K. Gordon-Solmon Fall Term
PREREQUISITE: (Completed 60.0 or more units) or (Registration in a "Faculty of Medicine" plan).
This course will be built around the observations that we now have unprecedented control over how we are born, live, and die, and that we will soon have even more control. It asks what limits there should be on the exercise of this control. Topics will include parents designing their (future) children, the use of performance enhancing drugs (in sports and otherwise), memory tampering, abortion, and euthanasia. We'll read a selection of articles from the contemporary philosophical literature, supplemented by a small number of articles from the popular press. Evaluation will be based on an 8-page term paper (50%), two 4-6 page papers, and, possibly, class participation (10%). There will be no final exam.
P. Fairfield Winter Term
PREREQUISITE: Level 2 or above.
This course examines a few contemporary theories of culture, the self, and the relation between them. Our principal focus is the nature of what is called culture and its relevance to the individual human being, considering the extent to which our identity as persons, and the nature and character of our minds, are formed in interaction with the various elements of our culture. While it is well known that “who we are” depends in some manner on the historical circumstances in which we live, this fact has often been overlooked or downplayed by conceptions of the self that have their roots in early modern thought. In recent decades, however, a growing number of theorists in a variety of disciplines of the humanities and social sciences have endeavored to give due credence to the role of culture in the fashioning of the self. A few such theories are the focus of this course.
S. Babbitt Winter Term
PREREQUISITE: Level 3 and 12 units in PHIL, ENGL, HIST, or POLS.
In this course we consider key themes and thinkers from Latin America and the Caribbean. We discuss the work of nineteenth century Cuban philosopher José Martí and 20th century Argentinean philosopher Ernesto “Che” Guevara as well as Simón Bolívar, José de la Luz y Caballero, Félix Varela, José Carlos Mariátequi and others. In considering the relevance of such ideas to North American and European analytic traditions, we will ask why such philosophy is so little known and how the answer to this question matters more broadly.
José Martí: Selected Writings(Penguin Books 2002)
Che Guevara,Global Justice, Liberation and Socialism(Ocean Press, 2002)
D. Bakhurst Fall Term
PREREQUISITE: PHIL250/6.0 or permission of the Department.
What is the nature of mind and to what extent can it be disclosed by natural-scientific methods? The course draws on the ideas of a variety of thinkers - including Bruner, Davidson, Hacking, McDowell, Vygotsky, Wiggins, and Wittgenstein - to explore the nature of psychological explanation. We will examine the social dimensions of the human mind, addressing questions of personhood, identity, rationality, freedom, and self-knowledge. Finally, we shall consider how these issues illuminate the psychology of learning, development, and education.
D. Knight Fall Term
PREREQUISITE: (12.0 units in PHIL of which 6.0 units in PHIL must be at the 200-level or above) or (18.0 units in ARTF; ARTH; DRAM; ENGL; FILM; or MUSC).
The Philosophy of the Arts
PHIL 316 is a wide-ranging introduction to the philosophy of the arts. You will be asked to master a number of readings, and to engage with many examples of works of art, works of non-art, and works in between. Both the readings and examples will inform our discussions about just what sorts of things get to count as “art,” and what is philosophically significant about particular artforms.
A bit of background first. Since the 18th Century, many philosophers have attempted to defend a unified and coherent philosophy of art, with the view to showing, for all distinct artforms and artworks, what makes them all works of art. More recently, some philosophers interested in art and the aesthetic have thought that a better way to examine things is to think in terms of the philosophy of the arts. Maybe it is just overly ambitious to hope for a single philosophy of art that identifies the essence shared by, for example, Cycladic sculpture (3200-2300 B.C.E.), medieval illuminated manuscripts, ceramic and textile arts, Baroque architecture, Rembrandt’s self-portraits, 19th century African sculpture, modern dance, jazz improvisation, postmodern literature, and graffiti art (think: Banksy).
This year we will start out with some classic and some more recent texts in the philosophy of art (i.e., David Hume, Edmund Burke, Frank Sibley, Kendall Walton). We will then examine specific artforms including painting, photography and film, architecture, music, literature, and the performance arts. In the final weeks of term, we will consider a range of examples taken from popular art and everyday aesthetics, including junkyards, kitsch, comics, mass art, and jokes.
