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Queen's University
 

300 Level Courses                       

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Course Offerings for 2014-15:

 

PHIL 301/3.0 Bioethics 3L/S

K. Gordon-Solmon    Fall Term (Tues 4:00 - 5:30; Thurs 2:30 - 4:00)

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. 

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PHIL 301/3.0 Bioethics 3L/S

K. Gordon-Solmon    Winter Term (Tues 4:00 - 5:30; Thurs 2:30 - 4:00)

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. 

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INTS 306/3.0 Culture, Identity and the Self 3L/S

P. Fairfield    Fall Term (Wed 10:00 - 11:30; Fri 8:30 - 10:00)

PREREQUISITE: Level 2 or above.

This course examines several 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.

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PHIL 310/3.0 Moral Issues in Development:

Development Ethics                 3L

R. McSheffrey Fall Term (Mon 4:00 - 5:30; Wed 2:30 - 4:00)

PREREQUISITE: Level 3 and 12 units in PHIL, ENGL, HIST, or POLS. 

This course examines philosophical issues in the field of global development, including what is meant by “development,” “freedom” and “quality of life.” Every day, poverty, famine, morbidity and violence continue to afflict millions of people around the world. Differing philosophical arguments that have emerged in response to these problems will be considered and scrutinized, including the seminal contributions of Peter Singer, Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum.

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PHIL 329/3.0 Early Modern Philosophy     3L

J. Miller Winter Term (Mon 1:00 - 2:30; Wed 11:30 - 1:00)

When Locke published An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Leibniz was both impressed by and deeply critical of what he wrote.  Eventually, Leibniz assembled his reactions into a book of his own, called New Essays on Human Understanding.  In this course, we will read Locke and Leibniz together.  By doing so, we will learn about a wide range of issues, including the nature of substance, epistemological matters, personal identity, moral philosophy, and more.

Since he was the instigator, we will always start with Locke.  We will read a portion of his text.  After we have digested his arguments, we will look at Leibniz’s responses.  The assigned readings will be substantial;  we will only be able to cover a small fraction in class.  By the end of the course, we will have gone through large parts of each philosopher’s work.

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PHIL 335/3.0 Introduction to Kant 3L

D.L.C. Maclachlan Fall Term  (Mon 11:30 - 1:00; Thurs 1:00 - 2:30)

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.

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PHIL 343/3.0 Social and Political Philosophy 3L

K. Gordon-Solmon Winter Term (Wed 6:30 - 9:30 p.m.)

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

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PHIL 347/3.0 Contemporary Moral Philosophy 3L

R. Kumar  Winter Term (Mon 11:30 - 1:00; Thurs 1:00 - 2:30)

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.     

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PHIL 351/3.0 Philosophy of Mind:

Who are you?  Bodies, Minds, and Selves            3L

D. Knight  Fall Term (Mon 1:00 - 2:30; Wed 11:30 - 1:00)

PREREQUISITES:  PHIL250/6.0 or permission of the Department

Cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky asks:  Are we just machines made of meat?

Most of us, I suspect, want to answer, “No!” to that question.  And so does Minsky.  But how does the human mind — and with it, consciousness and our sense of ourselves — emerge from the material base of our bodies and, importantly, our brains?

Just what the mind is and how it works are perennial philosophical questions that really come to center stage as a result of Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy.   Is the mind material or not?  If not material, what are we talking about, exactly?  If material, what does that entail?  Are minds brains?  If the mind is material, how can we possibly explain consciousness — our awareness of ourselves and our mental states?

We will examine various theories of mind as well as discuss such mind-related topics as intentionality, consciousness, the qualitative or “felt-sense” of phenomenal experience, and the nature of the self.

We will also consider a number of thought experiments dealing with questions such as:  What is it like to be a bat?  Why are we all not zombies (the philosophical kind of zombie, not the Hollywood kind)?  Who would you be if your mind/brain was swapped into someone else’s body, say that of Johnny Depp or a prima ballerina (assuming, of course, that you are not already Johnny Depp or a prima ballerina)?

Evaluation will include an in-class test, an essay, and a final exam.

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PHIL 352/3.0 Metaphysics:

On the Idea of Form                     3L

Mark Smith Winter Term (Mon 10:00 - 11:30; Wed 8:30 - 10:00)

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.

Readings:

Korsgaard, Self-Constitution

Aristotle, The Basic Works of Aristotle

Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals

Requirements:

Some combination of short comment sheets, a short paper, and a final paper.

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PHIL 361/3.0 Introduction to Logic 3L

N. Salay  Fall Term (Mon 10:00 - 11:30; Wed 8:30 - 10:00)

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.  

When we uncover the formal structure of our thoughts and utterances, we gain a deeper understanding of what we think and say.  When we study the formal structures themselves, we learn something of the processes underlying cognitive activity in general.  Classical logic is a formalisation of deductive reasoning, an ideal that we rarely achieve in our everyday discourse.  By familiarising ourselves with formal patterns and recognising when and how form and content mutually influence one another, we train ourselves to become better thinkers.  Ultimately, this is what you will learn in this class — how to think well.

More specifically, you will learn how to translate natural language arguments into the more precise languages of first and second-order logic and how to assess the deductive structure of those arguments using both syntactic and semantic models.  Whenever relevant, we will talk about the differences between natural and formal languages, focusing on features such as expressiveness and exactness, and consider the consequences for language and thought.  Finally, we will explore some of the philosophical issues that arise when we attempt to formalise good reasoning.  

There will be some technical work in this course, but nothing that even those who fear, probably incorrectly, that they are ‘bad at math’ couldn’t handle.

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PHIL 362/3.0 Further Studies in Logic 3L

THIS COURSE HAS BEEN CANCELLED FOR 2014-15

PREREQUISITE:  PHIL361/3.0.

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PHIL 373/3.0 Continental Philosophy, 1900-1960:

Existentialism and Hermeneutics                 3L

P. Fairfield Fall Term (Mon 8:30 - 10:00; Thurs 10:00 - 11:30)

This course provides an interpretation of three key figures in continental European philosophy between 1900 and 1960:  Martin Heidegger, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Karl Jaspers.  Major topics include existentialism and hermeneutics.  Heidegger, Sartre, and Jaspers were three of the most influential members of the movement in existential phenomenology, and an adequate understanding of existentialism requires a confrontation with their philosophical texts.  Additional themes include Being and technology, interpretation and reason, humanism and freedom.  The format is lecture with discussion. 

This course may be taken as an elective and does not presuppose any particular background in philosophy.  

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PHIL 374/3.0 Continental Philosophy, 1960- Present:

Hermeneutics and Poststructuralism                     3L

P. Fairfield Winter Term (Tues 1:00 - 2:30; Thurs 11:30 - 1:00)

This course provides an interpretation of three key figures in contemporary continental European philosophy: Hans-Georg Gadamer, Michel Foucault, and Richard Kearney. Gadamer was the pre-eminent figure in post-Heideggerian hermeneutics while Kearney is among the leading thinkers in hermeneutics today. Foucault was among the most original thinkers in poststructuralist and postmodern thought. Major themes in the course include interpretation and critique, power and the politics of knowing, genealogy and sexuality. The format is lecture with discussion.

This course may be taken as an elective and does not presuppose any particular background in philosophy.

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Kingston, Ontario, Canada. K7L 3N6. 613.533.2000