Graduate Courses

*Note that students in the M.A. in Political and Legal Thought (PLT) program may enrol in PLT-designated courses offered by any of the program’s collaborating units (Philosophy, Political Studies, and Law). Philosophy Ph.D. students interested in enrolling in theory courses offered by Politics or Law should speak to the graduate coordinator (currently Professor Rahul Kumar) about doing so.

Fall 2022

PHIL 802              
Moral Philosophy I
Topic: Agency, Value, and Responsibility
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Kumar           

Scanlon’s contractualism is the most developed, systematic, non-consequentialist alternative to any form of consequentialism to date. This seminar will focus on a close examination of contractualism as Scanlon develops it in his magisterial book, What We Owe to Each Other. Time permitting, we will also discuss how Scanlon develops the implications of contractualist thinking for normative ethics and moral responsibility in his later book, Moral Dimensions: Permissibility, Meaning, and Blame. Assessment will be based on weekly participation, discussion questions, and a final term paper.

PHIL 405/805
Current Issues in Social & Political Philosophy I
Topic: Interspecies Politics         
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Kymlicka      
Course Number/Name  PHIL 405/805 Interspecies Politics

There is growing recognition of animals’ moral status both within moral philosophy and at the level of public opinion. However, the growing recognition of animals’ moral status has not translated into any real change in their political status. Animals are not represented in politics, are not seen as political actors or as political stakeholders, and are essentially ignored when political decisions are made. They also remain almost entirely invisible within political philosophy. Whenever political philosophers discuss the core concepts of our field - democracy, representation, deliberation, legitimacy, accountability, citizenship, the people, the public sphere, claims-making, the demos, popular sovereignty, and self-government – animals are ignored. This course will explore why it has proven so difficult to translate moral status into political status, and what this tells us about the nature and purpose of “politics”. We will also explore recent efforts to theorize what an “interspecies politics” would look like, and to reimagine our relations with animals as political relationships.

Texts/Readings: Available through library e-reserve

Assessment: Comment sheets; seminar presentation; term paper

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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]). 

Course Equivalencies: PHIL405, PHIL453 

PHIL809/POLS858
Colloquium in Political, Legal and Moral Philosophy      
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Webber/Thomas

This Colloquium course explores new work in legal and political philosophy. Once every two weeks, a legal, moral, or political philosopher will present a paper falling within the general boundaries of the Colloquium’s ambit.

In alternate weeks, students will meet with the Colloquium convenors (Professors Thomas and Webber) to prepare for the forthcoming session, examining the paper in depth. Students registered for the course will include law students and graduate students in philosophy and political studies.

Student evaluation will be a combination of participation (40%), six short reaction pieces (each worth 5% for a total of 30%), and a term paper (30%). Participation will be evaluated by contributions during the seminar discussion in advance of the session with the author as well as engagement with the author during the session in which the author presents his or her paper. 

Please note space in the colloquium is limited and priority will be given to students in the Political and Legal Thought specialization.

PHIL 412/812    
Topics in Philosophy of Culture
Topic: Philosophy of Culture
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Manning      

An examination of major issues in the philosophy of culture. Possible topics to be studied include: the history of the philosophy of culture; the relationship between culture and identity or the self; the relationship between culture and progress; and various forms of cultural relativism.

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 420/820     
Ethical Issues I
Topic: Selected Issues in Bioethics
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Schüklenk    

We will discuss in each class a limited number of specific topics in bioethics. Typically, in this course, the topics are student-initiated. We have, in past installments of this course, covered a wide variety of issues, ranging from gender reassignment to the criminalisation of HIV transmission to standards of care in a trial, global health aid obligations and MAiD for patients with refractory depression.

You are encouraged to work on a topic/question that is of genuine interest to you, and focus on that, both in your classroom presentation as well as in what will be your only major written piece of work, namely an extended essay (5000 words for PHIL420 students, 6000 words for PHIL820 students). In the essay you are required to defend a clear thesis, reviewing arguments without taking and defending a stance won’t cut it.

I will cover the first 3-4 weeks with lectures and readings, after that it will be your turn.

The structure of each class is: 20-30 min presentations per topic (by me or you), rebuttal (10-15 min by students assigned that task in advance), general classroom discussion. The required readings will be agreed on in advance of the class. The objective of these presentations is to ‘test-run’ your essay arguments. The presentation will be on the same topic as your essay.

  • Reconsider taking this course if presenting content and subjecting yourself to a lively discussion of your views might pose a challenge you’d rather not face.
  • Reconsider taking this course if the thought of having to write a coherent 5000 or 6000 word argument in support of a position you need to defend/argue for might not be your thing.

Everyone else: come on in. The course is usually enjoyed by those taking it.

In case you’d like to get a head-start, contact me during the summer term to lock in your topic and presentation date. I operate a first come first served policy. You can reach me at  udo.schuklenk@pm.me

Texts/Readings: Given that we will have readings based on the essay topics/questions you wish to address, there won’t be a prescribed text. We typically pick one or two peer reviewed journal articles to study in preparation for a given classroom presentation. You will access those prescribed readings journal articles using library resources.

Assessment Essay: 40% of overall grade

Presentation: 20% of overall grade

Rebuttal: 15% of overall grade

Weekly Required Readings Question: 10% of overall grade

Classroom participation: 15% of overall grade

Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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 821/CUST 807
Ethical Issues II
Topic: Abolition and Decolonization      
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Guenther     

In this seminar, we will study some key abolitionist (and) decolonial texts in the context of recent blogs, podcasts, and webinars on current movements to defund and abolish police and prisons. The aim of the course is to situate our present moment in relation to a longer arc of decolonial abolitionist praxis (understood as the relation between theory, action, and reflection) in order to recover and co-create methods for dismantling carceral-colonial institutions and building freer, healthier, and more just communities. Throughout the semester, we will reflect on the map as a colonial instrument of domination, but also as a creative tool for navigating oppressive structures and sketching concrete alternatives to the world that slavery and colonialism have built. We will also activate our collective power to dream, not as an escapist fantasy but as a critical research method that moves beyond an analysis of what is wrong with the world to experiment with ways of making it better. 

