Progress in Philosophy

7.5 credits

Syllabus, Master's level, 5FP115

Education cycle
Second cycle
Main field(s) of study and in-depth level
Practical Philosophy A1N
Grading system
Fail (U), Pass (G), Pass with distinction (VG)
Finalised by
The Department Board, 27 February 2023
Responsible department
Department of Philosophy

Entry requirements

120 credits, or equivalent, including 60 credits in philosophy, aesthetics, musicology, literature or art history. Proficiency in English equivalent to the Swedish upper secondary course English 6.

Learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course, students should be able to:

  • give an informed account of the most important aspects and approaches in the contemporary discussion about progress in philosophy
  • give an informed account of a number of alternative views on or measures regarding what is to be classified as progress in philosophy
  • reconstruct the most important arguments that have been put forward in support of optimistic and pessimistic views, respectively, about the amount of progress that has been or is being made in philosophy and make an independent evaluation of those arguments
  • explain which implications the debate about progress in philosophy plausibly has for questions about which type of expertise it may be reasonable to ascribe to philosophers and about similarities and differences between philosophy and other academic disciplines.


Is there progress in philosophy? This question is raised by the apparent lack of convergence that many philosophical areas manifest, including ethics and metaphysics. The theories that have dominated the discussions in those areas still have able advocates in spite of increasingly sophisticated arguments and method. Whether that state of affairs rules out that progress in philosophy is or has been made is one of the issues that shall be addressed. A number of alternative views on what would count as progress in philosophy will be discussed, as well as which relevance the question of progress in philosophy has for the type of expertise philosophers can make claims to and to the issue of how philosophy differs from other academic disciplines.


Lectures. The lecture-style will be thoroughly interactive. Students are expected to prepare, participate and contribute.


Class participation and a 3500-word essay at the end of the course on a topic which is approved by the teacher.

If there are special reasons for doing so, an examiner may make an exception from the method of assessment indicated and allow a student to be assessed by another method. An example of special reasons might be a certificate regarding special pedagogical support from the University's disability coordinator.

Other directives

The course may run jointly with the first cycle course 5FP116.

The course may also run jointly with a PhD course. The assessment of PhD students is based upon class participation and a 4500-word essay at the end of the course on a topic which is approved by the teacher.