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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

TF 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, such as what is meant by 'development', 'freedom' and 'quality of life'.

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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 asking: what role (if any) does form play in understanding life, and thought, and action? The notion of form is central to metaphysics, but (like many central concepts) there is no consensus over its role or meaning. Things have a form that makes them members of a kind; organisms follow a more or less regular pattern of development; logical thought has a form; so do works of visual art and music and fiction; and perhaps all morally right actions share a certain form; perhaps all persons do too. But what is form, and is the same concept at work in theories of species, thoughts, personal identity, and music?

Plato saw the Forms as supernatural; Aristotle naturalized the concept of form. Descartes rejected the idea of forms as outside the mind and instead investigated the form of the mind itself; Frege and others developed technical machinery for investigating logical form. Recent metaphysics has revived the notion of natural form (e.g. Christine Korsgaard, Michael Thompson) in the philosophies of mind and action.

This course will track and assess the history and content of theories of form, with a view to seeing how they have developed, how they are defended by argument, and whether any is satisfactory.

Readings will include material from Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Descartes, Frege, Korsgaard, and others.

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PHIL 361/3.0 Introduction to Logic 3L

A. Mercier 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.  

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.

(2) deals with understanding sentences : Natural languages (English, French, and so on) suffer greatly from various forms and degrees of ambiguity and vagueness. By studying the language of logic (Logikese), 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.

This is how the study of logic, as I approach it with a grounding in theoretical linguistics, increases the clear-mindedness of our thoughts and their accurate expression. (Many students over the years have reported that studying logic has greatly improved their writing skills.)           

(1) deals with understanding arguments : what conclusion follows from which hypotheses, what claim ensues from other claims, what statement can be derived from other statements, what the consequence is of a certain set of premises, what new information can be inferred from prior information, and correspondingly, what fails to follow, what does not ensue, what should not be derived, what is only mistakenly taken as a consequence of and merely falsely inferred. Our aim here is to cultivate our sensitivity to reasoning frailties in humans in order to avoid succumbing to them, and to cultivate rigorous reasoning discipline. This is how 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. (Many math students over the years have reported that studying logic has improved their math skills.)

The part of this course intended to develop these skills will be known as deduction (to show validity) and modeling (to show invalidity). 

This class will cover what is called propositional logic and monadic predicate calculus (Don’t let the math-sounding vocabulary intimidate you. Although this is a formal course, it requires no mathematical background whatsoever.)

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PHIL 362/3.0 Further Studies in Logic 3L

A. Mercier, Winter Term (Mon 4:00 - 5:30; Wed 2:30 - 4:00)

PREREQUISITE:  PHIL361/3.0.

This course is the sequel to PHIL 361, and designed to finish the thorough grounding in first-order predicate calculus begun there. This class will cover what is called polyadic predicate calculus with identity, and will distinguish predicates from various operations. (Don’t let the math-sounding vocabulary intimidate you. Although this is a formal course, it requires no mathematical background whatsoever.)

Time permitting, we will also introduce modal logics, more highly expressive logics that deal with actuality, possibility and necessity in their various guises (alethic, deontic, temporal, epistemic). 

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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