(cross-listed with 4th year course PHIL402)
R. Kumar Fall Term
What is it for one person to morally wrongs another? Is it a mistake of some kind not to care whether one wrongs others? Can we hold others responsible for wronging us, and if so, what does that involve? Do the intentions with which a person acts make a difference to whether he has wronged another? T.M. Scanlon subtly explores these, and other questions, in his books, What We Owe to Each Other and Moral Dimensions. Together, they articulate the most important systematic non-consequentialist account of morality currently on offer. We will discuss both books in this seminar, with the aim of understanding the unity of Scanlon's account of moral reasoning.
K. Gordon-Solmon Fall Term
In this course, we will explore, in some depth, a range of issues in the ethics of procreation. Topics will include abortion, assisted reproductive technologies, parental virtue, and the obligations of society toward those who bear and care for children. This course will be organized in three parts. In the first, introductory, part of the course, we will investigate three discrete topics in succession: the morality of abortion, surrogacy and egg donation and its relation to issues such as organ donation and sales, and reproductive cloning. In the second part of the course, we will focus on the duties that parents incur when they choose to have children. Do parents have a general, pro tantoobligation to provide their children with the best available life prospects, and if so, what particular obligations does this ential? If not, then what duties do parents have toward their children? We will consider these questions with respect to both existing children and future children. We will examine, in particular, the ethics of conception and embryonic selection, especially in relation to the non-identity problem, genetic enhancement, and parental virtue. In the third and final part of the course we will turn to political philosophy. In particular, we will consider the obligations of society to those who bear and raise children.
Evaluation will be based on one seminar presentation (20%), a submitted final paper question and prospective bibliography (5%), and a final paper (75%).
(cross-listed with 4th year course PHIL405)
C. Sypnowich Fall Term
The Egalitarian Conscience
This is a course about the concept of equality in light of the philosophical contribution of the late G.A. Cohen, who until recently was the Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory at All Souls College, Oxford. One of the most original, incisive and influential political philosophers of our time, Cohen has left a corpus of work vital to the flourishing of the discipline.
It might be said that equality is something everyone believes in; virtually all political philosophies across the spectrum claim to be egalitarian, be it in their insistence on individuals' equal rights to liberty and property or the importance of redistributing wealth more equally. We are all egalitarians now, we can proclaim, in the rather triumphalist mood that characterised many commentaries on the occasion of the millenium. However, the concept of equality has also been challenged by a number of factors: the collapse of the Soviet Union and societies of 'state socialism'; the rise of right-wing critiques of the welfare state, and controversy within egalitarian debate itself.
Cohen's intellectual career, shaped by personal conviction and philosophical commitment, has confronted and illuminated many of these challenges. This course looks at the idea of equality in light of contemporary debates , drawing on the work of Cohen, the philosophical context of his work and recent interpretations of his ideas, including the instructor's recent work, both published essays and an excerpt from her manuscript 'Equality Renewed' which is to a significant extent inspired by Cohen's contribution.
Texts: 1. Sypnowich, Christine (ed.) The Egalitarian Conscience: Essays in Honour of G.A. Cohen (Oxford University Press 2006)
2. Articles to be distributed electronically
3. Chapters from G.A. Cohen, Rescuing Justice and Equality (Harvard U.P., 2008)
Course structure: This is a seminar, so it is imperative that students come to class prepared to talk about the course material. The first couple of classes will be structured around lectures given by the instructor, with discussion. Thereafter classes will be structured around students' comment sheets to prompt discussion. Comment sheets consist of a two-page, double-spaced short paper that sets out and analyses one or both of the readings. Students should be prepared to discuss the comment sheet with the class. Comment sheets will be submitted at the end of the class to be marked.
Assessment: 50% based on the best five of six comment sheets; 50% based on the final essay.
A. Macleod Fall Term
Distributive Justice. An exploration of some central questions of distributive justice. Topics (with sample questions within brackets): The Domain of Distributive Justice (How are judgments about just conduct, just institutions , and just states of affairs related?) Justice and Law (Is consistency in the application of unjust laws a form of justice?) Distributive Justice and the Market (Can meaningful judgments of justice be made about market-determined distributions of wealth, power and opportunity?) Distributive Justice and Utilitarianism (Is there a viable utilitarian perspective on issues of distributive justice?) Justice and Rights (What role do considerations of distributive justice play in the justification of rights?) Justice and Libertarianism (How far is the voluntariness of the transactions to which individuals and groups are parties the key to justice in society?) Justice and Democracy (What is the relationship between just institutional arrangements and institutional arrangements that receive democratic endorsement?) Justice and Contractarianism (What light do hypothetical contract arguments throw on the nature of justice?) Justice and Equality (Could equality of opportunity be all that justice requires?) Justice and Incentives (Is there an objection from the standpoint of justice to incentive-providing economic inequalities?) Justice and Desert (What contribution do notions of desert or merit make to our understanding of what is involved in treating people fairly?) Justice and Efficiency (Are justice and efficiency competing values, subject to trade-off? Liberty and Equality (Does justice call for the claims of liberty and equality to be balanced?).
