Department of Philosophy

Queen's University
Search Type



site header

 100 Level Courses


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.


PHIL 111.001 — Great Works of Philosophy

S. Sismondo

Fall/Winter (6.0)

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 — Great Works of Philosophy

D. Knight

Fall/Winter (6.0)

With key works ranging from Ancient Greece to the present, PHIL 111 is an opportunity for in-depth reading and discussion of some of Western philosophy’s greatest writers and most influential books.

Our topics include morality, justice, knowledge, the self, and the relationship between reason and the passions.  We start with two short dialogues by Plato and a large section of his Republic.  We then read Meditations, by Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius.  The first term ends with René Descartes’ Meditations.  In the second term, the key texts will include Friedrich Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil and Robert Solomon’s True to Our Feelings:  What our Emotions are Really Telling Us.  Also in the second term we will feature a philosophical conversation on the nature and value of art and beauty.

Lectures will feature opportunities for small-group discussions.  Course assignments will allow you to develop your analytical and interpretative abilities.  Students can expect to write in-class tests and short essays.  There will be a 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 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.

LEARNING HOURS   240 (72L;168P)

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


PHIL 151 — Great Works of Philosophy

D. Bakhurst

Fall (3.0)

This course will investigate a number of profound philosophical questions through a study of classic philosophical texts, both historical and contemporary.  Authors will include: Plato, Descartes, Hume, Kant, J.S. Mill, John Rawls, Phillipa Foot and Martha Nussbaum.  Topics will include: the nature and possibility of knowledge, mind and rationality; the justification of morality; the existence of God; the concept of justice; the nature of philosophy and its educational significance.

Texts: L. P. Pojman and L. Vaughn (eds), Classics of Philosophy, 3rd edn. (Oxford University Press) and supplementary readings available on e-reserve.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

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


PHIL 151 — Great Works of Philosophy

M.C.  Smith

Winter (3.0)

An examination of some major milestones in the development of philosophical thought. The course will involve both the exposition of texts and discussion of the philosophical issues which they raise.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

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


PHIL 153 — The State and the Citizen

P. Fairfield

Winter (3.0)

This course introduces students to modern political philosophy. Political philosophy is concerned with how individuals should live in common. The relation between citizen and state is thus a problem central to political philosophy, and it underpins the many questions political philosophers ask, such as: What is the rationale for government? Is there a right to private property? Does the individual have an obligation to obey the law? Should government promote equality? What is the nature of freedom? Do human beings have obligations to future generations? Do we have obligations to other species or the natural world? Some of the more lively contemporary debates in political theory concern whether the concept of citizenship is viable at all. For example, some feminists detect a sexist bias in the very idea of the citizen, while other critics note the difficulty of reconciling citizenship with cultural diversity in modern societies. This course considers a variety of philosophies and ideas to analyze some of the principal themes in political argument.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)


PHIL 157 — Moral issues

U. Schuklenk

Fall (3.0)

This course will start off with a brief summary of influential ethical theories. We will then proceed to discussing a large range of bioethical problems, looking at questions such as when human life (or anything, for that matter) attains moral standing, whether terminal illness is an ethically defensible access standard in Canada's upcoming medical aid in dying legislation, whether it is morally defensible to give catastrophically ill Ebola patients placebos in clinical trials of experimental drugs, and many other issues like those. The problems we will be focusing in will always be chosen based on real-world, practical relevance. The program itself will be a mix of one-hour lectures and tutorials. Your grade will be based on a weekly discussion question for the tutorials, that indicates that you have done your required readings, as well as a number of 500 word essays throughout term. There will be no final exam. The text book chosen is one of the most comprehensive and up-to-date bioethics textbooks around. Please note that an electronic copy of the text is available thru the library, so it's up to you whether you purchase the volume or rely on library resources.  

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)