Department of Philosophy

DEPARTMENT OF

Philosophy

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400 Level Courses

These are courses and descriptions for 2017-18. 

 

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PHIL 405—Current Issues in Social and Political Philosophy I

Will Kymlicka

FALL (3.0)

Special Topic: Frontiers of Citizenship

"Citizenship" has arguably been the central organizing concept for advancing claims of justice in the past century. Demands for women's rights, gay rights, disability rights, children's rights, minority rights – even animal rights - have all been rearticulated as struggles for new forms of citizenship. All of these cases challenge inherited ideas of what defines the attributes of a (good) citizen, and in much of the popular debate and academic literature, attempts to extend citizenship to some of these groups are sometimes seen as diluting the fundamental values of citizenship. This course will explore the frontiers of citizenship. In particular, it will explore whether citizenship should be understood, not in terms of some static list or threshold of capacities or virtues, but rather as a process of what Jim Tully calls “citizenization” – the attempt to restructure social and political relationships on the basis of democratic values of consent, participation, trust, membership and autonomy rather than on the basis of force or paternalism or exclusion. Viewed this way, the task of citizenship is to enable all members of society to have a say in matters that affect them, and to thereby contribute to the democratic governance of the larger society, even if they do not participate in the particular ways or in the particular spaces envisaged in classical citizenship theory. The course will explore what we gain, and we might potentially lose, in opening up citizenship theory to radically diverse forms of belonging and participation.

PREREQUISITE   Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

 

PHIL 406—Current Issues in Social and Political Philosophy II

C. Sypnowich

WINTER (3.0)

Special Topic: Human Flourishing and Equality

Flourishing and Equality -- The idea of flourishing is central to the philosophy of the ancients, particularly Aristotle, in which it figures as a measure of the good for both the person and the community.  The task of the community is to enable the person to live well, in concert with the individual’s own commitment to the good life.  However, with the rise of liberal neutralist conceptions of politics, contemporary ethical discussion tends to assume a division of labour between questions of the good life, the province of moral philosophy and individual choice, and questions of justice, the province of political philosophy and the community.

This course focuses on how the idea of human flourishing can inform a theory of equality. 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 millennium.  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.

This course looks at the idea of equality in light of a range of contemporary debates, drawing on a number of key writings among contemporary egalitarians, including the instructor’s recent work.

PREREQUISITE Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

 

PHIL 420—Ethical Issues

U. Schuklenk

WINTER (3.0)

Special Topic: Global Bioethics

This popular bioethics course has been running for quite a number of years. The first third of the course content is set by me, the remainder will be decided upon by you during the first few weeks of the course. You will be able to each choose a bioethical problem that is of interest to you. Both your essay topic as well as your classroom presentation will be dedicated to an analysis of that problem. In the past we tackled issues such as euthanasia in Canada, the ethics of the use of performance enhancing drugs in sports and in the classroom, reproductive health issues, public health ethics issues in the context of recent Ebola virus disease outbreaks in West Africa, and many diverse others. We will run this course in one of our new Active Learning classrooms, which gives us the flexibility to create ad hoc working groups during classes where that would improve your learning outcomes. While I do not monitor attendance, your participation grade will depend significantly on - well - participating.

You are strongly encouraged to contact me during the term break to discuss possible essay/presentation topics with me. I'm at udo.schuklenk@queensu.ca.

There is no required reading volume that you will need to purchase for this course. You will likely find yourself sourcing and reading between 2-3 journal articles per week.

PREREQUISITE Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

 

PHIL 431—Ancient Philosophy I

S. Leighton

WINTER (3.0)

Special Topic: Aristotleans on Virtue and Emotion

Philosophy 431 will look at Aristotle and Aristotelians on virtue and emotion. Beginning with Aristotle, we will look at his general understanding of virtue and emotion, then his more specific accounts of the emotions fear and anger, and the virtues courage and good temper. We will then turn to more contemporary “Aristotelians’” reflections on related themes, in particular, J. Lear’s reflections on courage, fear and hope in Radical Hope, and M. Nussbaum’s reflections on anger in Anger and Forgiveness.

PREREQUISITE Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

 

PHIL 445—Major Figures I

M.C. Smith

FALL (3.0)

Special Topic: Descartes, Mind & the Passions

This seminar will be focused on the question of whether or not Descartes has the resources for an adequate account of mind-body integration and the wholeness of the human person. Cartesian mechanism overthrew Aristotelian hylomorphism in the seventeenth century, but put mind-body dualism in its place, thus splitting persons into two essentially antithetical components. After examining the critique of hylomorphism, we will see whether anything can be done in a Cartesian framework to pull us back together. We will read the complete correspondence between Descartes and Princess Elisabeth of Bohemia, which tackles the question of interaction and integration through an assessment of the role of the passions; we will also read The Passions of the Soul (1649), as well as several other works by Descartes. Along the way we will look at Cartesian moral philosophy and the social dimension of the Cartesian self, among other somewhat neglected aspects of Descartes’s philosophy. 