Discussion will be based on handouts and on selections from books and articles. Members of the class will be required to submit short weekly comment sheets on assigned topics and readings. Some agreed proportion of these will be worth 50% of the final grade. The other 50% will be allocated on the basis of a term-paper.
"Liberal Democracy and Ethnocultural Diversity"
(Cross-listed with 4th year course PHIL 407)
W. Kymlicka Fall Term
This course will examine recent debates about the relationship between liberal democracy and the claims of ethnocultural groups. In the past, most Western liberal-democratic states adopted policies that attempted to either assimilate or exclude ethnic minorities. In the past forty years, however, we have seen a significant change in attitudes, and a movement towards greater recognition and accommodation of ethnic diversity – a trend that is often described as the rise of “multiculturalism”. But what is the relationship between liberal-democratic values and multiculturalism? Defenders of multiculturalism often argue that the recognition of ethnocultural diversity is fully consistent with liberal values of freedom and equality, and indeed contributes to their fuller realization. Critics argue that multiculturalism jeopardizes these core values. In this course, we will examine this debate both at the theoretical level and in relation to a number of specific cases, including claims raised by immigrant groups, substate national minorities, and indigenous peoples, both in Canada and around the world. Issues to be discussed include the relationship between cultural membership and individual freedom; the relationship between individual rights and group rights; the role of religion in a secular state; the relationship between multiculturalism and feminism; the definition of citizenship, popular sovereignty and self-determination; and the rectification of historical injustices.
(cross-listed with 4th year course PHIL 420)
U. Schuklenk Fall Term
This course has run successfully for a number of years. Our schedule in terms of topics will be discussed and jointly decided on during our first class. It is imperative that you think carefully about the question of what bioethical issues you'd like to work on during this course. I will cover the first few weeks in terms of seminar presentations to ensure that you will have sufficient time to prepare your own presentation on the topic of your choice. Topics typically covered include global health ethics, human enhancement, international research ethics, end-of-life decisions, as well as many others. There is no required textbook for this course. A reading list consisting mostly of journal articles will be distributed prior to our second class. It will be your responsibility to source those articles via the University Library. I will ensure that each required journal article will be accessible to you.
The success of this course depends on you reading the required readings prior to each class. This will be reflected in the grading scheme, it emphasizes three components: class participation, the quality and style of your presentation and your final paper. I do not monitor attendance, however, a rigorous system monitoring your class participation will be in place.
You are strongly encouraged to contact me during the summer to discuss possible topics of interest. I can be reached at email@example.com .
C. Overall Winter Term
Topic: Issues in Procreative Ethics
This course explores some contemporary ethical and social policy questions concerning human procreation. Feminist and non-feminist perspectives on these issues will be discussed. Possible topics include the following:
In this course there will be an emphasis on class discussion and on the development and refinement of philosophical writing skills. Readings will be drawn from contemporary anthologies and from online philosophy journals.
J. Miller Winter Term
The goal of this course is to gain exposure to what is undoubtedly the most important work in the history of philosophical ethics, Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. The N.E. consists of ten books. We will read one book per week. In addition to the primary source, we will also read one secondary source per week. As a result, by the end of the course, we will have read all of the N.E. plus a number of important commentaries on it. While there will be many issues that we will have to leave un- or under-explore, students will at least be exposed to the entirety of the N.E. and so hopefully be prepared for further study of it down the road.
(Cross-listed with 4th year course PHIL445)
Mark Smith Winter Term
Descartes is famous for developing a dualist thesis about the human person. But what usually gets ignored is that he later (more or less) rejected radical dualism and developed a very intersting theory of the whole, integrated human person, which he expressed in his last book, The Passions of the Soul (1649). He was inspired to work on this question by his correspondence with Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, and so we will also read their exciting and fascinating letters to each other. We will discover a Descartes who fruitfully explores questions of mind-body interaction, ethics, psychological and philosophical therapy, happiness, emotion, and the good life.
Descartes, The Passions of the Soul and various other writings
Descartes & Princess Elisabeth, Correspondence
A selection of contemporary writers
Some combination of comment sheets, seminar presentations, and a final research paper.
(cross-lised with 4th year course in PHIL446)
P. Fairfield Fall Term
This seminar examines Martin Heidegger's Being and Time, which we shall read in its entirety, followed by hisDiscourse on Thinking. Topics include phenomenology and hermeneutics, temporality, art, language, death, Heidegger's conception of "thinking," and the distinction between Being and beings. Assessment will be based on one essay and one seminar presentation.
(Cross-listed with 4th year course PHIL452)
H. Laycock Fall Term
Analytical metaphysics in the 20th and 21st Centuries is heavily influenced by logical ideas stemming from the work of Frege, and increasingly too by developments in the field of Linguistics. Among the most influential philosophers in this tradition is Quine, with his famous semi-mathematical maxim 'To be is to be the value of a variable'. But there are opposing and more traditional currents going back to the process-philosophy of Whitehead and also to the philosophy of ancient Greece, especially the 'hylomorphic' thought of Aristotle. This is a course in modern analytical metaphysics, including ontology, but we will be situating contemporary approaches in a broader context. Among the questions to be addressed is the question of the nature of metaphysics itself, as it is currently conceived. Again, what is a metaphysical category? How is metaphysics related to logic, and what is the status of logic anyway? What is an object? What (if anything) is a universal? What is mereology? What is the role of reference in metaphysics? What is the importance of identity? We shall be reading the work of a number of contemporary writers who address these and related questions.
D. Bakhurst Winter Term
Human beings, it is often remarked, are rational animals. The broadly Cartesian tradition in philosophy portrayed the mind as self-contained subjective world of thoughts and experiences and treated our rationality as a characteristic of minds so conceived. As the influence of Cartesianism wanes, it is now frequently claimed that we cannot understand our status as rational animals unless we appreciate that we are social beings who are members of cultures and communities and embodied creatures in interaction with our environment. This course explores the arguments behind such claims, as they play out in contemporary philosophy. Specific topics discussed will include some of the following: personal identity; freedom; rationality; naturalism; objectivity and truth; thought and its objects; concepts; perception and experience; mind and its development. Attention will be paid to the relevance of these issues to the philosophy of education. The work of John McDowell will be our focus, but we shall read a number of other contemporary philosophers (e.g. Brandom, Davidson, Hacking, Korsgaard) and their precursors (e.g. Sellars, Strawson, Wittgenstein).
(cross-listed with 4th year course PHIL 454)
J. Davies Winter Term
Special Topic: Sex work
For feminists, sex work is a hot topic—contentious and divisive. In this country it is an especially timely topic. Challenges to the criminality of activities related to sex work are now before the Supreme Court of Canada. But even if existing anti-sex work laws are repealed, there is plenty of room for new regulation. The need for reflection on what is at stake is pressing.
As well as applied ethical and policy questions, sex work also raises meta-ethical issues and questions about epistemological authority. Among those we will consider is whether sex work is inherently (or perhaps just contingently) exploitive and alienating (in a Marxist or any other sense); whether it can be a site of autonomy or necessarily involves its violation (as Kant thought); and whether the question of consent is perhaps a red herring within a culture of female subordination (as Catharine MacKinnon thinks). What‘s in a name—prostitute, whore, or sex worker? Victims of human trafficking or migrant labourers? Who is in a position to know the answers to these questions? Is experience necessary? Also, how is sex work gendered and does it matter? Though most prostitutes are female and most customers are men, there are male and transgendered prostitutes and straight female and queer customers, as well as women who in one way or another live off the avails (i.e. “pimp”). Do these variations make a difference that affects how gender shapes sex work and vice versa? Do these variations challenge our assumptions about how we know, explore and express sexual and other parts of personal identity? How do we consider the impact of racism, colonialism, transphobia, and the capitalist production of poverty on the buying and selling of sex without undermining the agency of those who engage in it? Are there any philosophical revelations to be had by looking at the perverse relation between the marginalization of sex workers and desires for the exotic?
