Department of Philosophy

DEPARTMENT OF

Philosophy

site header

300 Level Courses              

These are courses and descriptions for 2018-19. 

 

PHIL 301—Bioethics

K. Gordon-Solmon

FALL (3.0)

An investigation of some moral issues arising in connection with health care, including: the relationship between patient and health care provider; reproductive decision‐making; euthanasia and the nature of death; and the development of health care policy.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above.

 

PHIL 303—Ethics and Business

Topic: Markets and Morals 

R. Kumar

FALL (3.0)

An examination of the morality of the free market and moral arguments for restricting its influence in how it shapes the lives of ourselves and others. Topics to be considered include the role of ethics in the market, the nature of the firm, justice in compensation, the ethics of globalization, the relationship between workers and the firm, and the case for workplace democracy. Readings will be drawn from philosophy, economics, law, and organizational behaviour.

No background in philosophy is presupposed by this course. It is open to anyone with third year standing or higher. 

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above.

EXCLUSION No more than 3.0 units from PHIL 303/3.0; COMM 338/3.0.

 

PHIL 318 - Philosophy of Law

Topic: Critical Theories of Punishment

L. Guenther

FALL (3.0)

The right to enforce the law and to punish lawbreakers is central to liberal political theory.  Some philosophers base the right to punish on retributive grounds, arguing that lawbreakers deserve to be punished in a way that is proportional to the offense.  Others appeal to consequentialist grounds, arguing that a just punishment is one that yields beneficial results such as rehabilitation or deterrence.  Still others question the necessity of punishment and advocate a restorative approach to justice that seeks to reconcile victims and offenders.  But these ideal theories of justice are incomplete without an analysis of the relation between power and punishment in concrete, historical contexts.  In the United States and Canada, people of colour and Indigenous people are incarcerated at far higher rates than white settlers, and they often receive harsher punishments for the same crimes.

In this course, we will critically examine the problem of hyper-incarceration in relation to the genealogy of punishment developed by Nietzsche and Foucault, and through an engagement with key texts in the philosophy of punishment, including work by Kant, Bentham, and Locke.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE Level 3 or above.

 

PHIL 324—African Philosophy

J. Miller

WINTER (3.0)

This course offers an introduction to African philosophical thought. After dealing with metatheoretical questions about the nature of philosophy and the philosophical inquirer, the focus will shift to African views on topics such as truth, the concept of a person, art, morality, slavery and colonialism.

PREREQUISITE   Level 3 or above.

 

PHIL 328 Ancient Philosophy

S. Leighton

FALL (3.0)

This course will be a study of a variety of dialogues of Plato, including the Ion, Laches, Protagorus, Symposium and others.  Sample topics to be considered include the nature and value of poetical inspiration, virtue and its possible unity, the nature of courage, love and other emotions.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE   PHIL 250/6.0 or PHIL 257/6.0 or 6.0 units in PHIL and registration in a CLST Major or Medial plan or permission of the Department.

 

PHIL 329—Early Modern Philosophy

E. Paul

WINTER (3.0)

A study of selected topics in early modern philosophy.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE   PHIL 250/6.0 or PHIL 257/6.0 or permission of the Department.

 

PHIL 330 - Investigations in the History of Philosophy

Topic:  Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period

M.C. Smith

FALL (3.0)

Many women were active participants in philosophical and scientific thought in the early modern period (i.e. roughly the 17th and 18th centuries). Unfortunately, their contributions have been mostly occluded by the way in which the history of philosophy has been told, and the way in which “the canon” has taken shape. A fuller understanding of early modern philosophy demands that we attend to women’s contributions, and we will do so through an examination of Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Mary Astell, Damaris Masham, Émilie du Châtelet, and others.

Texts: Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period, ed. Margaret Atherton; other readings will be made available through the class website.

Assessment: a combination of short papers during the term, and a final research paper.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE    PHIL 250/6.0 or PHIL 257/6.0 or permission of the Department.

 

Philosophy 335 – Introduction to Kant

Topic: Kant's Critique of Pure Reason

D. L.C. Maclachlan

FALL (3.0)

Kant's Critical Philosophy has a central position in the history of modern philosophy in so far as it integrates the contributions of both the British Empiricists and the Continental Rationalists.  An understanding of Kant's revolutionary ideas is also essential in order to grasp a great deal of later thought in both the Anglo-Saxon and continental traditions.  The course will involve the close reading of the really important sections of the text, rather than an ill-judged attempt to cover the whole book.  There will be two essays requiring the student to provide an exegesis of the most central ideas in the work and a final examination.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE PHIL 250/6.0 or permission of the Department.

 

PHIL 343—Social and Political Philosophy

K. Gordon-Solmon

WINTER (3.0)

An examination of some of the principles and theories to which appeal is commonly made when social institutions and practices (and the policies associated with their establishment and maintenance) are subjected to critical scrutiny.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE PHIL 257/6.0 or permission of the Department.

 

PHIL 347—Contemporary Moral Philosophy

R. Kumar

FALL (3.0)

This course will examine questions regarding the nature of moral responsibility.  Topics to be covered include the relationship between being and holding responsible, responsibility for non-voluntary attitudes, the nature of blame and forgiveness, negligence and responsibility for moral ignorance, responsibility for outcomes, and what factors may exculpate a person from moral responsibility (such as psychopathy or poor formative circumstances).  Readings will be drawn from recent work. Evaluation will be through a mix of shorter and longer papers. 

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE PHIL 257/6.0 or permission of the Department.

 

PHIL 351 - Philosophy of Mind

D. Knight

WINTER (3.0)

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

The course begins with a review of the major theories of mind from Descartes to the present, leading to the question:  how do we explain the qualitative or “felt-sense” of phenomenal experience, and to the even harder question, how do we explain consciousness?