Texts/Readings: Readings will include work by Angela Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Robyn Maynard, and others

Assessment:     

  • Participation (20%)
  • Presentation (20%)
  • Final Project (60%)

PHIL 431/831     
Ancient Philosophy I
Topic: Hellenistic Philosophy
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Lehoux          

This course will examine a range of Hellenistic and Roman philosophical texts. Particular focus will be on the overlaps between epistemology, physics, and ethics in these texts.

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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 441/841
Twentieth Century Philosophy
Topic: Origin and History of Analytic Philosophy              
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Mozersky

An examination of major issues in 20th century philosophy. Possible topics to be studied include debates about modality, the development of logic, the natural language movement, pragmatism and verificationism.

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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 845              
Major Figures
Topic: John Dewey
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Fairfield       

This is a seminar course for graduate students on some of the major works of John Dewey (1859-1952). Dewey was one of the preeminent American philosophers of the twentieth century, and his writings include major contributions to most of the major subdisciplines of philosophy. We shall examine four of Dewey’s books and perhaps supplement these with some of his essays. The texts are Reconstruction in Philosophy (1920), The Public and its Problems (1927), A Common Faith (1934), and Experience and Education (1938).

PHIL 459/859
Current Issues in Philosophy of Language I
Topic: Philosophy of Language
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Mercier        

To accommodate the confines of COVID and to better the student experience in the circumstances of remote learning, this year’s Philosophy of Language will go Formal. Using a series of user-friendly chapters produced by the instructor, the course will investigate what a language is as a formal structure, and what kinds of ontological and syntactic categories and formal devices are required for its logical, linguistic, and contextual understanding. In so doing, the course covers the formal notions of functions and relations, arguments, individuals and variables, generalized quantifiers and scope, set theory, grammar theory, hierarchies of infinity (Cantor), incompleteness (Gödel), undecidability, Montague grammar, and intentional semantics.

Requirements: Bi-weekly chapter exercises, midterm test, final exam. Graduates: research project TBD.

Prerequisite: PHIL 260 (may be taken concurrently), or permission of instructor. Preferably some exposure too LINGuistics. 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 LING Major Plan)].

Note: Availability in timetabled slots is expected for this course.

Winter 2023

PHIL 803
Moral Philosophy II
Topic: Ethics/Duties, Constraints, Prerogatives, and Permissions             
WINTER – ONLINE
Instructor: Gordon-Solmon

This seminar will be built around works in progress by early and mid-career moral philosophers. It will consist of six units, two sessions each. A unit’s first session will concentrate on one or more canonical papers on a particular topic. Its second session will focus on a draft manuscript by a philosopher working on that topic, who will attend as our guest to discuss their work with us.

Guest List TBA

PHIL 807       
Current Issues in Social & Political Philosophy III
Topic: Anti-colonial Thought and the Quest of Black Sovereignty
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Ruwe             

This class will center the anti-colonial writings of African, Caribbean and Black British/ American activists between the World Wars up to the 1980s. The class will explore the philosophical theories of Pan-Africanism and Black Nationalism and their role in critiques of colonialism, imperialism and western democracy in the quest for Black sovereignty

Assessment: Students will have a weekly position papers due and a final paper.

PHIL 410/810     
Topics in the History of Philosophy
Topic: How the mind works, according to Indian Philosophy
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Murty            

The six systems of Indian philosophy offer a framework through which the mind and its functions can be studied.  We will focus on three of these systems: Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta as well as aspects of Tantra and study the writings of Vivekananda and Eliade that pertain to these themes expanding on the Yoga philosophy in its widest sense.

Texts/Readings:

  • The Yogas and other Works, by Vivekananda, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1996, New York.
  • Indian Philosophy, An introduction, by M. Ram Murty, Broadview Press, 2012.
  • Yoga, Immortality and Freedom, by Mircea Eliade, Princeton University Press, 1990.
  • Sourcebook of Indian Philosophy, by S. Radhakrishnan and C.A. Moore, Princeton University Press, 1957.
  • Assessment: Grading will be based on two essays and class 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 810              
Topics in the History of Philosophy
Topic: History of Political Thought: Topics and Methods
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Collins           

This course will explore the history of political thought both methodologically and topically. Readings will include primary texts and secondary historical treatments. The chronological focus will be on the formative early modern period. Topics will vary by year, but may include: theories of sovereignty; natural law and natural rights; international law; theories of colonization; slavery; religious governance and toleration; resistance theory; gender and politics.

PHIL 841                              
20th Century Philosophy
Topic: 20th Century Philosophy
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Bakhurst

Topic: Anscombe, Wittgenstein and Austin

 

This seminar will examine in detail Elizabeth Anscombe’s remarkable book, Intention (1957).  We will explore the striking insights the text has to offer into the nature of mind and action, self-consciousness and embodiment; understanding the human life-form; and philosophical method.  We will also compare Anscombe’s conception of linguistic philosophy with that of Wittgenstein (whose writings she translated) and J. L. Austin. Topics will include: the errors of Cartesianism; the analysis of action; intentional action, freedom and responsibility; naturalism and human nature; philosophy, ordinary language and everyday life. 

 

The course will conclude with a one-day ‘conference’ at which students present papers.

 

Readings with include:

 

Anscombe, G.E.M., Intention, plus and selected papers

Wiseman, Rachael, Guide to Anscombe’s Intention

Wittgenstein, Ludwig, Selections from, e.g. The Blue Book and Philosophical Investigations

Austin, J. L., Selections from Philosophical Papers

PHIL 441/841     
Twentieth Century Philosophy
Topic: Critical Phenomenology
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Guenther     

Phenomenology is a philosophical practice of reflecting on the transcendental structures that make lived experience possible and meaningful.  It begins by bracketing the natural attitude, or the naïve assumption that the world exists apart from consciousness, and “reducing” this everyday experience of the world to the basic structures that constitute its meaning and coherence.  In this sense, phenomenology points us in a critical direction.  But where classical phenomenology remains insufficiently critical is in failing to give an equally rigorous account of how contingent historical and social structures also shape our experience, not just empirically or in a piecemeal fashion, but in a way that is so fundamental, we could call it quasi-transcendental.  Structures such as patriarchy, white supremacy, and heteronormativity permeate, organize, and reproduce the natural attitude in ways that go beyond any particular object of thought.  They are not things to be seen, but rather ways of seeing, and even ways of making the world that go unnoticed without a sustained practice of critical reflection to make them visible.  In this seminar, we will learn the basic concepts of classical phenomenology and explore the possibilities for critical phenomenology in the work of Frantz Fanon, Sara Ahmed, Gayle Salamon, Alia Al-Saji, and others.  

