Department of Philosophy

DEPARTMENT OF

Philosophy

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200 Level Courses

These are courses and descriptions for 2019-20.

 

PHIL 203 - Science and Society (online) - M.CR.Smith
WINTER - ONLINE (3.0)
Philosophical issues-both epistemological and ethical-involved in specific debates about the relationship between science and social issues. The course may focus, for instance, on recent ‘popular’ sociobiology efforts by biologists and others to establish scientific theories of human nature and human potential.
This course has two main, and connected, goals: the first is to introduce some of the main conceptual tools from the philosophy of science, and the second is to take those tools to the critical analysis of case studies in which science and broader society are importantly entwined.
Texts/Readings:
CDS reserves the right to make changes to the required material list as received by the instructor before the course starts. Please refer to the Campus Bookstore website at http://www.campusbookstore.com/Textbooks/Search-Engine to obtain the most up-to-date list of required materials for this course before purchasing them.
All the readings are available either on the eReserve for this course, or in PDF downloads on onQ, or in the form of my Unit Notes. There is no textbook to buy. The Unit Notes supplement and guide you through the readings. I recommend you read the relevant Notes section before reading the articles. Each section concludes with some study and discussion questions.
Assessment:
30% - Online Discussions
20% - Quizzes
20% - Short Paper
30% - Final Proctored Exam
**Evaluation Subject to Change**
Students must write their exam on the day and time scheduled by the University. The start time may vary slightly depending on the off-campus exam centre. Do not schedule vacations, appointments, etc., during the exam period.
Learning Hours:
To complete the readings, assignments, and course activities, students can expect to spend on average, about 10 hours per week (120 hours per term) on the course.120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL

 

PHIL 204 - Life, Death, Meaning – Watts
FALL (3.0)
Many people wish to live a meaningful life. But what exactly does this mean? Is it even coherent to speak of a life as being full (or void) of meaning? And if it is, does meaning rest in the eye of the beholder or is it open to objective evaluation? Furthermore, are there necessary conditions (e.g. social, cultural or economic) to give a life meaning? And how might the fact of human mortality shape our thinking on the subject? In this course we will consider a variety of philosophical texts, ancient and contemporary, to help us think through these and other relevant questions. We will also, when useful, borrow insights offered by the social sciences. Our aim will be to grapple with the question of meaning in life, both in the abstract and as it relates to our everyday experience.
Texts/Readings:
TBD
Assessment:
1)   three short (750-1000 word) comment sheets
2)   a mid-term, in-class test (30%);
3)   and a (2000-2500 word) final essay (40%)
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL.

 

PHIL 247 - Practical Ethics – Krishnamurthy
WINTER (3.0)

“Practical ethics” concerns the question of how to put our ethical obligations into practice. To answer this question, we must not only engage in philosophical theorizing - to determine the nature of our ethical obligations - but we must also engage in empirical analysis - to determine how we can effectively satisfy these obligations. In this class, we will be especially concerned with practical ethics as it relates to global economic inequality. Our primary focus will be on the moral question of whether we should help the global poor. We will also consider whether we can, in fact, help the global poor. We will consider research in philosophy, history, development economics, political science, and social psychology. The goal of this class is to give students concrete information that they can use to determine how they should think about and react to the moral problem of global poverty. 
Texts/Readings:
Among other things, we will read articles by Peter Singer, Richard Miller, Martha Nussbaum, Sunstein and Thaler, and Sendhil Mullainathan
Assessment:
Daily quizzes, 3 short writing assignments, 1 final paper
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL.

 

PHIL 250 - Epistemology and Metaphysics – Paul/Mozersky
FALL/WINTER (6.0)
Fall:
Epistemology is the philosophical study of the nature, scope, and sources of human knowledge, and of related phenomena such as evidence and justification for belief. We will investigate competing answers to the following epistemological questions: What is knowledge and how does it differ mere true belief? To what extent can we really have knowledge, in the face of various skeptical arguments? What provides us with justification for holding a belief: is it merely a matter of having evidence that the belief is true, or can we be justified in holding a belief contrary to our evidence if doing so would benefit us in some way? How does implicit bias affect justification for belief? Do inequities in society result in epistemic injustice toward disadvantaged social groups?
Winter: Metaphysics is the philosophical study of the most general features of reality.  Put briefly, metaphysics asks: ‘What exists?’ and ‘What are the basic characteristics of that which exists?’  In the first part of this term we shall investigate conflicting accounts of some of the most fundamental features of reality, such as: the nature of time; persistence and identity; possibility and necessity; the nature of properties.  Metaphysics is sufficiently general and abstract that empirical verification of metaphysical theories appears to be out of the question.  If, therefore, we are to engage in metaphysics, the following epistemological question inevitably arises: how, if at all, is metaphysical knowledge possible?  In the last part of this term we shall investigate the nature of a priori knowledge, asking: (1) what it is supposed to be; and (2) how, if at all, it is possible.
Texts/Readings:
TBD
Assessment:
TBD
Learning Hours:
240 (72L;168P)
Prerequisite:
(A GPA of 2.0 in 6.0 units in PHIL) or (a grade of B‐ in 3.0 units in PHIL and registration in a COGS Plan).

