Department of Philosophy

DEPARTMENT OF

Philosophy

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300 Level Courses              

These are courses and descriptions for 2019-20. 

 

PHIL 390 – Philosophical Practice – Gordon-Solmon 
FALL/WINTER (6.0)

This is a skills course.
The first term provides intensive training in reading, discussing and writing philosophy. The syllabus  will focus on one (or more) of the department’s core areas: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, and/or history.
The topic for the fall of 2019 is contemporary ethics.
The second term is a practicum: students will serve as writing tutors for PHIL 111 or 115.
Students should e-mail Professor Gordon-Solmon (kg59@queensu.ca) explaining their interest in the course, and also arrange for an e-mailed letter of recommendation from one of their previous philosophy professors. Priority will be given to applications received by August 16, 2019.
Texts/Readings: All readings will be available on OnQ.
Assessment:
Fall term: Short writing assignments (3 total); assignment re-writes (2 total); final essay; presentation; participation
Winter term:
Practicum
Learning Hours:
228 (36S;42Pc;144P)
Prerequisite:
Registration in a Philosophy Major Plan and (A GPA of 2.4 in each of PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0). Must have permission from instructor.
Note:
Students are admitted by application: 1 letter of reference, preferably from a Philosophy faculty member.

 

PHIL 301—Bioethics - 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.
Texts/Readings:
All readings will be available on OnQ.
Assessment:
 3 short essays; participation bonus
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 3 or above

 

PHIL 316 - Philosophy of Art - Knight
WINTER (3.0)

The course has two main objectives. The first is to consider what is philosophically and aesthetically significant about specific art forms. Examples might include painting, literature, photography, architecture.
The second is to examine more general philosophical questions about the nature and value of art, such as: What is art?  What is art for? What aesthetic properties and experiences are typically associated with art? What is artistic value? What is aesthetic value?
Along the way, we will consider topics such as artists’ intentions, representation, expression, the nature of art objects, and the “de-definition” debate.
Texts/Readings:
TBA
Assessment:
Students can expect to write some combination of shorter and longer written assignments, probably four across the term, as well as a final exam.
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
 Level 3 or above

 

PHIL 318 - Philosophy of Law – Justice, Rights and Freedom - Sypnowich
FALL (3.0)

This course introduces students to some of the central concepts in the exciting and fascinating field of philosophy of law, or what lawyers call jurisprudence, a subject that straddles the disciplines of law and philosophy and that concerns both the principles and applications of legal ideals.  At the heart of the philosophy of law is the question of how the rules of the coercive state might justly intervene in individual freedom.  We will consider writings from classic jurisprudence as well as contemporary debates, taken from the UK, the US and Canada.  Possible topics include the relation between law and morality, the idea of the rule of law, human rights, the proper role of judges, hate speech, pornography and freedom of expression, punishment and incarceration.  These topics will be pursued in order to acquire a grasp of the central ideas and arguments of legal philosophy as well as the skills to assess and critique them.
Lectures with some opportunity for discussion in class.
Texts/Readings:
David Dyzenhaus, Sophia Reibetanz Moreau, Arthur Ripstein (eds.) Law and Morality as well as some additional readings on punishment.
Assessment:
A mixture of in-class essays, a formal essay, and an online quiz.
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 3 or above

 

PHIL 328 - Ancient Philosophy – Leighton
FALL (3.0)

This course will study of a variety of Plato’s dialogues, together with some responses by Aristotle. Dialogues to be considered include the Ion, Meno, Phaedo and Symposium (amongst others); topics to be considered include, the nature and value of poetical inspiration; the nature of reality and our knowledge of it; love and other emotions.
Texts/Readings:
Plato, The Republic, Ion, Meno, Phaedo and Symposium.
Assessment:
Assessment is based on an in class exam, a paper and a December examination.
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 330 - Investigation in History of Philosophy - M.CR.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/Readings:  
Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period, ed. Margaret Atherton; other readings will be made available through the class website.
Assessment:
TBA
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
PHIL 250/6.0 or PHIL 257/6.0 or permission of the Department.

 

PHIL 343 – Social and Political Philosophy – 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.
Texts/Readings:
John Rawls, A Theory of Justice; articles or book chapters by Elizabeth Anderson, G.A. Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, Harry Frankfurt, Robert Nozick, Susan Okin, and Derek Parfit.
Assessment:
Essay(s); ‘panel of experts' presentation; participation; in-class group assignment
Assessment for 390 (fall term) is: Short writing assignments (3 total); assignment re-writes (2 total); final essay; presentation; participation
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
PHIL 257/6.0 or permission of the Department. 

