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Queen's University


Instructor: Dr Ben Martin

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An examination of some major milestones in the development of philosophical thought. The course will involve both the exposition of texts and discussion of the philosophical issues which they raise.

Available in Fall 2018.

EXCLUSION    No more than 1 course from PHIL 111/6.0; PHIL 151/3.0

This course will provide an introduction to important topics within philosophy through some of philosophy’s “Great Works”, including Kant’s Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Descartes’s Meditations, and Hume’s An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding. Considering the work of thinkers such as Aristotle, Aquinas, Mill, Nietzsche and Popper we will look at questions such as: Is knowledge possible? Should we use happiness as the criterion for our moral decisions? How persuasive are the famous proofs for God’s existence? How does the scientific community evaluate theories? Throughout the course we will attempt to gain a comprehensive and critical appreciation of the texts and the questions they raise. We will be interested in understanding the positions provided and evaluating the arguments given in support of them.


Learning outcomes

By the end of this course learners will be able to:

  • Examine arguments for and against consequentialist and deontological theories of morality. 

  • Detail Descartes’s sceptical arguments in the Meditations. 

  • Evaluate Aquinas’s five arguments for the existence of God. 

  • Explain Popper’s theory of falsificationism. 

  • Discuss Nietzsche’s criticisms of philosophy in Twilight of the Idols. 


Experiential learning opportunities

This course will involve two experiential learning opportunities:

1) A visit to a governmental committee

In this trip we will learn about the importance of dialectic in society, and whether the dialectical method is alive and well in our democratic seats of power. This trip will provide us with an opportunity to discuss the importance of argumentation and how we might go about evaluating the success of political discussions.

2) Guest Lecture

In this experiential learning exercise we will be visited by a guest lecturer who will speak on a topic related to the subject of the course.



The evaluation for this course is constituted of an essay (worth 45% of your overall mark), an exam (worth 40% of your overall mark), a field study exercise (worth 5% of your overall mark), and a participation mark (worth 10%).

Bader International Study Centre
Herstmonceux Castle
Hailsham, East Sussex
United Kingdom, BN27 1RN
Phone: +44 1323 834444
Fax: +44 1323 834499
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Undergraduate Admission and Recruitment
Gordon Hall, 74 Union Street
Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario
Canada, K7L 3N6
Phone: (613) 533-2218
Fax: (613) 533-6810
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