Department of Philosophy



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200 Level Courses

These are courses and descriptions for 2017-18.


PHIL 203—Science and Society

Online course

M.C. Smith

Winter term


LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE  Level two or above


PHIL 204—Life, Death, and Meaning


WINTER (3.0)

An examination of whether life has ‘meaning’, and a consideration of different philosophical interpretations of the meaning of life, the significance of death for the meaning of life, and whether it even makes sense to speak of life as having meaning.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE  Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL


PHIL 233—Greek Philosophy

Steve Leighton

FALL (3.0)

This course will survey central works of Ancient Greek Philosophy from the Pre-Socratics through to Plato and Aristotle.

LEARNING HOURS  120 (36l:84P)

PREREQUISITE:  Completed 30.0 or more units or completed 6.0 units in Phil


PHIL 247—Practical Ethics

K. Gordon-Solmon

WINTER (3.0)

This course will subject a range of issues in practical ethics to philosophical scrutiny.  Topics may include obligations to further generations, the ethics of war and self-defence, whether torture is every permissible, the ethics of deception, the morality of genetic enhancement, the nature of exploitation, and moral objections to organ sales

LEARNING HOURS 120 (72l;168p)

PREREQUISITE:  Completed 30.0 or more units or completed 6.0 units in Phil


PHIL 250-- Epistemology and Metaphysics

D. Bakhurst


This course provides an examination of central debates in epistemology and metaphysics from the early modern period to the present. Focusing on the work of such thinkers as Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Wittgenstein and W.V.O. Quine, we shall discuss questions of the nature and justification of knowledge, mind and body, personhood and community, truth and meaning.                                                          

Texts: The book L. P. Pojman and L. Vaughn (eds), Classics of Philosophy, 3rd edn. (Oxford University Press) contains many of the central texts; further readings will be available on e-reserve.

LEARNING HOURS   240 (72L;168P)

PREREQUISITE   (A GPA of 2.0 in 6.0 units in PHIL) or (A grade of B- in 3.0 units in PHIL and Level 2 or above in a COGS Plan).


PHIL 257-- Ethics

FALL Term (6.0) -- S. Leighton; Winter Term – R. Kumar

A study of problems in moral and/or political philosophy from the ancient or early modern period to the present. L

Fall Term:This half of the course will be an introduction to moral philosophy as seen through the eyes of Plato and Aristotle.  Works to be examined are Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.  Sample topics to be considered include the possibility of an ultimate aim, responses to moral skepticism, the relative importance and place of virtue, emotion and happiness.

Winter term: TBA

Modern moral philosophy is centrally concerned with questions concerning the nature of moral obligation and moral wrongdoing. In this term of the course, 

we will consider three of the most important ones.  First, why is it that some ways of treating people are morally wrong? Second, how can we know whether

what we are thinking of doing would be morally wrong? And third, what explains why most of us try and avoid wrongdoing? 

We will think through  these matters by examining how they arise and are addressed in the work of Hume, Kant, Sidgwick, and Nietzsche. 


Course Structure:

Classes will consist of lectures with some opportunity for discussion. 


LEARNING HOURS   240 (76L;168P)

PREREQUISITE   A GPA of 2.0 in 6.0 units in PHIL.


PHIL 259—Critical Thinking

N. Salay

FALL Term (3.0) Online course

In this class you will learn how to think critically; you will learn how to evaluate arguments, claims, beliefs, and so on as well as how to make solid arguments of your own.  You will learn how to think clearly, a powerful skill indeed.  Since the complement to thinking clearly is writing clearly, this critical thinking course also includes a writing component.  Many of the assignments require short essay or paragraph-style answers.  These will be marked on content, grammar, and style.


LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

EXCLUSION   No more than 3.0 units from PHIL 158/3.0; PHIL 259/3.0.


PHIL 261 – Philosophy of Mathematics

M.C. Smith

Winter (3.0)

The philosophy of mathematics is especially interesting because it brings together a number of questions in metaphysics, epistemology and the philosophies of thought and language. After a very quick run through some historical views, we will address largely contemporary material that deals with these questions, among others:

  • What, if anything, is the subject-matter of mathematics?
  • What is mathematical objectivity? Are there mathematical objects?
  • How can mathematical truths be known?
  • What is a proof? What do proofs prove?
  • What does paradox teach us about the mathematical realm?
  • How can we explain the applicability of mathematics in natural science and daily life? 

