Upper Intermediate Philosophy: The Philosophy of Risk – Online

Mary Ward Centre
Course summary
112 GBP excl. VAT
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Course description

Upper Intermediate Philosophy: The Philosophy of Risk – Online

To be alive is to be in the midst of risk. We make decisions all the time regarding what likely outcomes might be, the probability of something happening, and what we value enough to risk doing it or defending it. We can risk all kinds of things disappointment, reputation, time-investment, our health, even our life. Risk raises all kinds of questions that touch on different aspects of philosophy epistemology, philosophy of science, social science, morality and the philosophy of economics (including behavioural economics) amongst them.

Only rarely do we have a firm grasp on probability (think of coin-tossing/dice-throwing: most situations we encounter lack this level of information), and as such we understand that uncertainty is a fact of life. Nevertheless it is possible to have a clearer account of not only the concepts associated with risk among them, probability, outcome, information, error, intentional and unintentional risk exposure, consent, and so on but also to become clearer on the stakes of risk in contemporary life.

In the wake of the pandemic in which the question of risk was posed very directly, globally, nationally and personally, now is a perfect time to get clearer on all aspects of the philosophy of risk.

Suitability - Who should attend?

This course is at Upper Intermediate level and so would not be suitable for people who are new to studying philosophy. It would be an ideal continuation course for students who have previously studied on our Intermediate level courses and who now want a course that will look at the work of a particular philosopher in some depth. It may also be suitable for people who have had some previous grounding in Philosophy and who now want to study in more depth.

Although you should have some previous experience of studying philosophy it is not expected that you need to have a great deal of familiarity with the philosophy of risk as this is what the course will aim to provide.

Outcome / Qualification etc.

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

  • Explain key concepts in the philosophy of risk, including probability, outcome, error, information, intentional and unintentional risk exposure, consent
  • Recognise the are covered by the philosophy of risk, and be able to discuss and debate the strengths and weaknesses of arguments relating to risk
  • Relate concepts, ideas an arguments from the philosophy of risk to philosophy more broadly, but also to everyday life.

Training Course Content

The course will provide a comprehensive introduction to the philosophy of risk. It will examine the topic from a variety of different philosophical perspectives that will in turn operate as a way into understanding broader philosophical areas and questions.

In this regard over twelve weeks, we will come at the question of risk from different angles: as a question knowledge, as a question of morality, as a question of behaviour, as a question of calculation and so on. Towards the end of the course we will look at more real-life situations of risk and risk-taking, including questions concerning health (and the relation between individual and collective health), and where responsibility for risk lies politically.

Among the authors covered will be: Immanuel Kant, Daniel Kahneman, Robert Nozick, John Rawls, Michel Foucault, Amartya Sen, Ulrich Beck, Deborah Lupton.

Course delivery details

The course will be run online using Zoom for the live class sessions and either the Moodle page for the course or some other system for the distribution of the electronic resources for the session sitting alongside this. Although there will be some adjustments that need to be made for the online version of this course, we will aim to keep the experience as close as possible to that of a face to face course taught in the Centre.


  • Full fee: £112
  • Concession fee: £39

Continuing Studies

What this course could lead to

Other Advanced level Philosophy courses at the Mary Ward Centre or other similar establishments. Or, other courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences with a strong emphasis on theory and the study of the mind and human behaviour (e.g., Psychology, Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, History). The course will correspond well with the Mary Ward course on Political Philosophy, pitched at the same level, which will take place on the same day and time the following term.

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Mary Ward Centre

The first thing you will notice about the Mary Ward Centre is the stunning Georgian building, in the peaceful surroundings of Queen Square. An adult education centre with a difference, whatever you want to learn, you’ll find it here. From...

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Mary Ward Centre

42 Queens Square
WC1N 3AQ London

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