 

PHIL 256 – Existentialism – Guenther
FALL (3.0)
Existentialism is more than a theory; it’s a practice of radical freedom and responsibility.  Inspired by Nietzsche’s perspectivism and by the phenomenological tradition, existentialism takes the concrete experience of individual consciousness as the starting point for philosophy.  Many existentialists hold that the world, in itself, is meaningless and absurd; there is no God and no universal measure of right and wrong, good and evil.  In the absence of objective standards for knowledge and ethics, individuals must choose or create their own meaning, accepting full responsibility for the implications of their choices.  This includes the responsibility to affirm and support the freedom of others; to do otherwise would be “bad faith,” or a refusal to affirm the radical freedom of all human beings.  Ultimately, the practice of individual freedom demands a struggle for collective liberation from oppressive structures such as sexism, racism, and economic inequality, which block the full expression of existential freedom and responsibility.  In this course, we will study several influential existentialists, including Sartre, Beauvoir, and Fanon. 
Texts/Readings:
Beauvoir, Simone de. The Ethics of Ambiguity. Philosophical Library/Open Road, 2015. (also available online at https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/ethics/de-beauvoir/ambiguity/)
Denoon Cumming, Robert (ed.). The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre. Routledge, 2013.
All other required readings are available on onQ.
Assessment:  

3 essays; attendance; participation
Learning Hours:
120 (72l;168p)
Prerequisite:
Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL
 

 

PHIL 257 – Ethics – Leighton/Kumar
FALL/WINTER (6.0)

A study of problems in moral and/or political philosophy from the ancient or early modern period to the present.
Fall Term: This half of the course will be an introduction to moral philosophy through Plato and Aristotle.  Works to be examined are Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.  Sample topics to be considered include the possibility of an ultimate aim, responses to moral skepticism, the relative importance and place of virtue, emotion and happiness in a good life.
Winter Term: Modern moral philosophy is centrally concerned with questions concerning the nature of moral obligation and moral wrongdoing. In the first part of the course, we will consider three of the most important ones.  First, why is it that some ways of treating people are morally wrong? Second, how can we know whether what we are thinking of doing would be morally wrong? And third, what explains why most of us try and avoid wrongdoing? We will think through these matters by examining how they arise and are addressed in the work of Hume, Kant, and Mill. In the second part of the course, we will turn to questions about the nature of value and moral relativism. Course Structure: Classes will consist of lectures with some opportunity for discussion. 
Texts/Readings:
Fall term:
Plato, The Republic; Aristotle, The Nicomachean Ethics
Winter Term: David Hume, A Treatise on Human Nature; Immanuel Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals
J.S. Mill, Utilitarianism
Further readings will be posted on OnQ
Assessment:
Fall Term:
Assessment is based on an in class exam, a paper and a December examination.
Winter Term: 2 short papers and a final exam
Learning Hours:
240 (76L;168P)
Prerequisite:  
A GPA of 2.0 in 6.0 units in PHIL.

 

PHIL 259 - Critical Thinking – Salay
FALL - ONLINE (3.0)
In this class you will learn how to think critically: you will learn how to evaluate arguments, claims, beliefs, and so on as well as how to make solid arguments of your own.  You will learn how to think clearly, a powerful skill indeed.  Since the complement to thinking clearly is writing clearly, this critical thinking course also includes a writing component.  Many of the assignments require short essay or paragraph-style answers.  These will be marked on content, grammar, and style.
Texts/Readings:
Moore, B. N. & Parker, R.  2016.  Critical Thinking, 12th Edition.  New York: McGraw-Hill.
Assessment:
Three Assignments (12% each – 36%): Short answer, essay, argument evaluation
One Blog Argument (12%): Posted
One Blog Critique (12%): Posted
One Final Exam (40%): Scheduled.  Short answer, essay, argument evaluation, possibly some multiple choice.
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)