We will be reading work by Kant, Russell, Hilbert, Boolos, Quine, Putnam, Field, Yablo and others. No particular mathematical background will be assumed. 

PREREQUISITE level two or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL


PHIL 270—Minds and Machines

N. Salay

WINTER (3.0)

In this course we will survey the contribution of philosophy to the cognitive sciences.  Our focus will be on providing an holistic understanding of the various perspectives brought by each of the disciplines, in particular, cognitive psychology, computer science, neuroscience, and linguistics, through an investigation of how the various approaches ultimately frame and answer our questions about the mind.  The course will begin with a brief overview of the traditional themes in the philosophy of mind, but the bulk of the term will be spent investigating contemporary themes in cognitive science from a philosophical perspective.  The topics we will cover throughout the term include, but are not limited to, the following: formal systems; physical symbol systems; neural networks; A-life; emergent systems; dynamical systems; cognitive linguistics; embodied cognition.

NOTE   Each week, students will be assigned a number of articles or chapters for reading and will be expected to be able to discuss the readings in class.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE  Level two or above EQUIVALENCY   PHIL 170/3.0.


PHIL 273 -- Continental Philosophy: 1800–1900
P. Fairfield

FALL (3.0)
This lecture course provides an analysis of key figures and texts in nineteenth-century continental European philosophy. After a few lectures on G.W.F. Hegel, we shall study key works by Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Wilhelm Dilthey. Major themes will include existentialism and hermeneutics. While existentialism is a twentieth-century term, its roots as a philosophical movement lie in the writings of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche in particular. Nietzsche and Dilthey were major figures in hermeneutics or the philosophy of interpretation, and their respective contributions to this field will be a focus in this course. Additional themes will include the critique of modern epistemology and metaphysics, religion and religious morality, and the conditions and limits of human knowledge. The format will be lecture with discussion.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE  Level two or above


PHIL 275-- Thinking Gender, Sex and Love

J. Davies


This course complements material taught about gender, sexuality and love from different disciplinary perspectives including History, Psychology, Biology, Health, and Gender Studies among other departments. PHIL 275 has a discipline specific emphasis on classic and contemporary philosophical literature, figures, and methods.

The critical thinking skills taught in this course are accessible to student who have not studied philosophy before and are transferable to other disciplines. 

Philosophy concentrators will benefit from the topic/problem focus on familiar philosophical figures and schools (from Plato to Foucault, utilitarianism, liberalism, deontology) as well exposure to thinkers, perspectives and literatures with which they may be less familiar.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE  Level two or above


PHIL 276 – Critical Perspectives on Social Diversity

Frédéric Côté-Boudreau

FALL (3.0)

The notions of intersectionality, privilege, oppression, power struggles, and safe space are increasingly becoming known in the mainstream, in particular within left-wing advocacy organizations and media. This course will offer an opportunity for students to be introduced to the origins of these notions, learn some of the philosophical theories that underlie them, and study how issues of oppression apply to a wide variety of social groups such as women, racialized groups, indigenous peoples, LGBTQI+, persons with disabilities, children, and nonhuman animals. Students will develop the tools to approach the philosophical dimensions surrounding these issues and to engage critically about some of the most important social debates of our contemporary societies. 


PREREQUISITE  level 3 standing


PHIL 293 -- Humans and the Natural World

M. Smith

FALL (3.0)

This course will provide an introduction to some of the key themes of environmental thought through the investigation of influential texts and ideas within Western philosophical traditions. We will examine different understandings of human nature and the relations to organisms and environments they presume as well as the disparate roles played by ‘nature’ in social and political philosophies. Amongst the topics studied will be changes in what is meant by ‘natural’ and ‘nature’; the increasing importance of evolutionary perspectives; the relation between history and natural history; human ecology; wilderness; animal ethics and vegetarianism and current debates over conservation and climate change. The course will also investigate what difference contemporary environmental concerns might make to the way we envisage humanity’s current status and future possibilities.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE  Level two or above

PHIL 296—Animals and Society

C. Blattner

WINTER (3.0)

This course introduces students to historical and contemporary debates regarding the treatment of nonhuman animals within Western societies, and explores our ethical responsibilities toward them. The course examines a range of human- animal relations, involving domesticated, working, research subjects and wild animals.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE  Level two or above