HFIK04061U FILO Forskningsfag filosofi

Årgang 2021/2022
Engelsk titel

FILO Research Subject Contemporary Philosophy


Kandidatuddannelsen i Filosofi, 2019-ordningen:

Forskningsfag filosofi:  HFIK04061E

Kandidattilvalg på filosofi, 2019-ordningen

Forskningsfag filosofi: HFIK14061E


Research Topic (MA course) on Identity, spring 2022

This course focuses on various aspects of identity of persons and groups of persons via three different approaches, namely history of philosophy, practical and theoretical philosophy.


History of Philosophy: Leo Catana

Plato on Human Nature and Political Participation

We read the third and last part of Plato’s dialogue Gorgias (481-527), which discusses ethical individuation entailed in political participation. Here, the protagonists Callicles and Socrates posit two diametrically opposed views about human nature and its ramifications for justice, political participation, and character formation. We discuss the following questions: (a) What is the role of habituation — entailed in political participation under various constitutional forms — to the formation of political virtues of the political participants themselves? (b) What is the relationship between the virtues of political leaders and the virtues of the persons thus led? (c) What is the respective ethical identity of Callicles, a would-be political leader, and Socrates, who apparently shuns political participation? (d) In the Gorgias, Socrates and Callicles present two competing theories of natural justice, which are both premised on a concept of human nature. However, their respective understanding of human nature differs, and so does their respective conceptions of justice. Why?


Compulsory reading (196 standard pages):

Plato, Gorgias, translation Donald G. Zeyl. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1985. We read 481b-527e, pp. 51-113 (57 sp.)

Balot, Ryan K. (2009). ‘Virtue Politics in Democratic Athens’, in The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Greek Political Thought, ed. Stephen Salkever. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 271-300 (38 sp).

Catana, Leo (2021). ‘Two Theories of Natural Justice in Plato’s Gorgias’: Elenchos (forthcoming, 2021) (23 sp)

Kamtekar, Rachana (2005). ‘The Politics of Plato’s Socrates’, in A Companion to Socrates, eds Rachana Kamtekar and Sara Ahbel-Rappe. Blackwell: West Sussex, 2005, pp. 214-227 (23 sp)

Monoson, Sara (2000), Plato’s Democratic Entanglements. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000, pp. 1-15 (17 sp)

Saxonhouse, Arlene W. (2009). ‘The Socratic Narrative: A Democratic Reading of Plato’s Dialogues’, Political Theory 37.6 (2009), pp. 728-53 (38 sp)

Supplementary reading:

Catana, Leo (2020). ‘Plato on Recognition of Political Leaders: The Importance of Mirrored Character Traits’: Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought 37.2, pp. 265-289 (29 sp).

Sørensen, Anders Dahl (2016). Plato on Democracy and Political technê. Brill: Boston, pp. 35-62 (40 sp).


Practical Philosophy: Nils Holtug

Moral and Political Significance of Personal and Social Identities


This module has two parts. The first part considers the importance of personal identity for a number of normative questions, such as whether identity is what matters in survival, whether and if so how identity is important for the badness of death, as well as the significance of identity for various questions in bioethics. The second part considers the significance of social identities, such as ones pertaining to nationality, race, gender, sexuality, etc., in politics, including for various issues that currently go under the label of ‘identity politics’.


196 standard pages, compulsory

Parfit, Derek, 1971. “Personal Identity”, Philosophical Review, 80/1, 3-27 (25 ns).


McMahan, Jeff. 1988. “Death and the Value of Life”, Ethics, 99/1, pp. 32-61, (30 ns).


Holtug, Nils. “Who Cares About Identity?”, in M. Roberts and D.T. Wasserman (eds.), Harming Future Persons. Ethics, Genetics and the Non-identity Problem, Dordrecht: Springer, pp. 71-92, (21 ns).


Miller, David. 2003. “In Defense of Nationality”, in D. Mattravers and J. Pike (eds.), Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy. An Anthology, London: Routledge, 301-318, (17 ns).


Holtug, Nils. 2021. “Identity Politics: A Primer” (Chapter 2 in book manuscript), pp. 1-36 (30 ns).