Readings:

  • Dan Zahavi.  Husserl’s Phenomenology.  Stanford, CA.: Stanford UP, 2003.
  • Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception. Trans. by Donald Landes. Foreword by Taylor Carmen. Routledge, 2012.  (There is an older translation by Colin Smith, but I recommend the more recent translation.)
  • Gail Weiss, Ann Murphy, and Gayle Salamon, eds. 50 Concepts for a Critical Phenomenology (Northwestern University Press, October 2019). (This book will not be published until October 1, but I have requested rush copies for the bookstore, and I have posted a few of the chapters on onQ.)
  • All other required readings are available on onQ.

Assessment:

  • Presentation (20%)
  • Five Reflection Papers (total 25%)
  • Final Paper (55%)

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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 444/844     
Philosophy in the Community
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Sypnowich  

This is an exciting new course open that provides an opportunity to upper-level Philosophy concentrators (third and fourth year) for a volunteer placement in the community.  Students consider how philosophy can bear upon, and be informed by, the work of a particular community organization, affording a unique learning experience that can also contribute to career development.  The course involves placement hours, occasional class meetings, regular reports and a final research essay that analyses both philosophical literature and the placement experience.

Learning Hours: 120(9S;27Pc;84P)

Prerequisite: Level 3 or above. Students must complete an application and have permission from instructor.

Application form should have deadline of September 19. 2022.

Please retain the blurb at the top of the linked page, which warns the pandemic might mean remote format for some activities, but delete this paragraph on the main page:

More information about the course, community placements, and how to apply can be found at this link.

PHIL 445/845     
Major Figures I
Topic: Ancient Stoicism
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Miller            

This course will be an advanced introduction to ancient Stoicism. It will cover all areas of philosophy – logic, metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. The focus will be on the primary texts. It will include texts from both the Hellenistic era (= c. the first three centuries BCE) as well as some from Roman times. Students will write a number of comment sheets. In addition, they must produce one short paper and one final essay. More information on the course requirements will be provided at the beginning of the semester.

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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 452/852     
Current Issues in Metaphysics
Topic: The philosophy of matter from the pre-Socratics to the current analytical paradigm
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Laycock

The big questions of metaphysics go back 2,500 years and do not appear to have greatly changed over the millennia. The simplest Classical source of traditional metaphysical categories is, unsurprisingly, Aristotle’s little work The Categories; it is sketched out in the few pages that constitute the first five sections of that work. Metaphysically front and center of the work is the category of 'individual substances', material bodies or physical objects, situated in space and time. Probably the most significant impact on the Aristotelian system has occurred with the growth of empiricism during the period of the Scientific Revolution, although the influence of Aristotelian ideas remains strong, and much of Aristotle’s doctrine remains congenial to empiricism. At the same time, the idea of an objective metaphysics is carried forwards through the powerfully rationalist thought and writings of Descartes.

The 20th Century saw a rebirth of metaphysical and specifically ontological enquiry, fueled largely by the development of a new form of logic thanks chiefly to Frege, followed by Russell and Wittgenstein, in the first half of that century, and by Willard Quine in the second half. Quine’s dramatic ontological claim – ‘to be is to be the value of a variable’ – has resonated throughout the discipline. Related studies less influenced by formal logic have been influenced by the more liberal work of Peter Strawson and the predominantly ‘English’ school of analytical philosophy. However, the growth of Linguistics, from the early 20th Century work of Jespersen to the more recent work of Chomsky, and beyond, has played an increasingly valuable role.

In this course, we pursue some of the central questions of metaphysics in light especially of the influence of Quine – who for better or worse has been responsible for shaping the current metaphysical ‘orthodoxy’ in analytical philosophy. However, there is also the influence of the less ‘ideological’ or doctrinaire work of Strawson; and their focus on a category which once dominated the interests of leading pre-Socratics, but was subordinated in Aristotle’s hylomorphic doctrines – that of material stuff or matter – has injected a novel element into metaphysics and ontology, thanks to the founding work in the philosophy of grammar by the distinguished Danish linguist Otto Jespersen.

As preparatory reading, two pieces would definitely repay some attention. They are parts 1 to 5 of Aristotle’s Categories and the contemporary, very thoughtful (and probably not coherent but highly suggestive) piece ‘Particular and General’ by Peter Strawson.

Assessment: Class participation and an essay.

.

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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 466/866     
Topics in Philosophy of Art
Topic: Philosophy of Art
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Knight           

This course takes its inspiration from recent work in environmental aesthetics and the aesthetics of the everyday.

We begin by looking back at the emergence of philosophical aesthetics in the 18th and 19th centuries, focusing on questions of taste and judgement as they apply to works of art but also to the natural environment. The main part of our course will concentrate on the aesthetics of the natural environment, the aesthetics of human environments, and the aesthetics of everyday life.

Along the way we will consider a range of examples including: the influence of 18th and 19th century landscape painting and landscape gardening on the aesthetics of the natural environment; environmental art; and environmental aesthetics. We will also consider just how aesthetic appreciation arises in our everyday lives. Topics here might include food, fashion, and mundane activities associated with domestic spaces.

A key theme running throughout the course concerns the nature of aesthetic experience and how and when aesthetic experience might take on normative implications, as for example when ecologically-informed environmental aesthetics overlaps with environmentalism and when an ethically-informed aesthetics raises questions about, for example, junk and garbage, fast fashion, the “perfect” lawn, and abandoned human-created structures.

Texts/Readings: Course readings will be available through Queen’s Library’s E-reserves and linked to our OnQ site.

Assessment: Assessment will be based on assignments such as weekly comment sheets, a seminar presentation, and a final essay.

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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 473/873     
Topics in Philosophy of Logic
Topic: Modal and Non-Classical Logics
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Mercier        

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.

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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 260 or PHIL 361). 

Course Equivalencies: PHIL462, PHIL473 

PHIL 493/893     
Ethics and the Environment
Topic: Environmental Philosophy
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Smith

This course will engage with a number of key environmental issues such as biodiversity and extinction, preservation or conservation, environmental and social justice, eco-feminism, deep ecology, bioregionalism and ecological restoration drawing on various philosophical traditions in ethics, hermeneutics, political philosophy, ontology, and phenomenology. The aim is to provide both an overview of the variety of topics that can be 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)].