 

PHIL 260 - Introduction to Logic – Salay
FALL (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 formalization of deductive reasoning, an ideal that we rarely achieve in our everyday discourse.  By familiarizing ourselves with formal patterns and recognizing 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 formalize 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.
Texts/Readings:  
Bergmann, Moore, & Nelson.  2014.  The Logic Book, 6th Ed.  McGrawHill
Assessment:  
1 midterm examination (in-class) — 20%
1 final examination (scheduled) — 40%
7 quizzes — 40% (6% each)
Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite: Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL.
Exclusions: PHIL 361/3.0. 
Equivalency: PHIL 361/3.0

 

PHIL 260 - Introduction to Logic – TBD
WINTER (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 formalization of deductive reasoning, an ideal that we rarely achieve in our everyday discourse.  By familiarizing ourselves with formal patterns and recognizing 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 formalize 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.
Texts/Readings:  
Bergmann, Moore, & Nelson.  2014.  The Logic Book, 6th Ed.  McGrawHill
Assessment:  
1 midterm examination (in-class) — 20%
1 final examination (scheduled) — 40%
7 quizzes — 40% (6% each)
Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite: Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL.
Exclusions: PHIL 361/3.0. 
Equivalency: PHIL 361/3.0

 

PHIL 261 - Philosophy of Mathematics - M.CR.Smith
WINTER (3.0)
 The philosophy of mathematics is especially interesting because it brings together a number of questions in metaphysics, epistemology and the philosophies of thought and language. After a very quick run through some historical views, we will address largely contemporary material that deals with these questions, among others:

  • What, if anything, is the subject-matter of mathematics?
  • What is mathematical objectivity? Are there mathematical objects?
  • How can mathematical truths be known?
  • What is a proof? What do proofs prove?
  • What does paradox teach us about the mathematical realm?
  • How can we explain the applicability of mathematics in natural science and daily life?

Texts/Readings:
Primary sources available through the course site.
Assessment:  
1 take-home assignment; 1 short midterm paper; 1 final paper
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL.

 

PHIL 263 - Philosophy of Religion – Meaning, Devotion, Suffering - Lawson
FALL (3.0)

We live in an age of intellectual secularism and yet it is also undeniably an age of popular religious extremism. Notions of God are often excluded from logical conversations and yet religious ideas form the basis of our laws, mores, and education systems. This course will trace the origins of religious thought from Plato and Aristotle to present day scholars such as Catherine Keller and Richard Kearney with investigations into: Medieval adaptations of ancient texts into Abrahamic religions; Nietzsche’s notion of “the death of God”; mysticism; environmental theology; womanism and spirituality; atheist responses; and religious thinkers in Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, and Islamic traditions. This course will not assume or suggest any belief system but will explore the Great Ideas that have been adapted through religion and will ask students to consider the notion of God as an intellectual placeholder for meaning, devotion, suffering, and the wonder of being a human. The class will meet for three hours a week and should expect an additional 3-5 hours of homework/ class preparation each week.
Texts/Readings:
TBD
Assessment:
Students will be assessed based on three response papers, a midterm exam, an annotated bibliography, and a final essay.
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL.

 

PHIL 270 - Minds and Machines - Salay
WINTER (3.0)

cognitive sciences.  Our focus will be on providing an holistic understanding of the various perspectives brought by each of the disciplines, in particular, cognitive psychology, computer science, neuroscience, and linguistics, through an investigation of how the various approaches ultimately frame and answer our questions about the mind.  The course will begin with a brief overview of the traditional themes in the philosophy of mind, but the bulk of the term will be spent investigating contemporary themes in cognitive science from a philosophical perspective.  The topics we will cover throughout the term include, but are not limited to, the following: formal systems; physical symbol systems; neural networks; A-life; emergent systems; dynamical systems; cognitive linguistics; embodied cognition.
Texts/Readings:
Clark, A.  2014.  Mindware: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Cognitive Science, 2nd Edition.  Oxford: Oxford University Press — Handouts
Assessment:
30%: Essay (1800 - 2500 words)
24%: Three Write Ups (WUP’s) (250-500 words)
30%: Two In-Class Tests (15% each)
16%: Participation (8% attendance; 8% in class participation)
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL.

