substantial repetition of material between examination scripts and examination essays. The topic for a Philosophy examination essay in a given subject can be any question set for the most recent examination of that subject in Honour Schools with Philosophy, with the exception of questions which consist of multiple passages for comment (as in the commentary questions in Plato: Republic (115) and Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics (116)) or of questions of a mathematical or logical nature which do not permit of an essay-type answer (as in all questions on Philosophical Logic (127)). Candidates may apply for approval of other essay topics by writing to the Director of Undergraduate Studies, c/o The Undergraduate Studies Administrator, Philosophy Centre, Radcliffe Humanities Building, Woodstock Road, giving the title they propose, together with an explanation of the subject in about 100 words and enclosing a letter from their tutor attesting to the suitability of this topic for the candidate. This application may be made by email. Any such application must be received no later than Friday of the sixth week of the Hilary Term preceding the Part C examination for which the essay is to be submitted. Late applications will not be considered. Any such application shall be accepted or rejected by the Board within two weeks of its being received.
Each essay shall be the candidate's own work, though it should show knowledge of relevant literature in the subject and may include passages of quotation or paraphrase so long as these passages are clearly indicated as such and the source properly attributed. The candidate may discuss a first draft of the essay with his or her tutor for that subject. The amount of assistance the tutor may give shall be limited to what can be provided in one of the candidate's tutorials for their study of that subject. Each essay will require the candidate to make a declaration indicating that the essay is their own work.
In the event that any candidate is taking a paper for which no previous examination paper exists, or any paper (such as Philosophical Logic (127)) for which no questions on the examination are appropriate as essay topics, the Examiners shall publish, by Friday of the fourth week of the Hilary Full Term preceding the Part C examination, a list of essay titles which candidates taking the appropriate paper may offer for their extended essay.
The front of the thesis should state the candidate
’s school, the subject for which the essay is being submitted, and the candidate ’s candidate number.
Computer Science and Philosophy
See SPECIAL REGULATIONS FOR THE HONOUR SCHOOL OF COMPUTER SCIENCE AND PHILOSOPHY.
See also the regulations above for
The Honour School is divided into two Courses; for restrictions on entry to Course II, see the regulations under Honour School of Literae Humaniores. Candidates in either Course may offer any number of subjects in Philosophy up to five, or up to four if they are offering Second Classical Language in Course II. Any selection is permitted which conforms to the General Regulations above and also to (i)
(i) candidates offering one Philosophy subject only may offer any of the subjects listed above except 121 and 199.
(ii) candidates offering at least two Philosophy subjects must select at least one subject in ancient philosophy, i.e., one of 115, 116, and 130 to 139.
(iii) candidates offering subject 199, Thesis in Philosophy, may not offer any other thesis except a Special Thesis;
(iv) all candidates must offer at least four text-based subjects, not necessarily in Philosophy (or three if offering Second Classical Language in Course II);
(v) all candidates in Course I must offer at least one text-based subject in each of classical Greek texts and classical Latin texts, not necessarily in Philosophy.
Candidates may also offer a Special Thesis, which may be in Philosophy, in accordance with the regulations under Honour School of Literae Humaniores.
Mathematics and Philosophy
See SPECIAL REGULATIONS FOR THE HONOUR SCHOOL OF MATHEMATICS AND PHILOSOPHY.
See also the regulations above for
Philosophy and Modern Languages
Candidates are required to take one of the following subjects: 101, 115, 116. In addition to this subject, they must take two or three or four further subjects in Philosophy, depending upon whether the number of subjects they take in part II in Modern Languages is three or two or one. Further subjects in Philosophy must be chosen in conformity with the General Regulations.
Where subject 199 is taken, every candidate shall submit his or her application for approval of the subject not earlier than the first day of Trinity Full Term two years before the term of the written examination in the case of candidates planning to spend a year abroad.
Candidates who wish to offer all of papers 103 (Ethics), 116 (Nicomachean Ethics) and 128 (Practical Ethics) may only do so if also offering at least one other paper assessed by written examination in Philosophy.
Philosophy, Politics, and Economics
See SPECIAL REGULATIONS FOR THE HONOUR SCHOOL OF PHILOSOPHY, POLITICS, AND ECONOMICS
Philosophy and Theology
Physics and Philosophy
See SPECIAL REGULATIONS FOR THE HONOUR SCHOOL OF PHYSICS AND PHILOSOPHY.
See also the regulations above for
Psychology, Philosophy, and Linguistics
Candidates may take at most five subjects in Philosophy. All candidates must take eight subjects in total. Candidates may only take subjects in Psychology if they offer Psychology Parts I and II.
Candidates who take one subject in Philosophy may take any subject, except 121, in conformity with the General Regulations. Candidates who take two subjects in Philosophy must take at least one of 101, 102, 104, 108, 124 or 125. Those offering three or more Philosophy subjects must choose at least two from the above list. Their further subjects taken in Philosophy must be chosen in conformity with the General Regulations.