PHIL 870
Topics in Philosophy of Science
Topic: Modeling Approaches to Social Epistemology
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Stinson 

Social Epistemology investigates the epistemic effects of social interactions and social systems. This course will introduce a set of formal methods (game theory, cellular automata, network epistemology models, epistemic landscape models) that have recently become popular tools in this field, and some of the questions that have been explored using these methods. Topics to be covered include the dynamics of scientific communities (are there benefits to diversity? how should labour be divided?), the emergence of unfairness (what conditions lead to racial segregation? why is sexism so prevalent?), the pursuit of democracy (what are the properties of the best democracies? how informed do voters need to be?), and the impact of online misinformation (how does vaccine hesitancy spread?, are there effective methods for reducing the spread of fake news?).

No previous experience with programming or formal methods is expected, however willingness to learn is necessary. Projects will be done in groups that include computing students, political philosophy students, and philosophy of science students.

Texts/Readings

Cailin O’Connor, The Origins of Unfairness

Other readings TBA

Assessment

 Group project, presentations, essays

PHIL 989                             
Clinical Practicum in Biomedical Ethics
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Campbell/Butler

1. COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course is intended for graduate students in philosophy who are interested in learning about a career in clinical ethics and how bioethical principles and issues are applied in a health care setting. Students will learn about the role of clinical ethics within healthcare organizations and learn about the real-life ethical issues and challenges that clinicians, managers, staff and patients deal with on daily basis. Students will have the opportunity to discuss clinical and organizational ethical issues with the Kingston Health Sciences Centre Ethicist, and attend virtual Kingston Health Sciences Centre organizational meetings, ethics consultations, ethics education presentations, regional ethics meetings and presentations, and review KHSC policies and protocols. Students will learn about specific clinical ethics issues including pandemic ethics frameworks, resource allocation issues, consent and capacity, substitute decision-making, autonomy and its limits, medical assistance in dying, end of life issues, moral distress, and trauma informed care. Through course readings, discussion and participating in virtual meetings and presentations, students will have the unique opportunity to see applied ethics in action.

2. COURSE STRUCTURE AND REQUIREMENTS

This course focuses on experiential learning and features classroom discussions, virtual hospital and community committee participation, and virtual hospital education sessions and presentations.

1. Classroom Activities

  • Read required literature
  • Complete assigned tasks
  • Participate in class discussion
  • Attend six bi-weekly seminar meetings

2.  Clinical Activities

Students will have the opportunity to participate in virtual ethics consults, meetings and debriefings and then share observations and analysis of these meetings with course instructors. The ethical issues which will be addressed in these consults and meetings include:

  • Clarification of ethical duties and their limits
  • Fair distribution of limited resources
  • Balancing autonomy and safety
  • Clarifying patient values and goals of care
  • Determining reasonable accommodation
  • Responding to moral distress

3. Committee Activities

Attend virtual committee meetings in hospital and in the community. Opportunities include meetings of the:

  • KHSC Ethics Service
  • KHSC Advance Care Planning Steering Committee
  • KHSC MAiD Internal Resource Group
  • KHSC Professional Practice Committee
  • KHSC Patient and Family Advisory Council
  • South East Bioethics Table
  • South Eastern Ontario Regional Ethics Network

4. Presentation/Teaching Activities

Students will have the opportunity to attend virtual KHSC and community ethics education sessions. Opportunities for presentations and teaching include:

  • Ethics Half-Days for KSHC Medical Residents
  • KHSC Learning Rounds
  • KHSC Palliative Care Rounds
  • KHSC Mortality & Morbidity Rounds
  • KHSC Psychiatry Rounds
  • KHSC Addictions Journal Club
  • South Eastern Ontario Regional Ethics Network Presentations

3. COURSE ASSESSMENT

While attendance and participation in class seminars, hospital virtual meetings and educational activities is mandatory, students can choose one of the following assignment options:

  • academic paper
  • case report and KHSC ethics blog article
  • ethics presentation to hospital staff or community partners

NOTE: Participation in the course will be capped at a maximum of three students to ensure that each student has an individualized learning experience. Potential students will also be interviewed by the Ethicist to determine suitability for the course.

As students will be participating in and privy to issues which will involve confidential patient and hospital information, students must sign a KHSC confidentiality waiver and have a criminal reference check from Kingston Police in order to participate in the course.

Contact David.Campbell@kingstonhsc.ca to obtain permission to enroll in the course.

Fall 2021

Rahul Kumar

FALL - ON CAMPUS

An examination of major issues in contemporary moral philosophy. Topics to be studied may include contractualism, objectivity, practical reason, relativism and value realism.

More detailed course description coming soon!

Will Kymlicka

FALL - ON CAMPUS 

Interspecies Politics

There is growing recognition of animals’ moral status both within moral philosophy and at the level of public opinion. However, the growing recognition of animals’ moral status has not translated into any real change in their political status. Animals are not represented in politics, are not seen as political actors or as political stakeholders, and are essentially ignored when political decisions are made. They also remain almost entirely invisible within political philosophy. Whenever political philosophers discuss the core concepts of our field - democracy, representation, deliberation, legitimacy, accountability, citizenship, the people, the public sphere, claims-making, the demos, popular sovereignty, and self-government – animals are ignored. This course will explore why it has proven so difficult to translate moral status to political status, and what this tells us about the nature and purpose of “politics”. We will also explore recent efforts to theorize what an “interspecies politics” would look like, and to reimagine our relations with animals as political relationships.

  • Texts/Readings: Available through library e-reserve
  • Assessment: Seminar presentation; comment sheets; and term paper

Christine Sypnowich

FALL - ON CAMPUS

G.A. Cohen: Liberty, Justice and Equality

G.A. Cohen (1941-2009) was a remarkable philosopher who produced writings of rigour and insight on some of the most fundamental ideas of political theory: liberty, justice, and equality.  Moreover, owing to his engagement with both Marxist and liberal traditions, and even a foray into conservatism, his intellectual career was unusually wide-ranging.  An outstanding scholar and an exemplary teacher, Cohen enjoyed an exceptional international reputation for his particular brand of rigorous socialist political philosophy.  Throughout his work, Cohen trenchantly argued that fundamental ideals at the centre of the most influential political theories – liberty for Nozick, egalitarian justice for Rawls – were destined to remain unrealised given those theories’ commitment to private property and the market.  In response, he articulated the constituents of a radical alternative that reinvigorated the socialist ideal.  In all these contributions, Cohen was able to impart to radical politics an uncustomary analytical precision and intellectual acuity.

