PHIL20620 Philosophy of Social Science

Academic Year 2022/2023

This module links the three elements of PPE by considering the nature of social science generally, looking in particular at the question of whether Economics and Political Science should be thought of as sciences at all. We will investigate the concept of utility based on preference theory that is employed in Welfare Economics, and we will ask whether the economic conception of rationality based on maximization of expected utility makes sense. We will also consider social ontology (the nature of social reality), social epistemology and epistemic injustice. In the second half of the course the focus switches to aspects of social and political philosophy.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On successful completion of the module students will:
(i) have an understanding of the central ideas in the philosophy of social science;
(ii) have a philosophical understanding of some fundamental ideas used in Economics and in Social/Political Theory;
(iii) be able to develop their own arguments about how to employ these fundamental ideas;
(iv) be able to express these arguments in a clear, coherent and well-informed way.

Indicative Module Content:

Philosophy of Economics; Utility; Rational Choice Theory; Moral Hazard; Social Science methodology; Authority; Recognition; Autonomy.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures; tutorials; independent learning in preparation for essays and exams. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Additional Information:
This module is only available for stage 2 PPE students.

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: 1500 word essay on first half of the module Week 6 n/a Graded No


Essay: 1500 word essay on second half of the course Week 12 n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn No
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Group/class feedback, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback on the first essay is provided in the form of comments and a grade within two weeks of the submission deadline. Feedback on the second essay is provided in the same way at the very end of the module.

Name Role
Professor Maeve Cooke Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Mr John McGuire Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Ranier Abengana Tutor
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Fri 13:00 - 13:50
Lecture Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 31, 32, 33 Thurs 14:00 - 14:50
Tutorial Offering 1 Week(s) - 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31 Thurs 13:00 - 13:50
Tutorial Offering 2 Week(s) - 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31 Thurs 15:00 - 15:50
Tutorial Offering 3 Week(s) - 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31 Wed 15:00 - 15:50