The Dutch Research School of Philosophy (OZSW) and Leiden University invite PhD candidates and Research Master students in philosophy to register for the course Metaethics: Moral Objectivity to take place on 22, 29 October + 5, 12, 19, 26 November + 10, 17 December, 2021.
P.J. Veth building, Leiden University
Type of activity
Type of activity
For this activity PhD students and ReMa students can – after successful completion – earn a certificate. However, the OZSW is not accredited to reward students with credits/ECTS directly. The study load is mentioned on the certificate, which can usually be exchanged for ‘real’ credits (ECTS) at your home university. The study load for this activity is as follows: 3 ECTS.
Primary target group
If places available, also open to
15 september 2021
About the topic
This is a course on moral objectivity; roughly, the idea that moral judgments are true or correct, if they are, independently of what (individual) agents may think about their truth or correctness. We explore how the notion of moral objectivity shapes the landscape of contemporary metaethical theories, we study the various ways in which some of these theories understand the objectivity of morals, and we assess these theories’ strengths and weaknesses. The theories that we discuss in detail are: realism, expressivism, Kantian and contractarian constructivism, relativism and the error theory. We study, among other ideas, moral objectivity as standpoint-independence (realism), as standpoint-invariance (constructivism), as a major source of the sceptical claim that morality is a myth (error theory) and as not even a desideratum for moral judgments to begin with (relativism).
Aim / objective
Students who successfully complete this course can:
- understand the notion of moral objectivity and the (important) role that it plays in contemporary metaethical theories;
- describe the following metaethical theories, including their strengths and weaknesses: realism, expressivism, Kantian and contractarian constructivism, relativism and the error theory;
- explain how these theories understand moral objectivity;
- formulate their own views on (some of) these theories and on moral objectivity in a written paper and in an oral presentation.
Session 1A. The landscape of contemporary metaethics & What is the objectivity of morals?
Lecturers: Wouter Kalf (Leiden) & Jeroen Hopster (Twente)
Date: Oct 22
Session 1B. Moral realism and the objectivity of ethics
Lecturer: Sabine Roeser (Delft)
Date: Oct 29
Session 2: Expressivism
Lecturer: Christine Tiefensee (Frankfurt)
Date: Nov 5
Session 3: Kantian Constructivism
Lecturer: Janis Schaab (Groningen)
Date: Nov 12
Session 4: Contractarian Constructivism
Lecturer: Bruno Verbeek (Leiden)
Date: Nov 19
Session 5: Moral Relativism
Lecturer: Daan Evers (Groningen)
Date: Nov 26
Session 6: Moral Error Theory
Lecturer: Bart Streumer (Groningen)
Date: Dec 10
Session 7: Presentations
Lecturers: Wouter Kalf (Leiden) & Bruno Verbeek (Leiden)
Date: 17 December
Wouter Kalf (Leiden)
Jeroen Hopster (Twente)
Sabine Roeser (Delft)
Christine Tiefensee (Frankfurt)
Janis Schaab (Groningen)
Bruno Verbeek (Leiden)
Daan Evers (Groningen)
Bart Streumer (Groningen)
Students are required to attend all classes, to do the required readings before coming to class, to actively participate in class, to write a final paper and to give a presentation on their final paper on the last day of the course.
Certificate / credit points
For this course PhD students and ReMa students can earn a certificate after successful completion. Please note, however, that the OZSW is not accredited to reward students with credits/ECTS directly. The study load is mentioned on the certificate, which can usually be exchanged for ‘real’ credits (ECTS) at your home university. For more info please see https://www.ozsw.nl/request-certificate/.
The study load for this activity is specified as follows:
1. Attending the course and writing a short paper (3,000 words, excluding bibliography) after the course (submission deadline: 31 December 2021): 2 EC. Papers are not graded but assessed by the organisers (Kalf and Verbeek) as follows: sufficient or insufficient.
2. Simple attendance, including preparation by reading the assigned literature and participation in the discussions: 1 EC.
Coffee and tea included; one lunch included.
OZSW members: free
Non-OZSW members: 300 Euros
Please register here.
Wouter Kalf & Bruno Verbeek (Leiden University)