Moreover, Cohen was unique in the extent to which his personality and personal history shaped his philosophical contribution.  Who could not be intrigued by the story of growing up in a Jewish Communist community in working class Montreal, and then finding dazzling success on the British philosophical scene, as a graduate student, a lecturer and then Reader at University College London, and finally as the holder of a prestigious chair in Oxford?  Moreover, Cohen was a warm and generous person, with an irrepressible sense of fun and mischief, humanity and kindness, evidence of which peppers his otherwise often austere analytical prose.

This course examines Cohen’s corpus, reading key works from throughout his career, some complementary texts, as well as in chapters of a draft manuscript being prepared by the instructor. 

Texts: An array of readings, to be accessed via Stauffer Library’s EReserve system or via pdfs from the instructor.

Assessment:

  • 20% participation grade based on 10 mandatory, weekly, one-page comment sheets
  • 30% 3 short oral presentations based on comment sheets
  • 50% final essay  

Course structure:

This is a seminar, so all are expected to come to class prepared to talk about the course material.  Each week at least 3 students will be expected to give a short (5-10 minutes) talk to the class drawing on their comment sheet, but all students should be prepared to participate in the discussion.

Contacting the Instructor: Happy to arrange a phone call, Zoom/Teams meeting – just email: christine.sypnowich@queensu.ca

J. Thomas / G. Webber

FALL - ON CAMPUS

This Colloquium course explores new work in legal and political philosophy. Once every two weeks, a legal, moral, or political philosopher will present a paper falling within the general boundaries of the Colloquium’s ambit.

In alternate weeks, students will meet with the Colloquium convenors (Professors Thomas and Webber) to prepare for the forthcoming session, examining the paper in depth. Students registered for the course will include law students and graduate students in philosophy and political studies.

Student evaluation will be a combination of participation (40%), six short reaction pieces (each worth 5% for a total of 30%), and a term paper (30%). Participation will be evaluated by contributions during the seminar discussion in advance of the session with the author as well as engagement with the author during the session in which the author presents his or her paper. 

Please note space in the colloquium is limited and priority will be given to students in the Political and Legal Thought specialization.

Ram Murty

FALL - ON CAMPUS

How the mind works, according to Indian Philosophy

The six systems of Indian philosophy offer a framework through which the mind and its functions can be studied.  We will focus on three of these systems: Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta as well as aspects of Tantra and study the writings of Vivekananda and Eliade that pertain to these themes expanding on the Yoga philosophy in its widest sense.

  • Texts/Readings:
    • The Yogas and other Works, by Vivekananda, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1996, New York.
    • Indian Philosophy, An introduction, by M. Ram Murty, Broadview Press, 2012.
    • Yoga, Immortality and Freedom, by Mircea Eliade, Princeton University Press, 1990.
    • Sourcebook of Indian Philosophy, by S. Radhakrishnan and C.A. Moore, Princeton University Press, 1957.
  • Assessment: Grading will be based on two essays and class participation.

Darren Lehoux

FALL - ON CAMPUS

This course will examine a range of Hellenistic and Roman philosophical texts, including Lucretius' On the Nature of Things and Cicero's On the Nature of the Gods. Particular focus will be on the overlaps between epistemology, physics, and ethics in these texts.

More detailed course description coming soon!

Jon Miller

FALL - ON CAMPUS

Spinoza

This course will offer an advanced introduction to Spinoza’s Ethics.  The focus will be on metaphysics and epistemology.  As time allows, we will proceed to consider Spinoza’s actual moral philosophy.

Elliot Paul

FALL - ON CAMPUS 

Descartes

This course will examine Descartes’s philosophy in two broad domains. The first domain is his epistemology, which is centered on clear and distinct perception. We will examine Descartes’s answers to questions like these: What are perceptions? Do we have intellectual perceptions in addition to sensory ones? What does it mean for a perception to be clear and distinct? When a perception is clear and distinct, Descartes thinks it is thereby indubitable, infallible, and provides certain knowledge. What does he mean by these claims, and to what extent is he correct?

The second domain we’ll study is Descartes’s conception of the human being. This will involve metaphysical issues about the nature of the human being with a special focus on our condition as embodied beings. We will also delve into questions in ethics and moral psychology, especially concerning the nature of our passions or emotions and the role they play in living a virtuous life.

In addition to Descartes’s most celebrated work, the Meditations on First Philosophy, we will also read selections from his Rules for the Direction of the Mind, the Discourse on the Method, the Principles of Philosophy, the Passions of the Soul, and Descartes’s correspondence.

Assessment:

  • Short reading responses
  • 2 longer papers
  • Participation
  • Seminar presentation (for grad students)

Prerequisites:

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)].

Josh Mozersky 

FALL - ON CAMPUS

Structure and the Observer

For 2000 years, Aristotle’s views dominated philosophical and scientific thinking in the West.  A central feature of the Aristotelian picture is that nature behaves according to teleological principles: material objects have purposes and act on the basis of sympathies.  On such an account, there is no particular difficulty in finding a place for human beings in the natural order, since our rational capacities for speech and thought can be assumed to arise straightforwardly from the reason-like principles that govern ordinary matter in space and time.  Hence, there is continuity between natural and human explanation.

The scientific revolution of the 17th Century changed all of this.  Instead of teleological explanations of motion, early modern scientists and philosophers offered a mechanical conception of change, according to which material bodies follow mathematically strict laws that make no reference to goals or purposes.  As a result of this overturning of the Aristotelian view, the existence of uniquely human characteristics, such as linguistic creativity and the recognition of norms, came to seem quite mysterious – how can a mechanical world of causes be combined with the normative realm of reasons?  In short, what room can we find for human nature in the natural world? 

