How ought we to live? What makes certain actions and practices morally wrong, morally permissible, or even morally required? How do we solve the moral dilemmas we face in life? These are the kind of questions that moral philosophers seek to answer.
In this topic, we will be looking at the work of some of the most influential British moral philosophers. Our main focus will be on the 19th Century thinker John Stuart Mill. Mill is known not just for his work in moral philosophy, but also for his efforts in promoting free speech, liberty, women's rights, and other political and moral causes. We will look at Mill's life and his main contribution to moral philosophy: his version of Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism is an ethical theory which, roughly stated, says that we ought to do what will produce the greatest amount of happiness for all affected beings.
Although utilitarian thinking has been very influential, it is also controversial. The theory has radical and uncomfortable implications regarding how we ought to live our lives, what we can eat, what we should spend our money on, what obligations we have to those living in poverty, what sexual acts are morally permissible, and many other practical issues. We will look at some of the main objections to Utilitarianism, and then examine how Mill and others have attempted to address them. Is Utilitarianism still a plausible theory or is it too problematic? Is Mill's version of Utilitarianism an improvement on that of earlier thinkers, such as Jeremy Bentham? These are just some of the questions you will consider. We will also examine some alternative ethical theories offered by other British moral philosophers.
Join us for a summer of British culture and explore our world-leading research.
When you join the International Summer School 2018, you will study up to six exciting topics across the four weeks you are with us. Each topic is delivered by an internationally-recognised member of academic staff at the University of Southampton working in partnership with one of our many enthusiastic postgraduate research students. Across three engaging and interactive classroom sessions, they will introduce you to their topic of choice, explaining why it is important to them and offering you an insight into the world-class research environment they work in.
You will find each topic is a friendly and engaging experience: you will normally study in groups with around 15 – 20 fellow students, allowing you to form good working relationships and have the opportunity to contribute and discuss in class.
Each topic includes a guided trip or excursion to an important cultural site which is relevant to the studies you are undertaking, helping you to put the knowledge you have gained into a real-world context.
You will receive supporting materials in advance of the topic so you can feel well-prepared and you will be provided with a pack of information so you can continue to explore the topic and develop your interest afterwards.
At the end of the course, all students will receive a certificate of attendance. You can choose to complete the assessed exercises for the International Summer School. If you complete the assessments, you will receive a transcript from the University of Southampton worth 5 ECTS credits. The assessments will test your engagement and understanding of each topic you choose to study, and confirm that you have engaged with the cultural experience of joining us at Southampton. Though subject to confirmation, it is likely this include a multiple choice test, completing a reflective log, and taking part in a group presentation. You should speak with your university to confirm that the ECTS credits can count towards your studies at your home university.
Availability and Choice
The topics available on the summer school are indicative of rich and varied curriculum you will engage with at Southampton. Due to timetabling constraints, some topics will not be available in combination with each other. To ensure a positive experience, spaces on each topic will be limited and places allocated on a first-come-first-served basis after receipt of deposit and response to request for information. No commitment can be made that a particular topic will be available; if you have particular concerns about this, please get in touch using the contact information provided.