Inquiry, Science, and Democracy: The Philosophy of Susan Stebbing PHIL4068

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

Susan Stebbing, the first woman to be a professor of philosophy in the United Kingdom, was a central figure in early analytic philosophy. Stebbing developed important contributions in theoretical subjects such as philosophy of language, epistemology, and metaphysics, but also applied these theories to practical problems in her work on critical thinking, popular physics, and politics. This course will introduce students to both sides of her philosophy and show that even rigorous theoretical philosophy can affect one's life outside of the classroom.  


16x1hr lectures, 4x1hr seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in Philosophy and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into Philosophy, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses





Essay 1 (2500 words) - 50%

Essay 2 (2500 words) - 50%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:


■ Introduce students to the major themes in the philosophy of Susan Stebbing in their historical setting.

■ Provide students the opportunity to apply abstract philosophical theories to real world problems, including the communication of scientific results and the assessment of political arguments.

■ Develop core philosophical skills of historical reconstruction, argumentation, and philosophical analysis.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to: 


■ Explain the major theories developed in the work of Susan Stebbing in their historical context. 

■ Identify obstacles to clear thinking resulting from compressed or emotionally toned language in political discussion and in the communication of scientific results. 

■ Produce sustained written arguments evaluating different notions of philosophical analysis. 

■ Critically analyse different views of communication as developed in the works of Stebbing and her contemporaries. 

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.