This conflict leads to two profound philosophical questions.  First, what is the relationship between the structure of the world and our human perspective on it?  Given that human investigation into reality is guided by adherence to normative concepts such as relevance, evidence, logic, and reasonableness, it is unclear how such a system can track the properties of a reality that is causal-mechanical and, therefore, devoid of normative structure (there is no sense in which material change is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’). 

This leads to a second, more general, question: can we explain human reasoning in terms that are consistent with our theories of space, time, and matter?  Assuming we are physical beings, it would seem that this is a necessity, but it is unclear whether the two worldviews can be reconciled given the differences in their underlying logic.  If they cannot, does this entail that we are not part of the natural world?  Is it even possible to construct a picture of reality that includes ourselves and our perspective on that reality?

This course will be a detailed examination of these two questions taking into account philosophical, scientific, mathematical, and linguistic aspects of the problems.  No scientific background is presupposed but a willingness to engage with scientific and formal material is necessary.

  • Texts/Readings: TBD
  • Assessment: Class participation and essay
  • Attendance Expected in Timetabled Slots: Yes

 Adele Mercier

FALL - ON CAMPUS

Philosophy of Language and Thought

To accommodate the confines of COVID and to better the student experience in the circumstances of remote learning, this year’s Philosophy of Language will go Formal. Using a series of user-friendly chapters produced by the instructor, the course will investigate what a language is as a formal structure, and what kinds of ontological and syntactic categories and formal devices are required for its logical, linguistic, and contextual understanding. In so doing, the course covers the formal notions of functions and relations, arguments, individuals and variables, generalized quantifiers and scope, set theory, grammar theory, hierarchies of infinity (Cantor), incompleteness (Gödel), undecidability, Montague grammar, and intensional semantics.

  • Requirements: Bi-weekly chapter exercises, midterm test, final exam. Graduates: research project TBD.
  • Note: Availability in timetabled slots is expected for this course.

Paul Fairfield

FALL - ON CAMPUS

An examination of major issues in hermeneutics or the theory of interpretation. Possible topics to be studied include the history of hermeneutics, objectivity and relativism, critiques of ideology, semiotics, and pragmatism.

More detailed course description coming soon!

Winter 2022

Kerah Gordon-Solmon

WINTER — HYBRID (Presumptively, sessions without guests will meet on campus.  Sessions with guests will take place over Zoom.)

Current Themes in Moral Philosophy

This seminar will be built around works in progress by early and mid-career moral philosophers. It will consist of six units, two sessions each. A unit’s first session will concentrate on one or more canonical papers on a particular topic. Its second session will focus on a draft manuscript by a philosopher working on that topic, who will attend as our guest to discuss their work with us.

The (provisional) guest-roster for Winter 2022 is:

  • January 18:  Daniel Muñoz (UNC Chapel Hill)
  • February 1:  Fiona Woollard (University of Southampton)
  • Febuary 15: TBA
  • March 7: Sukaina Hirji (University of Pennsylvania) **This will be a one-off Monday-evening session**
  • March 22: Renee Jorgensen (University of Michigan/Harvard University)
  • April 5: Theron Pummer (University of St. Andrew’s)

Special Topic: Public Philosophy

A.J. Wendland

WINTER (3.0)

Public philosophy runs on a spectrum from the popularization of philosophical ideas to the application of those ideas to daily life. This suggests public philosophy presupposes the esoteric work done by philosophers within the academy, but in a way that is consistent with the practice of Socrates, public engagement is simultaneously an inspiration for much academic research. In short, there is a dialectical relation between academic and public philosophy insofar as analyzing the world around us through the lens of our academic work often raises new questions and motivates new academic research.  This course aims to teach senior undergraduate and graduate students how to translate the technical terminology of academic philosophy into publicly accessible prose and show them how suitably clarified philosophical ideas can be used to interpret current affairs and respond to the social and political problems we confront. The course is also designed to prepare students to work alongside editors, producers, journalists, and other media professionals as well as illustrate how the business of popular philosophy operates. Lastly, and with a little luck, this course will stimulate student interest in academic philosophy and equally indicate the way they can use philosophy to enhance the well-being of their local communities.

To achieve these aims, this class will involve a mix of academic and practical work. Six seminars will be dedicated to the analysis and discussion of philosophical texts that have a bearing on current affairs, and six seminars will be used to help students design and produce pieces of popular philosophical writing. The course will be run in conjunction with a regular philosophy column in a local paper or magazine, and each student will have the chance to commission, edit, write, and publish a piece of popular philosophy.

Assessment: Students will be assessed on the basis of their short essays, class participation, and editorial work on the popular philosophy column run out of a local paper or magazine.

Meena Krishnamurthy

WINTER - ON CAMPUS

Martin Luther King, Jr. Now

The classes will be synchronous.

With the resurgence of racism across the globe there is renewed interested in the political philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This course is an attempt to rediscover King’s ideas by shedding light on three of the most important and misunderstood elements of King’s mature thought: his analysis of racism and its causes; his political theory of direct action and civil disobedience; and his understanding of the place of ethical virtues in activism and social life. In interpreting King’s political philosophy, we will consider the work of leading critics and interpreters. We will also consider the relevance of King’s philosophy for Canadians by considering it in relation to Canadian anti-racist struggles.

  • Texts/Readings: Among other things, selections from Martin Luther King Jr.’s, Why We Can’t Wait; Strength to Love; and Where Do We Go From Here. Brandon Terry and Tommie Shelby’s, To Shape a New World. Selections from Meena Krishnamurthy’s Emotions of Nonviolent Resistance.
  • Assessment: Weekly discussion questions, at least one class presentation/video; 2 papers or 1 longer paper

D. Ruwe

WINTER - ON CAMPUS

Racial Destiny in 18-19th Centuries Black Thought

This is class is a survey of 18th-19th Black Political Thought. We will attempt to understand how Black philosophers addressed the question of racial destiny; what role Black intellect and gifts had to play in creating humane structures of civilization that challenged western dehumanization of Black people in slavery. As such we will map out genealogies of Black thought and the organizations that arose from Black activism in the age of slavery.

