Department of Philosophy

DEPARTMENT OF

Philosophy

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400 Level Courses

These are courses and descriptions for 2019-20. 

 

PHIL/PPEC 400 - Capstone PPE - Keay, Lister, Sypnowich
WINTER (3.0)

The questions that are the focus of Politics, Philosophy and Economics share fundamental similarities, including their social nature, the analytical and critical thinking required to address them, and their complexity and multi-dimensionality.  The tools and perspectives may be different in each discipline, but the questions asked are remarkably similar.  The analytical and quantitative rigor of economics, the emphasis on social decision making in politics, and the philosophical underpinnings of both economic and political perspectives are intellectually complementary.  This course is intended to encourage students to identify these complementarities, while providing them with an opportunity to probe, investigate and resolve their own research questions with the disciplinary tools they have acquired in the PPEC plan.
In PPEC 400 students from all three subjects of specialization work collaboratively with their peers, closely supervised by faculty from within and outside their sub-plans, to formulate research questions and complete individual research-intensive projects.  The course is explicitly structured on a multi-disiciplinary inquiry-based model, promoting peer-to-peer learning, in-depth research skills, and interactive presentation skills.
To open the course, instructors from Politics, Philosophy and Economics will review discipline-specific research tools and perspectives, focusing on a common theme.  Students will then break into smaller working groups in which topic ideas will be refined and research challenges overcome in a collaborative setting.  To conclude the course, students have the opportunity to present their research projects and receive feedback from their peers and the course instructors.
Texts/Readings:
There is no assigned text book for this course.  Course readings can be accessed through the course OnQ page, or they can be downloaded from a Queen’s IP address from online journal archives available through the library’s home page.

  • Perspectives on Research: Politics
  • Perspectives on Research: Philosophy
  • Perspectives on Research: Economics
  • Deirdre McCloskey (1999), Economical Writing, Waveland Press.
  • William Thomson (2001), A Guide for the Young Economist. MIT Press.
  • Vernon Smith (1989), “Theory, Experiment and Economics”, Journal of Economic Perspectives 3(1): 151-69.

Assessment:

  • Participation will be worth 20% of the final grade.
  • The project presentation will be worth 20% of the final grade.
  • The final research report will be worth 60% of the final grade.

Prerequisite:
Level 4 and registration in the PPEC Specialization Plan and a minimum Plan GPA of 2.60 and permission of
the Department.

 

PHIL 405/806 - Social and Political Philosophy I - Krishnamurthy
Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. Now
WINTER (3.0)

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:
At least one class presentation; 2 short papers or 1 longer paper
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 405/807 - Social and Political Philosophy II – Kymlicka
Topic: Animals and the Frontiers of Citizenship
FALL (3.0)

It is widely argued that political citizenship should track social membership: all individuals who are members of a society, and who are subject to society’s rules, should be accorded citizenship, and with it the right to participate in shaping those rules. If we accept this membership model of citizenship, it would seem that (some) animals might be entitled to citizenship. After all, domesticated animals in particular meet many criteria of social membership: they engage in interspecies communication, cooperation, contribution, trust, and norm-compliance; they are subject to society’s rules, and their interests are affected by collective decision-making. So why are they not entitled to citizenship? One response is to argue that social membership is not sufficient to qualify as a citizen: one must also have certain sophisticated capacities for cognitive reasoning, linguistic communication and moral self-regulation. For example, one must be able to engage in Rawlsian public reason or Habermasian deliberation, and to regulate one’s behaviour on the basis of such deliberation. This is sometimes called the “capacity contract” view of citizenship, and it has historically been invoked to disenfranchise not only animals, but also a wide range of other members of society who are seen as lacking the capacity for reasoned deliberation (including children and people with cognitive disabilities). This contrast between the membership model and the capacity contract raises deep questions about the very nature and purpose of citizenship, and indeed of politics more generally. Both views have deep roots in the Western tradition of political philosophy, and both face unresolved challenges. If we embrace the membership model, how would we enable animals, children, or people with cognitive disability to enact their citizenship, and to co-author society’s rules? If we embrace the capacity contract, what is the legal and political status of those members of society who do not qualify for citizenship, and how do we ensure that they are governed in ways that are legitimate? The course will explore what we gain, and what we might potentially lose, in opening up citizenship theory to radically diverse forms of belonging and participation.
Texts/Readings:
All readings will be electronically accessible
Assessment:
Seminar presentation; comment sheets; and term paper
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 410/810 - Topics in History of Philosophy – Murty
Topic: 19th and 20th Century Indian Philosophy
FALL (3.0)