 

PHIL 347 - Contemporary Moral Philosophy – Kumar
FALL (3.0)

(Fall) 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, what factors may exculpate a person from moral responsibility (such as psychopathy or poor formative circumstances), and collective responsibility. Readings will be drawn from recent work.
Texts/Readings:
All readings will be made available through OnQ
Assessment:
Four article précises over the course of the term, a final paper, participation
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
PHIL 257/6.0 or permission of the Department

 

PHIL 352 - Metaphysics - Mark 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/Readings:  
Available through course site.
Assessment:  
3 argument analyses; 1 midterm paper; 1 final paper
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
PHIL 250/6.0 or permission of the Department.

 

PHIL 367 - Jewish Philosophy – Davies
FALL (3.0)

PHIL 367 focuses on the work of three contemporary and twentieth century intellectuals whose identity as Jews, as well as their education in Jewish and non-Jewish traditions, informs their conceptions of philosophy, the responsibilities of the public intellectual, and their specific responses to the issues of the day. We also draw on earlier Jewish and non-Jewish philosophical work including that of the medieval Judeo-Arabic speaking polymath Moses Maimonides, and generations of Jewish exploration of the relation between law, ethics and metaphysics. We will discuss the influences of such well known figures as Plato, Aristotle, and Kant, on selected Jewish philosophers and their influence in turn on such twentieth century movements as existentialism, phenomenology, postmodernism, political theory, critical theory and Queer theory.
Methodologically our focus will be on how to find wisdom in “the spaces between” – in the space of dialogical encounter; the space opened up by “the face of the Other”; the precarious margins to which totalitarianism and other systemic violence pushes individuals and populations. We will build on fundamental philosophical reasoning skills in argument and analysis while developing an appreciation for wisdom that does not speak in a univocal voice and even seeks it in disagreement and difference.
The course is conducted for the most part as a small seminar. The instructor will present some lectures introducing authors, key vocabulary and concepts. Most of our time will be spent in discussion of texts and the issues they raise. Students are expected to attend seminar meetings having read and prepared for them. The success of the class depends on the quality of student participation as well as the instructor’s leadership.
Evaluation of student achievement in the course is based on the reading comprehension demonstrated on 10 online multiple choice quizzes, and the capacity for exposition of philosophical texts, identification of philosophical issues, and written reasoning demonstrated in two 1500 word essays. The remainder of student grades are earned on a pass/fail basis for attendance, taking turns at initiating seminar discussions, posting notes of seminar discussions, posting comments on assigned readings, and commenting on seminar notes.
No previous knowledge of Jewish histories or cultures is assumed. The participation of students from diverse Jewish and non-Jewish backgrounds enriches the class.
Texts/Readings:
The two required course texts: Martin Buber’s I and Thou, and Judith Butler’s Precarious Life: The Powers of Mourning and Violence, are available in the Campus Bookstore. Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil is recommended and available there too. Selected articles by or about Moses Maimonides, Emmanuel Levinas, and Jacques Derrida as well as Buber, Butler, and Arendt are available on the course website
Assessment:
2 Essays (1500 words ± 200 words ea.) 35% for best essay (Buber essay due Oct. 11th & Butler essay due Dec. 9th    30% for next best
Online Quizzes: 10 x 1% throughout the term, worth a total of    10% of final grade
Attendance: Worth up to 10% of final grade (0.5 points available on a pass/fail basis per class  attended, for each of 20/24 scheduled class meetings)
5 Discussion posts on required readings*            
†  At least 250 words ea., graded on a pass/fail basis  5% of final grade  5 Contributions to notes of 5 seminar meeting discussions † Complete the form for 5 seminar meetings,  post online, graded on pass/fail basis    5% of final grade 3 posted comments*
† on others’ posted seminar notes (pass/fail)  3% of final grade 2 oral discussion-starting contributions**
† with a partner (pass/fail)  2% of final grade    
*    at least 250 words each **  10-15 minutes
†    Schedule created by sign up sheet during the term
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
(6.0 units in PHIL or JWST) or permission of the Department.

 

PHIL 374 - Continental Philosophy 1960-Present – Fairfield
FALL (3.0)

This lecture course provides an analysis of a few texts in continental European philosophy between 1960 and today. We shall study one book each by Hans-Georg Gadamer, Michel Foucault, and Jeff Mitscherling and Paul Fairfield. Major topics will include phenomenology, hermeneutics, poststructuralism, aesthetics and artistic creation, among others. The format will be lecture with discussion.
Texts/Readings:
Hans-Georg Gadamer, Reason in the Age of Science
Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality volume 1: An Introduction
Jeff Mitscherling and Paul Fairfield, Artistic Creation: A Phenomenological Account
(6.0 units in PHIL or JWST) or permission of the Department.
Students will write one essay of approximately 4000 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 3 or above

