Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

The course explores key philosophical issues regarding the moral status of nature (individuals, species, ecosystems) and whether this status differs substantially from the status of humans. No less fundamental than the ethical issue is the ontological one regarding what nature is. This cannot be discussed independently of how a given culture understands (construes) nature, be it as spirited, sacred, inherently valuable or as soulless material, a reservoar of resources solely of instrumental value. Do humans
see themselves as a part of nature or as apart from nature? Particular
emphasis will be given to the significance of technology in shaping, both
philosophically and pragmatically, society's relationship with nature.

Learning outcome

Taking this course will enable the student to

  • attain systematic insight into the views of nature characteristic of Western culture; into the issue of the moral status of nature as a whole, of species and of individual exemplars; into the contrast - and debate - between anthropological and non-anthropological theories, especially deep
  • identify and assess the philosophical strengths and weaknesses of the major positions in contemporary environmental ethics.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

Only master degree students in philosophy can formally enroll, and take the course for credits. The 30-credits version of the course is available only for students who choose to write a MA-essay, FIL4091, instead of a Master's Thesis, FIL4090, and therefore need further 30 credits.


Recommended previous knowledge

FIL1003 – Etikk and FIL1001 – Innføring i metafysikk og bevissthetsfilosofi

Overlapping courses


14 double sessions with seminar. Active participation form all students will be expected.

When you write an essay, you are entitled to receive supervision from your teacher. This requires however that you hand in a draft within the deadline given by the teacher. If you choose not to hand in a draft, your loose your right to supervision.



A Master's essay of 25-50 pages à 2300 characters, literature list not included.  The essay is to be submitted in Fronter. The topic must be approved by the teacher.

In order for you to qualify for the final examination, all compulsory tuition activities must be approved by the teacher.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

Facts about this course






Every spring


Every spring

Teaching language

Norwegian (English on request)