 

PHIL 271 - Philosophy and Literature - Knight
WINTER (3.0)

We will survey a range of central topics at the heart of the philosophy of literature, such as:

  • Literature as an art
  • Narrative
  • Fiction and non-fiction
  • Interpretation
  • Authorship
  • Imagination
  • Emotional engagement
  • Philosophy in literature
  • Literature and ethical criticism

Texts/Readings:
TBD
Assessment:
Students can expect both shorter and longer written assignments, probably four altogether across the term, and a final exam.
Learning Hours:
120 (36L; 84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL

 

PHIL 273 - Continental Philosophy 1800-1900 – Fairfield
WINTER (3.0)

This lecture course provides an analysis of key figures and texts in nineteenth-century continental European philosophy. We shall study key works by Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Wilhelm Dilthey. Major topics will include Christianity and subjectivity, the critique of metaphysics and conventional morality, the foundations of the human sciences, and hermeneutics, among others. The format will be lecture with discussion.
Texts/Readings:
Søren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript
Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
Wilhelm Dilthey, Introduction to the Human Sciences
Assessment:
Students will write one essay of approximately 3000-3500 words, which will count for 60% of the grade in the course. The essay will be graded on the basis of quality of argumentation/interpretation and writing style. The final examination is worth 40% of the final grade.
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL.

 

PHIL 275-- Thinking Gender, Sex and Love - Davies
WINTER (3.0)
PHIL 275 is an interactive lecture course. The instructor present lectures, shares audio-visual material, PowerPoint slides, and encourages conversation in the classroom and online discussion fora. Course content is divided into three sections. The first addresses theories and experiences of gender. The second is about sexual ethics especially related to consent, objectification, human dignity, and “perversity.” The third focuses on a classic in the philosophy of sex and love: Plato’s Symposium.
Students learn to identify preconceptions about gender, sex and love, and discuss their implications. We critically evaluate diverse responses to ethical questions that arise in sexual encounters and relationships. We consider how specific ways of thinking about gender sex and love, shape what we imagine to be possible, permissible, and desirable for ourselves and others.
Philosophical reading skills are a strong emphasis: identifying key concepts, arguments, insights, questions raised as well as addressed, and how to reasonably read between the lines. Close reading of Plato’s Symposium deepens our appreciation for the subtleties of Plato’s style, and the continuing relevance of his insights into the nature of philosophy and the human condition. Students practice and develop their skills in written argumentation: presenting a clear thesis, supported by clear reasoning, relevant and accurate textual references, and well-reasoned answers to plausible objections.
Texts/Readings:
Plato’s Symposium, plus a selection of articles available on the course OnQ website. The readings on the website include contemporary works that support interdisciplinary and intersectional analyses of sex and gender, as well as contemporary and historical philosophical discussions of questions in sexual ethics.
Assessment:

  • 2 short essays (1300-1500 words each worth 20% and 30%),
  • 5 online open-book reading comprehension quizzes (worth a total of 5%)
  • 5 blog posts (250 words each, pass/fail worth a total of 5%)
  • Final exam 40% (multiple choice questions and one essay question)

Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL

 

PHIL 276 – Critical Theories Social Diversity - Guenther
WINTER (3.0)

This course is an experiment.  Rather than studying abstract concepts of “social diversity,” we will bring our minds together to think about what it means to do philosophy here and now in Ka'tarohkwi/Kingston.  What do we know, and what do we not know, about the place where we currently live?  How does the history of this place shape our perception of the present and our imagination of future possibilities?  What is the relationship between the university and the prison, given that West Campus is built on a former prison farm, Queen’s once owned the former Prison for Women, and unclaimed corpses from local prisons are donated to Queen’s medical school (just to mention a few connections)?  What can we learn about power, knowledge, and the possibilities for collective action by thinking in place rather than abstracting from particularity?  Throughout the course, we will engage with the work of social epistemologists who reflect on the ethical and political implications of knowledge and ignorance.  Students will work in groups to create an educational resource for future students in this course, both to share what they have learned and to allow future students to build on their work.  We will have several guest speakers throughout the semester, including Dolleen Tisawii'ashii Manning, El Jones, Marquis Bey, and members of local organizations such as EPIC (End the Prison Industrial Complex) and the P4W Memorial Collective.  My hope is that, by beginning with the specificity of place, we can think more critically and creatively about social diversity, beyond a checklist of separate identities or an arena of competing interests.
Texts/Readings:
TBD
Assessment:
TBD
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL

 

PHIL 296 - Animals and Society - Gibson
WINTER (3.0)
This course introduces students to historical and contemporary debates regarding the treatment of nonhuman animals within Western societies, and explores our ethical responsibilities toward them. The course examines a range of human- animal relations, involving domesticated, working, research subjects and wild animals.
Texts/Readings:
TBD
Assessment:
TBD
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL