Department of Philosophy

DEPARTMENT OF

Philosophy

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**Note re. 2020-21 courses**

All Fall courses are being taught remotely.  Please consult each course description to find out instructors’ plans for how the course will be delivered. 

 

300 Level Courses              

These are courses and descriptions for 2020-21. 

PHIL 301—Bioethics - Udo Schuklenk
FALL - ONLINE (3.0)
In this bioethics introductory course we will tackle bioethical problems ranging from the question of who or what has moral status, (and for what reasons), to abortion and euthanasia, resource allocation justice, COVID19 and other global and public health ethics challenges, as well as a fair number of other topics.
Given that Queen's University is aiming for asynchronous delivery you can expect a number of weekly lecture type short videos accompanying slide presentations. We will use OnQ for weekly homeworks as well as bulletin board type features, chatrooms and the like for communication purpose. The important bit is that you can take this class at your leisure as there won't be any fixed time where you must attend a particular Zoom or Teams session. 
Your professor as well as the teaching assistants will aim to make themselves available at short notice should you wish to virtually meet them in order to discuss pressing matters via Zoom, Facetime, Skype etc.
We will be using a new bioethics textbook that should be available for on-line purchase in early September.
Reading:
https://www.wiley.com/en-ca/This+Is+Bioethics%3A+An+Introduction-p-9781118770740
Assessment:
From week 4 you must address/answer one of the questions raised at the end of each of the textbook chapters in a short 500-750 word response. 
From week 3 you must submit each week, at a to-be-determined date, a question pertaining to the required readings that you'd like the professor to address in one of the subsequent week's lecture videos. This may include questions of understanding. The submission must include a paragraph long justification for your question.
There is no final exam, the assessment criteria are subject to (minor) change.
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 3 or above

 

PHIL 311 - Philosophy of Psychology - Bakhurst
Spring 2021 (3.0)

What is the nature of mind and to what extent can it be disclosed by natural-scientific methods?  This course draws on the ideas of a variety of thinkers—such as Bruner, Hacking, McDowell, Midgley, Vygotsky, Wiggins, and Wittgenstein—to explore the nature of psychological explanation.  We will examine the social dimensions of the human mind, addressing questions of personhood, identity, rationality, freedom and self-knowledge. Finally, we shall consider how these issues illuminate the psychology of learning, development and education. 
Reading:
Bakhurst, The Formation of Reason
Midgely, Beast and Man
Various articles and supplementary text to be determined.
Prerequisite:   
PHIL 250/6.0 or 12.0 units in PSYC or permission of the Department.

 

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

This year we will examine key questions about the nature and value of art, such as: What is art? Can "art" be defined"? What counts as a viable theory of art? What aesthetic properties and experiences are typically associated with art? What is artistic value? What is aesthetic value? What is art for? Why does art matter?
Along the way, we will read a number of sometimes quite opposed views defended by both philosophers and art critics and also consider works of art from a variety of art forms, ranging from the visual arts to musical arts, and from “high” art to “low,” “popular,” and “folk” art.
Texts/Readings:
Course readings will be available through Queen’s Library’s E-reserves and linked to our OnQ site.
Assessment:
Students can expect to write some combination of shorter and longer assignments. The objective is to develop skills of critical analysis and interpretation.
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
 Level 3 or above

 

PHIL 318 - Philosophy of Law - TBA
FALL (3.0)

A survey of the central issues in the philosophy of law including a consideration of current jurisprudential controversies  about the nature of law and philosophical treatments of problems arising from within the law such as paternalism, privacy,  responsibility, and civil liberties.
Texts/Readings:
TBA
Assessment:
TBA
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
Level 3 or above

 

PHIL 328 - Ancient Philosophy – Leighton
Topic: Plato's Republic 
WINTER (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 - Mark Smith
WINTER (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
FALL (3.0)

This course will provide an upper-level introduction to contemporary discussions of distributive justice.  The central text will be John Rawls' pioneering book, A Theory of Justice.  We will also look at selections from the critical literature surrounding the book, as well as the luck-egalitarian theories of justice that developed in its wake.  Here, readings will include pieces by Robert Nozick, Ronald Dworkin, and G.A. Cohen
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:
Participation in a weekly 60-min Zoom seminar session and subsequent online discussion forum, 40%; a group take-home midterm, 20%; 2 essays, 20% each; 1-2 micro-assignments, each worth a 2% bonus.  **This is breakdown in tentative; it is subject to change**
Learning Hours:
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
PHIL 257/6.0 or permission of the Department. 

 

PHIL 351 - Philosophy of Mind  - Knight
WINTER (3.0)

The philosophy of mind asks what the mind is, how it is related to the body, and just what sorts of things mental events and mental properties are. The course begins with Descartes’s claim that minds are separate from bodies, and Gilbert Ryle’s rejection of Cartesian dualism. If Ryle is right and dualism is wrong, how exactly should we understand a materially embodied mind? What would a non-dualistic philosophy of mind look like? We consider several answers including functionalism and other non-reductive physicalisms.
Next we turn to a powerful descriptive theory known as “folk psychology,” which focuses on our capacity to explain and predict our own and each other’s behaviour. The idea here is to use observable phenomena (for instance, a person’s actions) as evidence for the attribution of mental states such as beliefs and desires. We will consider folk psychology as a theory of mind.
But there is more to our mental lives than just being in possession of beliefs and desires. We will examine four additional aspects of human experience that help us to fill out our theory of mind: qualia (the phenomenal or felt-sense of our experience), emotions, weakness of the will, and self-deception.
We will conclude by considering further developments in folk psychological explanation and the question of what justifies our sense of ourselves as unified beings that persist over time.
Texts/Readings:
Course readings will be available through Queen’s Library’s E-reserves and linked to our OnQ site.
Assessment:
Students can expect to write some combination of shorter and longer assignments. The objective is to develop skills of critical analysis.
Learning Hours
120 (36L;84P)
Prerequisite:
PHIL 250/6.0 or permission of the Department.

 

PHIL 359 - Philosophy of Language - Mercier
Spring (3.0)

The course will be a reading-intensive survey of foundational texts in the philosophy of language, exploring ways in which thought, language and the world are connected where they are, and aren’t, where they are not. Through the writings of classical figures Frege, Russell, Donnellan, Kripke, Putnam, Chomsky, the course will explore notions of the mental versus the psychological, the objective versus the subjective, direct versus indirect reference, the social language or dialect versus the individual idiolect, the role of experts in our mental life. 
Requirements:   
Reading summaries, midterm test, final exam. 
Prerequisites: 
361 & 362 or equivalent by permission of instructor.
NOTE:  Availability in timetabled slots is expected for this course.

 

PHIL 362 - Further Studies In Logic - Mercier
Fall (3.0)

The course will cover the full polyadic predicate calculus with identity and definite descriptions, otherwise known as Basic Logic for Philosophers. One focus will be on skill development in translation from (ambiguous, vague, contextual) English into (unambiguous, fully perspicuous, eternal) logical formalization, expanded to various quantifiers (universal, existential, definite) practicing the important logical and cognitive notion of scope. This skill enhances clarity, rigour, and complexity in thought. Another focus will be on skill development in various techniques of formal reasoning: syntactic derivation and semantic inference methods; model theory and invalidity proofs. This skill enhances understanding of validity and invalidity, and improves cognitive reasoning abilities through variety and reenforcement.
Requisite:  
Hard work and dedication. The course requires the use of a remarkable interactive computer program from UCLA available for free, which takes a bit of getting used to but is immensely beneficial. The course is exercise-based. It is not enough to be passively competent with the Language of Logic for it to enhance one’s reasoning abilities. One must be actively fluent in it. The numerous exercises teach and practice every facet and subtlety of English syntax, and the mistakes of reasoning to which humans are prone.
Requirements: 
Bi-weekly tests, and a final exam.
Prerequisites:  
Full propositional logic, including facility with translations of English and boolean operators (conjunctions, disjunctions, conditionals) and with formal manipulation of rules of inference. High marks and motivation in 361, or permission of instructor.
NOTE:  Availability in timetabled slots is expected for this course.

 

PHIL 367 - Jewish Philosophy – TBA
WINTER (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. 
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:
TBA
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
WINTER (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
WINTER (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 390 – Philosophical Practice – Gordon-Solmon 
FALL/WINTER (6.0)

Overview
This is a full year, 6.0-credit ‘skills’ course, for 3rd and 4th year Philosophy majors.  The fall term will provide intensive training in reading, discussing, and especially, writing philosophy.  In the winter term, students will share their writing skills, honed in the fall term, with 1st-year students, by serving as writing tutors for PHIL 111.
Each year, the fall-term syllabus will be constructed around one (or more) of the department's core areas: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, or history.  The particular area will vary from year to year.  This year, the area is ethics; the theme is duties, constraints, prerogatives, and permissions.|
Fall Topic
 Here are some innocuous claims.  Some states of affairs are better than others, in virtue of being better for persons than others.  (For example, states of affairs in which we suffer less are better, other things equal, than those in which we suffer more.)  We have presumptive moral reason to help bring about better states of affairs, which will sometimes be decisive.  But we also have prerogatives to favour our own interests, sometimes at the expense of what is impartially best.  Third, and lastly, we are subject to moral constraints, which limit what we can do in pursuit of our own, or others’, good.
 Again, none these claims is terribly controversial.  Nevertheless, taken together, they give rise to various puzzles, and even paradoxes.  Our task will be to work through some of these (in particular, their treatments in the contemporary literature), and toward a better understanding of duties, constraints, prerogatives, and permissions
Texts/Readings:
All readings will be available on OnQ.
Assessment/Fall term:
Written argument reconstructions (2 total); argument reconstruction rewrites, supplemented with critiques (2 total); final essay; optional final essay rewrite; participation (in a weekly Zoom seminar session; possibly also in online discussion forums); presentation
Assessment/Winter Term: 
Practicum performance.
Learning Hours:
228 (36S;42Pc;144P)
Prerequisite:
Registration in a Philosophy Major Plan and (A GPA of 3.0 in each of PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0). Must have permission from instructor.
Note:Admission to this course is by application.  To apply, please (1) e-mail Professor Gordon-Solmon (kg59@queensu.ca) explaining your interest in the course, (2) arrange for an e-mailed letter of recommendation to be Professor Gordon-Solmon from one of your previous philosophy professors, and (3) instruct the Philosophy department (at philug@queensu.ca) to share your transcript with Professor Gordon-Solmon.  Qualified students will be selected for enrolment based on a combination of criteria, including the strength of their application letter and reference letter, and overall academic record to date.  Priority will be given to students who submit their application letters by July 15, 2020.   

 

PHIL 444 - 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. 

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

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.