Cross-listed with POLS 853

Dolleen Manning

WINTER - ON CAMPUS

Worlding Possible Worlds: Futurity, VR, and Anishinaabe Ontology

This course engages graduate students in the philosophy, politics and aesthetics of worldmaking, running in its entirety in virtual world platform (i.e. Second Life). We take an interdisciplinary approach toward constructing/theorizing new and radically different possible worlds with socially transformative politics. Drawing on decolonial thought, Indigenous knowledge, Anishinaabe ontology (cosmology), Sci-fi, XR arts (such as virtual reality), and continental philosophy. Responding to current global crises, as well as a pervading fatigue and sense of disillusionment with liberal narratives of progress and the failed projects of 20th century utopianism, students will work collaboratively to design imaginary alternative worlds and engage in immersive storytelling that is responsive to course readings and contemporary issues in such spheres as settler colonialism, Indigenous resurgence, mnidoo-worlding, other-than-human interrelationality, Indigenous and black futurity, as well as critical race, disability justice, and queer critiques. There will be opportunities for cross-dialogue and co-learning with Cinema and Media Arts graduate students in a related course held at York University, who will be sharing our virtual space. The course involves lectures, seminar discussions, presentations, and research or research creation.

Lisa Guenther

ON CAMPUS - WINTER

Abolition and Decolonization

Widespread protests in response to the murder of George Floyd have shifted the public conversation about police violence from reform to abolition.  But the call to defund and abolish the police did not come out of nowhere; it is rooted in centuries of Black and Indigenous resistance and refusal. In this seminar, we will study some key abolitionist (and) decolonial texts in the context of recent blogs, podcasts, and webinars on current movements to defund and abolish police and prisons. The aim of the course is to situate our present moment in relation to a longer arc of decolonial abolitionist praxis (understood as the relation between theory, action, and reflection) in order to recover and co-create methods for dismantling carceral-colonial institutions and building freer, healthier, and more just communities. Throughout the semester, we will reflect on the map as a colonial instrument of domination, but also as a creative tool for navigating oppressive structures and sketching concrete alternatives to the world that slavery and colonialism have built. We will also activate our collective power to dream, not as an escapist fantasy but as a critical research method that moves beyond an analysis of what is wrong with the world to experiment with ways of making it better.   

  • Texts/Readings: 
    • Dionne Brand, A Map to the Door of No Return. Toronto: Vintage Canada, 2002. ISBN 9780385258920

    • Nick Estes, Our History is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance. London: Verso Press, 2019. ISBN 1786636727

    • Saidiya Hartman, Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments. New York: W. W. Norton, 2020. ISBN 0393357627

    • All other required readings will be available on onQ.

  • Assessment:
    • 10 Weekly Discussion Board Posts (worth 20%)

    • Virtual Presentation: Mapping and Dreaming (worth 30%)

    • Final Project (18-20 pp, or equivalent; worth 50%)

David Bakhurst

WINTER - ON CAMPUS

20th Century Philosophy: Iris Murdoch – morality and the inner life

This class will explore the philosophical writings of Iris Murdoch, together with work by important like-minded contemporaries, such as Elizabeth Anscombe and Phillipa Foot, and by a number of influential thinkers who were inspired by Murdoch, such as David Wiggins and John McDowell.  Topics will include moral truth and the justification of moral belief; the importance of the inner life; self and meaning; moral vision and moral perception; ethical particularism and moral principles; moral education and improvement. 

Christine Sypnowich

WINTER - ON CAMPUS

This is an exciting new course open that provides an opportunity to upper-level Philosophy concentrators (third and fourth year) for a volunteer placement in the community.  Students consider how philosophy can bear upon, and be informed by, the work of a particular community organization, affording a unique learning experience that can also contribute to career development.  The course involves placement hours, occasional class meetings, regular reports and a final research essay that analyses both philosophical literature and the placement experience. 

  • Students must complete an application and have permission from instructor
  • Deadline for applications is September 18

More information about the course, community placements, and how to apply can be found at this link.

 

Instructor: Henry Laycock

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

The big questions of metaphysics go back 2,500 years and do not appear to have greatly changed over the millennia. The simplest Classical source of traditional metaphysical categories is, unsurprisingly, Aristotle’s little work The Categories; it is sketched out in the few pages that constitute the first five sections of that work. Metaphysically front and center of the work is the category of 'individual substances', material bodies or physical objects, situated in space and time. Probably the most significant impact on the Aristotelian system has occurred with the growth of empiricism during the period of the Scientific Revolution, although the influence of Aristotelian ideas remains strong, and much of Aristotle’s doctrine remains congenial to empiricism. At the same time, the idea of an objective metaphysics is carried forwards through the powerfully rationalist thought and writings of Descartes.

The 20th Century saw a rebirth of metaphysical and specifically ontological enquiry, fueled largely by the development of a new form of logic thanks chiefly to Frege, followed by Russell and Wittgenstein, in the first half of that century, and by Willard Quine in the second half. Quine’s dramatic ontological claim – ‘to be is to be the value of a variable’ – has resonated throughout the discipline. Related studies less influenced by formal logic have been influenced by the more liberal work of Peter Strawson and the predominantly ‘English’ school of analytical philosophy. However the growth of Linguistics, from the early 20th Century work of Jespersen to the more recent work of Chomsky, and beyond, has played an increasingly valuable role.

In this course, we pursue some of the central questions of metaphysics in light especially of the influence of Quine – who for better or worse has been responsible for shaping the current metaphysical ‘orthodoxy’ in analytical philosophy. However there is also the influence of the less ‘ideological’ or doctrinaire work of Strawson; and their focus on a category which once dominated the interests of leading pre-Socratics, but was subordinated in Aristotle’s hylomorphic doctrines – that of material stuff or matter – has injected a novel element into metaphysics and ontology, thanks to the founding work in the philosophy of grammar by the distinguished Danish linguist Otto Jespersen.

           As preparatory reading, two pieces would definitely repay some attention. They are parts 1 to 5 of Aristotle’s Categories and the contemporary, very thoughtful and (probably not coherent but highly suggestive) piece ‘Particular and General’ by Peter Strawson.

Assessment: Class participation and an essay

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)].

Attendance Expected in Timetabled Slots: Yes

Deborah Knight

WINTER - ON CAMPUS 

This course takes its inspiration from recent work in environmental aesthetics and the aesthetics of the everyday.

We begin by looking back at the emergence of philosophical aesthetics in the 18th and 19th centuries, focusing on questions of taste and judgement as they apply to works of art but also to the natural environment. The main part of our course will concentrate on the aesthetics of the natural environment, the aesthetics of human environments, and the aesthetics of everyday life.