 

PHIL 381 - Natural Science – Lehoux
FALL (3.0)
This course will tackle some of the basic epistemological and metaphysical problems that confront us when we think about science: What do the sciences tell us about the world and how do they tell us? What kinds of access do observations and experiments give us to ‘the way things are’? How is theory built upon observation and experiment? How much confidence can we have in different theories? What is science, even, and can it be distinguished from non-scientific or pseudo-scientific practices?
Texts/Readings:
TBD
Assessment:
TBD
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 3 or above

 

PHIL 384 – Consciousness - Salay
WINTER (3.0)

In these early years of the 21st-Century, consciousness has become the final frontier for science, but not so long ago 'mind talk' was strictly taboo in the sciences and the subject was thought to be anathema to academic study. Times have changed: 60 years of advances in brain recording technology, increased cooperation between cognitive scientists of different sub-disciplines, and easier access to the resulting work has led to a field of consciousness studies. That said, consciousness is still a very hard problem, the hard problem, perhaps, and we deepen our understanding of it by integrating our new findings with insights we have already gained. In this course we will do just that by exploring, through theory and practise, some of the most important philosophies of consciousness and their connections to recent scientific consciousness research. The perspectives we will be looking at include any or all of the following: Buddhism, Stoicism, Phenomenology, and Embodied Cognitive Science.
Texts/Readings:
Handouts
Assessment:
Term Paper: 40% (2500-3000 words)
Weekly Readings Précis: 40% (5% each — 8 @ 250 words)
Attendance/Participation: 10% (5% attendance/5% participation)
Meditation log: 10% (log plus 300-500 word final entry)
Learning Hours:
144 (24L;12Lb;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 3 or above

 

PHIL 510/995 - PHIL ITC - Philosophy in the Community - Sypnowich
WINTER (3.0)

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. 

Community placements to date include:

Sandy Pines Animal Sanctuary (1)

  • Rehabilitation for injured and ill animals
    • Possible research questions: comparative cognition; animal ethic; nature and the environment;) Note this placement requires a car

Providence Care Hospital (6-7)

  • Short- and long-term rehabilitation for patients with physical/mental health issues
    • Possible research questions: mental health; organizational ethics; the ethics of care for the elderly; the nature of personal identity; life, death and meaning

St. Lawrence Place Retirement Home (2)

  • A residence for elderly persons
    • Possible research questions: the ethics of care; personal identity; life, death and meaning; organizational ethics; healthcare administration; philosophy of disability

Big Words Little People Speech Therapy (1)

  • A children-focussed private speech language pathologist practice
    • Possible research questions: language acquisition; human development; mind and culture; personal identity

Kingston Immigration Partnership (2)

  • Counselling service for immigrant and refugee newcomers to Kingston
    • Possible research questions: racism and multiculturalism; equity, diversity and inclusion; immigration, migration and citizenship; borders and refugees; communitarianism

Elizabeth Fry Society (1)

  • Services for women at risk with the criminal justice system
    • Possible research questions: ethics of incarceration; feminism; sexual violence; theories of punishment

H’art Centre for adults with intellectual disabilities (1)

  • Arts therapy centre for people with intellectual disabilities
    • Possible research questions: language and communication; ethics of care; personal identity; philosophy of disability

Kingston City Council (1+)

  • Kingston’s municipal government
    • Possible research questions: distributive justice and poverty; heritage and urban planning; sustainability; organizational ethics

King’s Town School (1)

  • Small downtown private elementary school
    • Possible research questions: Philosophy of education; cognitive development; childhood and children; schooling and distributive justice; disability and accommodation

Reelout Queer Film Festival (+1)

  • Arts therapy centre for people with intellectual disabilities
    • Possible research questions: language and communication; ethics of care; personal identity; philosophy of disability

Application process:
Students will apply to be admitted to the ‘Philosophy in the Community’ course, and be interviewed, in the fall of 2019.  Information meetings and interviews will take place in the fall term, and the decision about admission will be made by October.  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, their philosophical project and availability.  The placement will take place in the winter of 2020.  Students are advised to nonetheless enroll in a full complement of regular courses so that they will have a fallback plan in case they are unsuccessful in getting a place. Application form.

Course details:
Students will be coached in the autumn 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 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.

  • Biweekly reports (best 4 out of 5): worth 40%
  • Presentation – overview of research and plans for research paper: worth 10%
  • Final paper (4,000 words) that considers the chosen philosophical topic in light of the community experience: worth 40%
  • Students will earn a credit for Phil 510/3.0 Philosophy in the Community, which will count towards their required complement of graduate courses.

Please contact Christine Sypnowich (christine.sypnowich@queensu.ca) if you have any questions.