Students should expect two or three written assignments, possibly an in-class test, and a final exam.
Justice, Rights and Freedom
C. Sypnowich Winter Term
PREREQUISITE: Completed 60.0 or more units.
This course introduces students to some of the central concepts in the philosophy of law or jurisprudence. Jurisprudence concerns the theory of law and as such straddles the disciplines of law and philosophy, both the principles of legal institutions and the ideals of legal order. At the heart of the philosophy of law is the question of how the rules of the coercive state might justly intervene in individual freedom. We will consider writings from classic jurisprudence as well as contemporary debates. Possible topics include the relation between law and morality, the idea of the rule of law, natural rights and legal rights, the idea of an obligation to obey the law, punishment and responsibility. These problemsuestions and others will be pursued in order to acquire a grasp of the central ideas and arguments of political philosophy as well as the skills to assess and critique them.
David Dyzenhaus, Sophia Reibetanz Moreau, Arthur Ripstein (eds.) Law and Morality
Structure: Lectures with some opportunity for discussion in class or tutorials.
T.B.A. but likely a mixture of in class exams and written assignments.
S. Leighton Winter Term
PREREQUISITE: (PHIL232/6.0 or PHIL250/6.0 or PHIL257/6.0) or (6.0 units in PHIL and level 3 or above in a CLST Major or Medial Plan) or permission of the Department.
This course will be concerned with the thought of Plato and the response to it by his most important student, Aristotle. It will be interested in their agreements and disagreements, and the bases for their positions. The precise topics to be considered are not determined at present. One possibility is a comparison and contrast of Plato’s Republic with Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. A second possibility is a more general comparison and contrast of their approaches to a variety of issues. If the latter, the topics to be considered are likely to include metaphysical and epistemological concerns, but a major part of the course will be devoted to their psychological understanding of persons and the role emotions are to take in our lives.
The course is lecture based, but with considerable time for discussion, both as it concerns interpretation of often difficult texts, and more wide ranging discussion of pertinent matters. The aims of the class will include coming to grips with the texts, the positions and arguments offered, and, (as far as we can tell) the truth of these matters.
Evaluation will be based on written work (both papers and exams) and, (if feasible) class presentations.
Paul Fairfield Fall Term
PREREQUISITES: PHIL 250/6.0 or PHIL257/6.0 or permission from the Department.
This course investigates the thought of two of the most influential European philosophers of the nineteenth century, Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. We shall study key works by each of these figures. The format will be lecture with discussion.
D.L.C. Maclachlan Fall Term
PREREQUISITES: PHIL 250/6.0 or permission from the Department.
The Critique of Pure Reason is widely recognized as the most central book in modern philosophy, with enormous influence on both AngloSaxon and Continental philosophy. It is a difficult book, not easy to understand. This is not because Kant is an obscure writer: he writes with extraordinary clarity about straightforward matters. The trouble is that the topics he is discussing are intrinsically difficult and to get a grip on Kant's innovative approach to the problem of our cognitive life requires a radical shift in our normal habits of thought which is not easy to carry out.
The Critique of Pure Reason is a long book as well as a difficult book and we shall not attempt to study the whole thing. I shall concentrate on selected topics to be specified in an outline which will be made available when the class begins. The passages selected will be studied with great thoroughness, often reading a paragraph aloud in class before attempting to explain it and answer questions about it.
The work for this course is designed to make sure that students have a good understanding of Kant's Transcendental Idealism. It will consist of two parts. There will be two short essays (1500 words) each worth 25% of the final mark. There will be a final examination held during the regular December examination period worth 50% of the final mark. The examination paper will contain four questions of which students must attempt three. The four questions on the paper will be drawn from a master list of eight questions will be made available in advance.
Textbook: Immanuel Kant Critique of Pure Reason translated by Norman Kemp Smith.
K. Gordon-Solmon Winter Term
PREREQUISITE: PHIL 257/6.0 or permission of the Department.