Along the way we will consider a range of examples including: the influence of 18th and 19th century landscape painting and landscape gardening on the aesthetics of the natural environment; the question of ruins, memorials, and works of public art in the human environment; environmental art; as well as the smaller-scale environments and the common objects and activities associated with our mundane, everyday lives.

A key theme running throughout the course concerns the nature of aesthetic experience and how and when aesthetic experience might take on normative implications, as for example when ecologically-informed environmental aesthetics overlaps with environmentalism and when an ethically-informed aesthetics of the human environment raises questions about, for example, the value and preservation of ruins and abandoned human-created structures.

  • Texts/Readings: Course readings will be available through Queen’s Library’s E-reserves and linked to our OnQ site.
  • Assessment: Assessment will be based on assignments such as weekly comment sheets, a seminar presentation, and a final essay.

Catherine Stinson

WINTER - ON CAMPUS*

  • Dr. Stinson commutes between Kingston and Toronto, so local lockdowns/travel restrictions may result in the need for some meetings to be moved online.

Third Wave Artificial Intelligence

This course explores recent advances and methods in Artificial Intelligence (AI) from the perspective of value-informed philosophy of science. We will consider not just epistemic and metaphysical questions about recent AI, but also the social context in which the science is being done, and the moral implications.

Three major themes will be explored:

  1. Surveillance: Is loss of privacy an inevitable consequence of convenience? Who benefits from biometric surveillance, and who is harmed? What are the prospects for the scientific project of making perfect predictions through statistical correlations on big data?
  2. Tech Culture: How are the ethics of tech products connected to workplace equity and Silicon Valley culture? Should tech workers bear moral responsibility for how their work is used? Can algorithms be racist, and how do they get that way?
  3. Interrogating Intelligence: Does improvement on benchmark AI tasks raise existential risks? Whose intelligence is included in and excluded from the aims of AI? Why is nouveau eugenics so popular in AI, and does it “work”?

Texts/Readings:

We will be reading chapters from:

  • Alison Adam, Artificial Knowing: Gender and the Thinking Machine
  • Toby Beauchamp, Going Stealth: Transgender Politics and US Surveillance Practices
  • Simone Browne, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness
  • Kate Crawford, Atlas of AI
  • Heather Douglas, Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal plus readings available online, and a schedule of science fiction film pairings.

Assessment: 

10%                 Contributions to class discussion OR Presentation
60%                 3 x Academic paper OR Research project
10%                 Popular essay draft
10%                 Peer review
10%                 Popular essay

Readings and assessments are subject to change.

Mick Smith

WINTER - ON CAMPUS

This course will engage with a number of key environmental issues such as biodiversity and extinction, preservation or conservation, environmental and social justice, eco-feminism, deep ecology, bioregionalism and ecological restoration drawing on various philosophical traditions in ethics, hermeneutics, political philosophy, ontology, and phenomenology. The aim is to provide both an overview of the variety of topics that can be 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.

 

J. Butler / D. Campbell

WINTER - ON CAMPUS

1. COURSE DESCRIPTION

This course is intended for graduate students in philosophy who are interested in learning about a career in clinical ethics and how bioethical principles and issues are applied in a health care setting. Students will learn about the role of clinical ethics within healthcare organizations and learn about the real-life ethical issues and challenges that clinicians, managers, staff and patients deal with on daily basis. Students will have the opportunity to discuss clinical and organizational ethical issues with the Kingston Health Sciences Centre Ethicist, and attend virtual Kingston Health Sciences Centre organizational meetings, ethics consultations, ethics education presentations, regional ethics meetings and presentations, and review KHSC policies and protocols. Students will learn about specific clinical ethics issues including pandemic ethics frameworks, resource allocation issues, consent and capacity, substitute decision-making, autonomy and its limits, medical assistance in dying, end of life issues, moral distress, and trauma informed care. Through course readings, discussion and participating in virtual meetings and presentations, students will have the unique opportunity to see applied ethics in action.

2. COURSE STRUCTURE AND REQUIREMENTS

This course focuses on experiential learning and features classroom discussions, virtual hospital and community committee participation, and virtual hospital education sessions and presentations.

1. Classroom Activities

  • Read required literature
  • Complete assigned tasks
  • Participate in class discussion
  • Attend six bi-weekly seminar meetings

2.  Clinical Activities

Students will have the opportunity to participate in virtual ethics consults, meetings and debriefings and then share observations and analysis of these meetings with course instructors. The ethical issues which will be addressed in these consults and meetings include:

  • Clarification of ethical duties and their limits
  • Fair distribution of limited resources
  • Balancing autonomy and safety
  • Clarifying patient values and goals of care
  • Determining reasonable accommodation
  • Responding to moral distress

3. Committee Activities

Attend virtual committee meetings in hospital and in the community. Opportunities include meetings of the:

  • KHSC Ethics Service
  • KHSC Advance Care Planning Steering Committee
  • KHSC MAiD Internal Resource Group
  • KHSC Professional Practice Committee
  • KHSC Patient and Family Advisory Council
  • South East Bioethics Table
  • South Eastern Ontario Regional Ethics Network

4. Presentation/Teaching Activities

Students will have the opportunity to attend virtual KHSC and community ethics education sessions. Opportunities for presentations and teaching include:

  • Ethics Half-Days for KSHC Medical Residents
  • KHSC Learning Rounds
  • KHSC Palliative Care Rounds
  • KHSC Mortality & Morbidity Rounds
  • KHSC Psychiatry Rounds
  • KHSC Addictions Journal Club
  • South Eastern Ontario Regional Ethics Network Presentations

3. COURSE ASSESSMENT

While attendance and participation in class seminars, hospital virtual meetings and educational activities is mandatory, students can choose one of the following assignment options:

  • academic paper
  • case report and KHSC ethics blog article
  • ethics presentation to hospital staff or community partners

NOTE: Participation in the course will be capped at a maximum of three students to ensure that each student has an individualized learning experience. Potential students will also be interviewed by the Ethicist to determine suitability for the course.

As students will be participating in and privy to issues which will involve confidential patient and hospital information, students must sign a KHSC confidentiality waiver and have a criminal reference check from Kingston Police in order to participate in the course.

Contact David.Campbell@kingstonhsc.ca to obtain permission to enroll in the course.