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The University of Southampton

PHIL3035 Action, Reason and Ethics

Module Overview

The aims of this module are to explore some central issues about the relationship between action, reason, and ethics. Questions we shall consider may include: What is an action? What is it to act intentionally? What are reasons for action? Do all, some, or none of our reasons depend on our desires? Do moral considerations necessarily provide reasons for action, or is there sometimes most reason to be immoral? What is it to act for the right reasons? What makes our actions worthy of praise or blame?

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the issues raised by some of the above questions
  • demonstrate a solid grasp of the concepts and arguments that they involve
  • Relate the issues you explore in this module to those in other relevant modules.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • interpret, synthesise and criticise complex texts and positions.
  • present ideas clearly and carefully.
  • debate and criticise ideas and arguments in an even-handed fashion.
  • articulate and defend your own views regarding the issues the module concerns.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • undertake independent work, including identifying and using appropriate resources.
  • work effectively to deadlines.
  • contribute to discussion in a critical but dispassionate way.
  • express views clearly and concisely.


The syllabus for this module may vary from year to year. It may include topics such as: - The nature of intentional action - Reasons for action - The relationship between morality and rationality - The relationship between reasons and rationality - Praiseworthiness and blameworthiness

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include - Lectures - In-class discussion - One-on-one consultation with module co-ordinator Learning activities include - Attending classes - Contributing to class discussion - Doing independent research for and writing assessed essays

Preparation for scheduled sessions24
Completion of assessment task23
Follow-up work24
Wider reading or practice23
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Elijah Millgram (2002). Varieties of Practical Reasoning. 

Eric Wiland (2012). Reasons, Continuum. 

Nomy Arpaly (2002). Unprincipled Virtue. 

Michael Smith (1994). The Moral Problem. 

Julia Markovits (2014). Moral Reason. 



Draft essay


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 10%
Essay  (1500 words) 45%
Essay  (1500 words) 45%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment 10%
Essay  (1500 words) 45%
Essay  (1500 words) 45%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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