In the second part we will look at the role of emotions in the life of the mind, and how it comes about that seemingly rational people can act akratically — that is, against their better judgment — or, worse, deceive themselves about what they are in fact doing.

The course concludes by way of a summary, focusing on the questions of mindedness, intentional explanation, and the nature of the self.

Lectures will feature opportunities for small-group discussions. Evaluation will likely include four short written assignments focused on key topics/readings, and a final essay. There will be no final exam.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE PHIL 250/6.0 or permission of the Department.

 

PHIL 352—Metaphysics - Human Beings: What in the world?

M.C. Smith

WINTER (3.0)

The special focus of this term’s material will be on the metaphysics of the human person. Does the concept “person” pick out a natural kind having a distinctive essence? Or does it just pick out a specific sort of animal? Is there such a thing as the self, which accounts for enduring personal identity, or is the self an illusion? Is there such a phenomenon as free will, or is that perhaps an illusion also? These and other metaphysical questions that have specifically to do with human life and our self-conception will be broached, largely through contemporary work in metaphysics. Among others, we will read work by Christine Korsgaard, David Wiggins, Galen Strawson, and Harry Frankfurt.

Texts: all the readings will be available through the course website.

Assessment: some short argument analyses, a mid-term paper, and a final paper.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE PHIL 250/6.0 or permission of the Department.

 

PHIL 361—Introduction to Logic

N Salay

FALL (3.0)

From propositional calculus to first-order monadic predicate calculus. Symbolization, rules of inference, derivation and refutation of arguments.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE    A GPA of 2.0 in 6.0 units in PHIL.

ONE-WAY EXCLUSION   May not be taken with or after: CISC 204

 

Phil 362—Further Studies in Logic

A. Mercier

FALL (3.0)

From first-order monadic predicate calculus to polyadic predicate calculus with identity. Symbolization, rules of inference, derivation and refutation of arguments. Introduction to modal logics.

PREREQUISITE   PHIL 361/3.0 or ELEC 270/3.0.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

 

PHIL 367 - Jewish Philosophy

J. Davies

FALL (3.0)

An examination of key Jewish thought from Philo to Fackenheim, exploring such themes as the relationship between philosophy, literature, law, and religion; developments within Jewish philosophy; non‐Jewish influences on Jewish thought and vice‐versa. Contributions to contemporary philosophical work such as those in bioethics and postmodernism may also be considered.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE    (6.0 units in PHIL or JWST) or permission of the Department.

 

PHIL 376 - Philosophy and Feminism

J. Maxwell

WINTER (3.0)

An introduction to topics and issues in feminist philosophy. The influence of feminist perspectives on the framing and study of philosophical problems, and the contribution of philosophy to the development of feminist theory and practice will be central concerns. This course can be counted towards a minor, major or medial concentration in Gender Studies.

PREREQUISITE   (6.0 units in PHIL or GNDS at the 200‐level or above) and (6.0 units in PHIL or GNDS) or permission of the Department.

 

PHIL 382 - SpaceTime, Matter, and Reality

J. Mozersky

WINTER (3.0)

Contemporary physics has revolutionized our understanding of space, time, and matter. This has raised many fascinating philosophical issues, such as: Is time real? Is time travel possible? Is reality determinate, or does it depend on human observation? We will examine these and other questions in the context of physical theory.

LEARNING HOURS   120 (36L;84P)

PREREQUISITE    Level 3 or above.

 

PHIL 510 – Directed Special Studies

Topic: Philosophy in the Community

Course Coordinator: C. Sypnowich

WINTER (3.0)

This project is open to upper-level Philosophy concentrators (ideally in third year), who would have the opportunity to take up a volunteer placement in the community and earn a university credit.  Community placements to date include:

  • Sandy Pines Animal Sanctuary
  • Providence Care
  • St. Lawrence Place Retirement Home
  • Sparktalk Speech Therapy
  • Kingston Immigration Partnership
  • Elizabeth Fry Society
  • H’art (art) Centre for adults with intellectual disabilities
  • Kingston City Council

Application process

Students will apply to be admitted to the ‘Philosophy in the Community’ course, and be interviewed, in the fall of 2018.  Applications will be available September 1st from the Undergraduate Assistant, Sheena Wilkinson (philug@queensu.ca)and at this link. Information meetings and interviews will take place in the fall term, and the decision about admission will be made by November 1.

Selection will be based on marks, the quality of the application, and the interview.  Successful students will be allocated to one of several placements in the community, depending on their interests, abilities, and their philosophical project.  The placement will take place in the winter of 2019.  Students are advised to nonetheless enroll in the full complement of regular courses for their third year so that they will have a fallback plan in case they are unsuccessful in getting a place.

Course details

Students will be coached in the fall term by the course coordinator to define their philosophical project and to prepare for this opportunity.  The coordinator will be in regular contact with students and placement ‘hosts’ to ensure things are going smoothly.  Students will bring their philosophical skills of critical analysis and reflection, discussion and writing, to participate in the activities of a local organization.  Students might help out with the organization’s tasks, or simply observe or shadow the professional(s) involved.  This would be a volunteer placement; students would not be paid.

Class format and assessment

Students would be expected to spend about 27 hours at the placement.  There will also be a few class times, one at the beginning of the winter term, to orient students for the placement, and two at the end of the term, for students to share their experiences, for a total of 36 hours of class/volunteer time.

  1. Biweekly reports (best 5 out of 6): worth 50%
  2. Final paper (3,000 words) that considers the chosen philosophical topic in light of the community experience: worth 50%

Students will earn a credit for Phil 510/3.0 Philosophy in the Community, which will count towards their Philosophy concentration.