Since the course will run as a seminar, preparation and participation are essential. Students will be encouraged to develop philosophical skills and insights through (optional) collaborative research as well as (mandatory) solo writing projects. There will be opportunities for students to enhance presentation skills, and their ability to productively share critical and constructive feedback. The instructor will present introductory lectures to frame and contextualize readings, issues and methods. Our analyses will draw on the tools of intersectionality theory as well as feminist, critical race, disability and queer theorists, attending carefully to the political economy of sex work (especially neoliberal globalization).
(cross-listed with 4th year course PHIL464)
S. Leighton Winter Term
The work of Peter Goldie has had an important influence on recent understandings of the emotions, and its connection(s) to character. This course will attempt to appreciate some of his latest and regrettably last thinking, doing so by a careful reading of his The Mess Inside: Narrative, Emotion, and the Mind. In preparation for this, we may also look at parts of his The Emotions: A Philosophical Exploration, On Personality,and (perhaps) J. Robinson’s Deeper than reason: emotion and its role in literature, music and art.
(cross-listed with 4th year course PHIL466)
D. Knight Winter Term
Topic for 2013-14: Art Criticism: Judgement, Interpretation, Evaluation
Description: This year’s course considers a range of fundamental questions centering around how we talk philosophically about art. For example: Where do the judgement/interpretation/evaluation of art stand with respect to both philosophical aesthetics and the philosophy of art? What concepts are relevant to our judgements about art? What role does interpretation play in our understanding of works of art? On what grounds can we claim to be in a position to evaluate works of art?
Issues/authors up for discussion include: Aesthetic concepts and properties, aesthetic categories and their role in criticism, the nature of aesthetic judgements, interpretive monism vs. interpretative pluralism, and key works by Monroe Beardsley, Arthur C. Danto, Ted Cohen, and Noël Carroll.
Case Studies: Because the philosophy of art criticism is so very broad, we will introduce a range of concrete examples drawn from the tradition of the fine arts, from popular and mass artforms, as well as from the avant-garde movements from the late 19th century onward. Noël Carroll’s own examples in On Criticisminclude Andy Warhol’s Brillo Box, Christopher Nolan’s Memento, the comic strip, Hagar the Horrible, Damien Hirst’s A Thousand Years, Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier, The Sopranos, Oedipus Rex, and paintings by painters as different from one another as Da Vinci, El Greco, and Henri Fantin-Latour — and I haven’t even mentioned the works of dance he references.
Evaluation: Students should expect to participate actively in our weekly seminar discussions, write several comment sheets, probably five, make a seminar presentation that is intended to structure and lead discussion for a given week’s course materials, and write a final essay on a topic of their own construction.
J. Mozersky Fall Term
This course asks whether the world possesses a unique natural/inherent structure, or whether all structure is somehow mind-dependent or relative in some sense. We shall examine various perspectives on this question through such authors such as Carnap, Quine, Goodman, Putnam, Rorty, Hacking, Ladyman, Chalmers, Hirsch, Fine and Sider. The thesis of this course is that all attempted denials of natural structure are either self-undermining or else fall prey to a particular error of reasoning that I call the ‘epistemicfallacy’. We shall conclude with some positive proposals for the natural structure of the world—with a particular focus on temporal structure—and how we might possibly come to know it.
(cross-listed with 4th year course PHIL 473)
A. Mercier Fall Term
(1) logical and ontological categories in natural language
(2) basic concepts and notation of set theory (one language useful to the analysis of natural language semantics)
(3) properties of functions, cardinalities and recursion in natural language
(4) properties of relations, orderings and structures in natural language
(5) elements of Formal Grammar Theory: generative grammars, categories and categorial grammars
(6) Boolean algebras and morphisms in the logical analysis of natural language
and (time permitting)
(7) the uses of lambda abstraction, and
(8) the rudiments of intensional logic
(cross-listed with 4th year course PHIL 493)
Mick Smith Winter Term
This course will engage with a number of key environmental issues such as biodiversity and extinction, preservation or conservation, environmental and social justice, eco-feminism, deep ecology, bioregionalism and ecological restoration drawing on a number of philosophical traditions in ethics, hermeneutics, political philosophy, pragmatism, philosophy of science and phenomenology. The aim is to provide both an overview of the variety of topics that can be encompassed within environmental philosophy and to encourage participants to develop critical and innovative approaches to questions of direct practical import. While the focus will generally be on our ethical relations to non-human entities and our understanding and interpretation of these relations we will be particularly concerned to examine the ways in which our ethical evaluations might be informed by and inform our understandings of particular places/environments.
(cross-listed with 4th year course PHIL 497)
TBA Winter Term