PREREQUISITE Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

 

PHIL 452—Current Issues in Metaphysics I

H. Laycock

FALL (3.0)

Issues in contemporary analytical metaphysics, ontology and logic. Among the topics for consideration are the dichotomy of universal and particular, the nature of attributes and natural kinds, the dichotomy of countable objects and uncountable material stuff. These topics are intimately related to logico-semantical distinctions such as that of 'singular term' and 'general term'; and equally, that of names, variables and predicates. Certain works of contemporary authors, including especially W. V. O. Quine, will be examined, but the ideas here involved go back to the ancient world of Plato, Aristotle and the Presocratics. 

PREREQUISITE Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

 

PHIL 454—Topics in Feminist Philosophy

J. Davis

FALL (3.0)

Special Topic:  Regulating sexual commerce and agency

For feminists, commercial sex is a contentious and divisive topic. Some defend the rights of sex workers of all genders and orientations to assert their sexual and commercial agency. Others object to prostitution as the objectification and exploitation of women. Some critics of prostitution connect it with class stratified, racist and colonial systems of domination. Conservatives speak of threats to communities and exploited persons. These diverse frameworks share little common ground. In Canada the ground shifted recently: selling sex was decriminalized while buying it was even more punitively criminalized. The meaning and effects of this legal development have yet to be fully grasped. What are the implications of making sex work conceptually impossible and deleting the term “prostitute” from the Canadian Criminal Code? Are such disappeared concepts related to repression of agency? Does it make violence less visible rather than less frequent? Who is hurt by the new law and the conceptual framework it introduces? Who benefits? How can we tell? The need for research and reflection is pressing.

In addition to political philosophy and policy questions, sex for pay raises meta-ethical issues and questions in epistemology and the philosophy of social science.  Is sex for pay inherently or contingently exploitive, subordinating or alienating (in a Marxist or any other sense)? Can commercial sex be a site of enhanced or diminished agency? Is it necessarily immoral (as Kant thought)? What’s in a name—“prostituted person”, “hustler,” “pimp,” or “sex worker”? What is presupposed in “human trafficking” versus “migrant labour” discourses? How is social and epistemological situatedness relevant? Who is in a position to know the answers to these questions?  Is experience or political engagement necessary?

Since the course will run as a seminar, regular preparation and participation are essential. Students will be encouraged to develop philosophical skills and insights with opportunities for collaborative research and solo writing projects.  Students will have the chance to enhance their presentation skills and to practice sharing constructive criticism.  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 commercial sex (especially under global neoliberalism). Assignments include regular comment sheets, a take-home midterm, an optional seminar presentation and a final paper.

PREREQUISITE Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

 

PHIL 464—Topics in Philosophy of Mind

N. Salay

WINTER (3.0)

Special Topic: Cognitive Science

This semester we will work our way through a new text, possibly Andy Clark’s new book, Surfing Uncertainty: Prediction, Action, and the Embodied Mind. No prior experience in mind/cognitive science is required as I will be filling in around the text with the relevant background material when and where required.

Philosophy of Mind/Cognitive Science has really come a long way in the past five years. As an inquiry into what some call “the final frontier,” namely mind, it is certainly one of the most interesting and exciting fields. In the course of our investigation, topics we will look at include cognition, memory, attention, language, logical inference, neural nets/statistical inference, consciousness, self-identity, ego, and free will, to name but a few. By the end of the course you will have a good grounding in the central issues of contemporary philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

This is a seminar course and, consequently, participation is expected: it will contribute to your evaluation in the form of weekly commentaries, both written and verbal, and general discussion.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

 

PHIL 467—Hermeneutics

P. Fairfield

WINTER (3.0)

This year’s seminar on hermeneutics focuses on aesthetics. We shall discuss a few essays from Hans-Georg Gadamer’s The Relevance of the Beautiful, followed by some more recent work by a variety of authors on the theme of artistic creation.

PREREQUISITE Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

 

PHIL 470—Topics in Philosophy of Science - Ancient Conceptions

D. Lehoux

WINTER (3.0)

An examination of major issues in the philosophy of science. Possible topics to be considered include explanation, realism versus instrumentalism scientific progress, the social dimensions of science and the unity of the sciences.

PREREQUISITE Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

 

PHIL 473—Philosophical Logic

A. Mercier

WINTER (3.0)

An examination of major issues in the philosophy of logic. Possible topics to be considered include deviant logics, the nature of identity, modal logics and the paradoxes of material implication and strict conditionals.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE PREREQUISITE Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)] and PHIL 361/3.0.

 

PHIL 493--Environmental Philosophy

M. Smith

WINTER

This course will engage with a number of key environmental and ecological issues such as biodiversity and extinction, preservation or conservation, climate change, eco-feminism, deep ecology, and ecological community, drawing on a number of philosophical traditions in ethics, hermeneutics, political philosophy, and phenomenology together with various understandings of ecology and post-humanism. The aim is to provide both an overview of the variety of current topics 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.

PREREQUISITE   Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level) or registration in a ENVS Medial Plan or ENSC Major plan or ENSC, EGPY, EBIO, ECHM, EGEO, ELSC or ETOX Specialization Plan)].