HUM-478 / 3 credits

Teacher: Pé-Curto Alain Daniel

Language: English

Remark: Une seule inscription à un cours SHS+MGT autorisée. En cas d'inscriptions multiples elles seront toutes supprimées sans notification.


Most of us aspire to live meaningful lives. Yet, many of us would struggle to explain what a meaningful life is. This course provides philosophical tools and frameworks useful to understand our aspiration for meaning.



Mind, self, transformation, transformative decision, personal choice, mental corruption, meaning, core preferences, preference aggregation, empathy for others, empathy for future selves.


Ethics, moral philosophy, value, values, core values, instrumental value, intrinsic value, final value, personal value, impersonal value, norms, incommensurability, incomparability, parity, normative powers.


Emotion, affect, mood, sentiments, valence, emotion appropriateness, being moved, being struck by value.


Learning Prerequisites

Required courses


Recommended courses

After completing this course, students must take the Master's Project seminar HUM-479 Emotion and Value II in Spring 2023-24.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the course, the student must be able to:

  • Autonomously read and analyze complex text.
  • Defend a claim or point of view effectively with arguments, including logical reasoning, counterexamples, and thought experiments in oral and written form.
  • Write a paper instantiating the philosophical values of clarity and concision.
  • Establish a reference list for an article in an accepted standard format.
  • Evaluate arguments and claims. Detect flaws in argumentation, nonsense, and what Harry Frankfurt calls "bullshit".
  • Develop effective examples to illustrate ideas.
  • Guide and structure a discussion involving opposing views.
  • Distinguish between philosophical/a priori questions and empirical/ a posteriori questions.
  • Distinguish between philosophical/a priori and empirical/a posteriori argumentative strategies
  • Identify meaning (e.g., goals and missions) for individuals and organizations more effectively.
  • Problem-solve in new and creative ways.
  • Autonomously read and analyze complex text.

Teaching methods

For Semester 1, see below. For Semester 2, see HUM-479 Emotion and Value II.


Structure of sessions


Hour 1 and 2: Lectures; active discussion of the reading assignments and course materials.


During Hour 1 and 2, students are encouraged to participate actively by asking questions, raising objections, and defending their own views. Moreover, depending on classroom dynamics, the instructor may adapt the structure of Hours 1 and 2: for instance, the instructor may ask students to brainstorm reading assignments and course materials in groups before lecturing in order to foster student participation in classroom discussions. Mandatory readings will not exceed 20 pp. per week, but students must present to class having completed the readings.


Hour 3: Supervised research in groups and individually; work towards assignments for Semester 1 and for the Master's Project to be submitted by the end of Semester 2.


Students will form small groups of ca. 5* people and choose one topic based on the list annexed to the syllabus published at the beginning of Semester 1. Each group must select a different topic. If necessary, the instructor may form groups or assign topics based on a fair method (such as drawing lots).




A. Writing assignment prepared in groups and individually (maximum of 3 pages).


(i) Group work on 2 pages: Reflection and research for the development of an abstract (i.e., roughly, a summary of the envisaged Master's Project, maximum of 1 page) and an outline (maximum of 1 page).


(ii) Individual work on 1 page: Reflection and research for the development of a personal addendum (1 page maximum) to the abstract and outline prepared in groups. The personal addendum allows every student to complement the work submitted as a group with a personal contribution (e.g., by addressing something left out in the group work or by presenting an argument of their own). Importantly, the personal addendum may concur with or dissent from the views defended in the writing assignment prepared as a group.


Both (i) and (ii) above constitute the writing assignment for Semester 1 and help prepare the Master's Project due by the end of Semester 2.


B. Chairing of one philosophical discussion (ca. 30 minutes)


(i) Group work in preparation for the chairing of a ca. 30-minute class discussion: Each group will be in charge of chairing and guiding a class discussion during one session of Semester 1. The instructor will assign sessions and topics at the beginning of the semester based on a fair method.


*The instructor may reasonably adapt the format of the groups and of the assignments depending on the needs of enrolled students.

Expected student activities

For Semester 1, see below. For Semester 2, see HUM-479 Emotion and Value II.


ECTS 3 credits for Semester 1: ca. 75-90 hours workload (i.e., roughly 3 hours in the classroom and 3 hours outside the classroom)


Semester 1: mandatory reading assignments, active participation in class discussions (or equivalent to be determined with the instructor if attendance is impossible), chairing and guiding of one class discussion; in-class supervised research, discussion chairing preparation, and writing; additional research, discussion chairing preparation, and writing outside the classroom.

Assessment methods

For Semester 1, see below. For Semester 2, see HUM-479 Emotion and Value II.


(i) Written exam on class materials and mandatory readings during the last session of the semester (2 hours, 50% of the grade for Semester 1).


The first hour of the last session will consist of a "Stress and Cookies" tutoring session. Students will have the opportunity to ask any questions remaining before the exam, enjoy cookies, and use any time left to finish preparing for the exam. The two following hours will consist of the written exam.


(ii) Group abstract and outline, plus personal addendum (maximum of 3 pages in total, 30%).


This grade is attributed individually based on an assessment of the work submitted as a group and individually. The personal addendum is partly meant to ensure and check that all group members contribute fairly to the group work.

(iii) Chairing of one philosophical discussion and general participation in class (20%)


Office hours No
Assistants No
Forum No


Virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI)



The references provided here will be available at the library. They are *not* mandatory readings. However, they constitute excellent complements to the course materials. The list of mandatory readings will be published at the beginning of Semester 1.


If needed, additional pointers to references useful for the group and individual assignments will be communicated after groups are formed and topics selected.


(A) Three relatively short books on emotion, value, and transformative experience:


Deonna, J. A. & Teroni, F. 2012. The Emotions: A Philosophical Introduction. Abingdon, Oxon and New York: Routledge.


Orsi, F. 2015. Value Theory. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic.


Paul, L. A. 2014. Transformative Experience. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.


(B) A short introduction to the philosophical method in general (not specific to the topics covered in the course).


Williamson, T. 2020. Philosophical Method: A Very Short Introduction. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.


(C) Two longer books on value, value relations, and hard choices:


Chang, R. 2014. Making Comparisons Count. Abingdon, Oxon and New York: Routledge.

Rønnow-Rasmussen, T. 2021. The Value Gap. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ressources en bibliothèque


Course materials will be available starting from the beginning of the semester on Moodle (see link below).


The video links provided below are indicative only. It is not mandatory to watch the relevant videos, but students may do so to discover some of the questions and topics that the course will cover.

Moodle Link


In the programs

  • Semester: Fall
  • Number of places: 60
  • Exam form: During the semester (winter session)
  • Subject examined: Emotion and value I
  • Lecture: 2 Hour(s) per week x 14 weeks
  • Project: 1 Hour(s) per week x 14 weeks

Reference week


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