This course will provide an upper-level introduction to contemporary discussions of distributive justice. The central text will be John Rawls' pioneering book, A Theory of Justice. We will also look at selections from the critical literature surrounding A Theory of Justice, as well as certain alternative theories that have developed in its wake. Here, readings will include pieces by Robert Nozick, Ronald Dworkin, and G.A. Cohen.
Evaluation will be based on 2 papers, an in-class presentation, and class participation
R. Kumar Winter Term
PREREQUISITE: PHIL257/6.0 or permission of the Department.
Much of the most important work in moral philosophy over the past fifty years has focused on moral psychology, the examination of how morality shapes and is constrained by deep features of human agency and practical reasoning. In this course we will examine in detail some of the path-breaking work that has shaped the field, focusing, in particular, on the seminal work of Thomas Nagel, Bernard Williams, and Harry Frankfurt.
Mark Smith Fall Term
PREREQUISITE: PHIL250/6.0 or permission of the Department.
We will be examining the metaphysical idea of form – the idea that there is a form inherent in natural things, that this form tells us how a thing ought to be, and that such forms are captured by our minds and give us a standard for both thought and action. And so we will be investigating the closely connected idea of normativity as well: are there norms in nature? Are there objective norms for (good) action? And are there objective norms governing who we ought to be, and how our selves should be made?
Our main focus will be a recent book by Christine Korsgaard, Self-Constitution (2009), which develops a fascinating view of these questions. Along the way we will also pay close attention to Aristotle and Kant, whom Korsgaard draws on extensively. In fact, this will be a course touching on metaphysics, mind, action, personal identity, and the foundations of ethics.
Aristotle, The Basic Works of Aristotle
Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals
Some combination of short comment sheets, a short paper, and a final paper.
A. Mercier Fall Term
PREREQUISITE: A GPA of 2.0 in 6.0 units in PHIL.
One-way exclusion: may not be taken with or after CISC 204/3.0.
This class will cover what is called propositional logic and monadic predicate calculus. The sequel to this class –PHIL 362—will cover polyadic predicate calculus with identity, and (time permitting) an introduction to modal logic. Do not let the pedantic math-sounding vocabulary intimidate you.
In this course, we attempt to understand two things :
(1) various ways of assessing the goodness (or badness) of reasoning;
and, perhaps even more importantly,
(2) the logic underlying natural language sentences.
(1) deals with understanding arguments :
the study of logic, as I approach it with a heavy emphasis on natural deduction exercises, increases the reflexive awareness of reasoning processes and our reasoning agility.
The part of this course intended to develop these skills will be known as deduction (to show validity) and modeling (to show invalidity).
(2) deals with understanding sentences :
Natural languages suffer from various forms and degrees of ambiguity and vagueness. By studying logic, a language devoid of ambiguity, we cultivate a sensitivity to ambiguities and vagaries, striking and subtle, that infect the natural languages that are the means humans possess for formulating and expressing their thoughts.
The part of this course intended to develop these skills will be known as symbolization (from English into Logic), and translation (from Logic into English).
A. Mercier Winter Term
This class is the sequel to PHIL 361 in which students will have covered propositional logic and monadic predicate calculus. This class will cover polyadic predicate calculus with identity and definite descriptions, and (time permitting) an introduction to modal logic. Do not let the pedantic math-sounding vocabulary intimidate you.
N. Najand Fall Term
PREREQUISITE: (12.0 credits in (PHIL; GNDS) including 6.0 units in (PHIL; GNDS) at the 200-level or above) or permission of the Department.
The term “feminist philosophy” is misleading because feminists work in a wide range of philosophical fields on various topics and issues and not all feminist philosophers speak with one voice.
This course will introduce students to different feminist perspectives such as liberal, radical, socialist and Marxist viewpoints. Some topics and issues (such as the politics of work and family, sexual harassment, pornography, and feminism, science, and bias) on which feminist philosophers differ will be covered.
The influence of feminist perspectives on the framing and study of philosophical problems, and the contribution of philosophy to the development of feminist theory and practice, will be central concerns.
This course can be counted towards a minor, major or medial concentration in Gender Studies.