Fraser, Nancy. 2003. “Social Justice in the Age of Identity Politics: Redistribution, Recognition, and Participation”, in N. Fraser and A. Honneth, Redistribution or Recognition? A Political-Philosophical Exchange (New York: Verso), 7-42, (32 ns).


Lenard, Patti T., and Balint, Peter. 2020. “What is (the Wrong of) Cultural Appropriation?’, Ethnicities, 20/2: pp. 331-52, (18 ns).


Simpson, Robert M., and Srinivasan, Amia. 2018. “No Platforming”, in J. Lackey (ed.), Academic Freedom, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 186-209, (23 ns).


Supplementary readings:


Parfit, Derek. 1984. Reasons and Persons (Oxford: Clarendon Press), Part 3 (Personal Identity), pp. 199-347.


McMahan, Jeff. 2002. The Ethics of Killing (Oxford: Oxford University Press), Chs. 1-2, pp. 3-188.


Miller, David. 1995. On Nationality (Oxford: Clarendon Press).


Holtug, Nils. 2021. The Politics of Social Cohesion. Immigration, Community, and Justice (Oxford: Oxford University Press), Ch. 7 (Nationalism), pp. 197-220.


Kymlicka, Will. 1995. Multicultural Citizenship (Oxford: Oxford University Press).


Theoretical philosophy: Patricia Meindl


In this part of the course, we will approach the topic of identity from a phenomenological perspective. We will shed light on the question “Who am I?” by reading contemporary phenomenological texts engaging central ideas from Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre and Butler. What is common to these approaches is the idea that identity is not something to be observed from an impersonal ‘view from nowhere’ but is something that is experienced. Who we are cannot be disentangled from what we experience (Loidolt & Čapek 2021). During the course we will be concerned with the two different, but interrelated questions: (1) What conceptualization of identity is assumed in debates over identity politics? We will discuss this question by reading central sections in Linda Alcoff’s Visibile Identities. Against this background we will then (2) ask what is required for the constitution of identity. We will engage with contemporary phenomenological thinkers who emphasize the role of the body, of habits, of social interactions and group-membership for identity-formation.


Compulsory Readings (204 standard pages)


Alcoff, Linda Martín. Visible Identities: Race, Gender, and the Self. New York: Oxford University Press, 2006. Chapter 1: “The Pathologizing of Identity”, (12 ns), “The Philosophical Critique” (48-83) (54 ns), “Real Identities” (85-130) (67 ns)


Jacobs, Hanne. 2010. “Towards a Phenomenological Account of Personal Identity.” In Philosophy, Phenomenology, Sciences, edited by Carlo Ierna, Hanne Jacobs, and Filip Mattens, 333– 361. Dordrecht: Springer. (28 ns)


Wehrle, M. ‘Bodies (that) matter’: the role of habit formation for identity. Phenom Cogn Sci 20, 365–386 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11097-020-09703-0 (28 ns)


Carr, D. Personal identity is social identity. Phenom Cogn Sci 20, 341–351 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11097-020-09702-1 (15 ns)


Supplementary Reading


Čapek, J., Loidolt, S. Phenomenological approaches to personal identity. Phenom Cogn Sci 20, 217–234 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11097-020-09716-9


Crowell, S. On what matters. Personal identity as a phenomenological problem. Phenom Cogn Sci 20, 261–279 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11097-020-09695-x 


Čapek, J. Personal identity and the otherness of one’s own body. Cont Philos Rev52, 265–277 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11007-019-09465-w




Ved prøven kan den studerende demonstrere:


Viden om og forståelse af

  • problemer og argumenter i en afgrænset diskussion i aktuel forskningslitteratur i teoretisk filosofi, praktisk filosofi, eller i aktuel filosofihistorie.

Færdigheder i at

  • kontekstualisere aktuelle diskussioner i aktuel filosofi i forhold til klassiske filosofiske problemer.r


Kompetencer i at

  • deltage konstruktivt og kritisk i den aktuelle forskning, bl.a. ved at skrive korte forskningstekster.
Undervisningen består af forelæsninger eller holdundervisning, eller en kombination af disse, mundtlige øvelser og gruppediskussioner. Der vil være en ligelig fordeling af undervisningen mellem kursets tre fokusområder (teoretisk filosofi, praktisk filosofi og filosofihistorie).
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June 2022


August 2022

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