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 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 some of the major positions in contemporary environmental ethics.
  • demonstrate an overview of the changes in the philosophical way of perceiving nature, from Descartes and up till today.


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.

Students enrolled in other Master's Degree Programmes can, on application, be admitted to the course if this is cleared by their own study programme.

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


Recommended previous knowledge

FIL1003 – Etikk and FIL1001 – Innføring i metafysikk og bevissthetsfilosofi

Overlapping courses


You will be offered 14 double sessions which will be a combination of seminars and lectures, but you are not expected to attend all. You are however expected to participate actively in Canvas. The course has the following compulsory tuition activities:

  • You must post at least 6 critical questions regarding the week’s reading(s) every week, before the seminar takes place.

All compulsory tuition activities must be accepted as satisfactory in order for the student to qualify for the final exam.

This is how you apply for a valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance <>.


A term paper of approximately 5 pages/1900 words, excluding bibliography. The topic must be approved by the teacher. You submit your essay in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response either in English or in Norwegian.

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