Department of Philosophy



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100 Level courses

These are courses and descriptions for 2017-18.


PHIL 111.001—What is Philosophy?

S. Sismondo


Are you looking for a broad introduction to philosophy? Here’s a course structured both around some important themes and the sweep of philosophy’s history. We’ll explore arguments about reality, knowledge, ethics and politics, from antiquity to 2016. We’ll be dealing with abstract issues about such things as the basis of morality, but will also apply what we learn to a few contemporary moral issues.  Students in this course will be evaluated on the basis of a number of small assignments each term. There will be no midterm or final exam.


LEARNING HOURS   240 (72L; 168P)

EXCLUSION   No more than 1 course from PHIL 111/6.0; PHIL 127/6.0; PHIL 151/3.0.


PHIL 111.002—What is Philosophy?

D. Lehoux/ J. Miller


An introduction to philosophy through the examination of a number of classic philosophical works, with an evaluation of the positions and arguments offered in each.

NOTE   Students considering a Major or Medial Plan in PHIL are strongly urged to take PHIL 111/6.0 or PHIL 115/6.0 in their first year.

LEARNING HOURS   240 (72L; 168P)

EXCLUSION   No more than 1 course from PHIL 111/6.0; PHIL 127/6.0; PHIL 151/3.0.


PHIL 115—Fundamental Questions

J. Davies


How to love wisdom and challenge ignorance.

Can philosophy help us overcome the limitations of personal prejudice? Can philosophy enable us to ask or even understand questions from beyond our familiar cultural horizons? Can philosophy make us better people, individually or collectively?

In PHIL 115-002 we explore questions that have engaged lovers of wisdom and virtue from the Buddha and Socrates to contemporary activists in the Idle No More movement. How can we live good lives? What is wisdom and virtue? How are error and ignorance produced? How does emotion affect good judgment and how is good judgment recognized? Our survey of the (mostly male and European or Euro-American) figures that have dominated the study of western philosophy is enriched by consideration of the works of individuals and wisdom traditions whose contributions are often overlooked by western academics. We pay particular attention to the role played by racism and other systems of dominance in reproducing ignorance along with inequality. We examine how critical perspectives function to resist ignorance.

While you learn from the insights achieved by various thinkers and schools of thought, you are also encouraged to ask your own questions and to imagine how we might best respond to them. Classroom exercises and course assignments provide opportunities to learn how to better listen, and to look for philosophical insights and arguments in written texts; and opportunities to practice communicating your own insights and arguments, orally and in writing.

Evaluation is based on short writing assignments, plus one midterm test and exam per term, as well as a discretionary overall participation mark.

NOTE   Students considering a Major or Medial Plan in PHIL are strongly urged to take PHIL 111/6.0 or PHIL 115/6.0 in their first year.

LEARNING HOURS   240 (72L;168P)


PHIL 151—Great Works of Philosophy

M.C.  Smith

FALL (3.0)

This course offers an introduction to some of the most important, and exciting, works of Western philosophy. We will read and discuss work by Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Mill and Sartre (among others) on questions of the nature of reality, knowledge, the existence of God, scientific explanation, ethics, and the meaning and conduct of human life. We will move historically from ancient Greece to the 20th century; our aim will be both to understand each philosopher’s views in their historical context, and to engage with their arguments as living, breathing pieces of dynamic thinking.

EXCLUSION   No more than 1 course from PHIL 111/6.0; PHIL 151/3.0.


PHIL 153—The State and the Citizen

Omar Bachour

WINTER (3.0)

This course introduces students to the central questions of political philosophy through an examination of the relation between the state and the citizen: What is the rationale, if any, for government? Is there a right to private property? What does equality entail? Should people have legal and political equality, equality of opportunity, or social equality? Is popular sovereignty compatible with the capitalist state? Why have anarchists, feminists, and Marxists traditionally viewed the concept of citizenship with suspicion? In the struggle to articulate new forms of citizenship, can citizenship theory be extended to nonhuman animals? What does it mean to refer to a position as “conservative,” “liberal,”  “socialist,” or “communist”? Students will become familiar with these political ideologies as well as the similarities and tensions between them. 

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)


PHIL 157—Moral issues


FALL (3.0)

An introduction to ethics via an examination of controversial moral issues, Special topics: abortion; animal rights; euthanasia

NOTE   Also offered online. Consult Continuing and Distance Studies. LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)