We will survey the contributions of about a dozen contemporary Indian philosophers such as Vivekananda, Aurobindo, Gandhi, Tagore, Krishnamurti and Radhakrishnan, to name a few.  If time permits, we will also discuss Ramana Maharshi and Ananda Coomaraswamy. Their relevance to the modern problems of philosophy will be explored and discussed in some detail.  The themes range from epistemology, humanism, aesthetics and political philosophy.
Texts/Readings:
Indian Philosophy in English, edited by N. Bhushan and J.L. Garfield, Oxford University Press, 2011.
Indian Philosophy, An introduction, by M. Ram Murty, Broadview Press, 2012.
Mahatma Gandhi, The Essential Writings, edited by Judith Brown, Oxford World's Classics, May 2008.
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 441/841 - 20th Century Philosophy – Guenther
Topic: Phenomenology
FALL (3.0)

 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. 
Texts/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. 
And articles on onQ.
Assessment:
PHIL 441: 10 minute presentation and 10 page paper
PHIL 841: 20 minute presentation an 20 page paper
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 445/845 - Major Figures – J. Miller
Topic: Ancient Stoicism
FALL (3.0)

This course will cover all parts of ancient Stoicism:  metaphysics, epistemology and ethics.  Our focus will be on the system as originally devised by Zeno, Cleanthes and Chrysippus.  We will take note of contextual and historical factors, such as the state of the texts transmitted to us as well as the other philosophical rivals of the day, especially Epicureanism and Skepticism.  However, our main interest shall be understanding the main Stoic theses regarding the nature of the world and our place in it, as well as the arguments for those claims.
Texts/Readings:
The readings shall be drawn from volume one of Long and Sedley's *The Hellenistic Philosophers*.  The specific texts to be assigned will be noted on the course syllabus, which will be distributed on the first day of class.
Assessment:
This is to be determined, though it will likely consist of one short paper, one long paper, and 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 445/846 - Major Figures - Paul
Topic: Descartes
WINTER (3.0)

This course will examine René Descartes’s views on a wide range of topics in metaphysics and epistemology, including clear and distinct perception, self-knowledge, knowledge in general, skepticism and role that doubt plays in philosophical inquiry, freedom, intellectual virtue, the relationship between mind and body, and the proper framework for natural science. Placing Descartes in his historical context, we will consider the Aristotelian philosophy that he ventures to overturn, as well other figures who influenced him, including the ancient Skeptics and Stoics, Augustine, and Teresa of Àvila.
In addition to Descartes’s most celebrated work, the Meditations on First Philosophy, we will read selections from the Rules for the Direction of the Mind, the Discourse on the Method, the Principles of Philosophy, the Search for Truth, and Descartes’s correspondence.
Texts/Readings:
TBD
Assessment:
TBD
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 459/859 - Current Issues in the Philosophy of Language – Mercier
Topic: TBD
FALL (3.0)

An examination of major issues in contemporary philosophy of language. Possible topics to be studied include: the nature of meaning; the relationship between language and the mind, as well as language and the world; and the syntax, semantics and pragmatics of natural language.
Texts/Readings:
TBD
Assessment:
TBD
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 463/864 - Current Issues in Metaphysics – Mozersky
Topic: Structure and the Observer
WINTER (3.0)

Many thinkers have responded to the threat of scepticism by insisting that empirical reality has no nature independent of our cognitive capacities and activities.  Hence, though we are trapped behind the veil of cognition, reality itself is determined, at least in part, by our capacities, in which case objective – i.e. intersubjective – knowledge is possible.  The sentiment is perhaps most famously presented by Kant, in his Critique of Pure Reason: if the subject or even only the subjective constitution of the senses in general, be removed, … all the relations of objects in space and time, nay space and time themselves would vanish.  As appearances they cannot exist in themselves, but only in us. (“Transcendental Aesthetic” II, sec. 8).
This course is an examination of such a position.  We will consider whether there are persuasive arguments to the effect that the world itself is mind-dependent.  If not, does it follow that reality is ultimately unknowable, mysterious, transcendent, or might it be possible to learn something about an objective, i.e. mind-independent, reality?
This is a wide-ranging course that will address a long-standing metaphysical question in light of recent and contemporary ideas and tools from the sciences, mathematics, and various branches of philosophy.  While no prior knowledge of math and physics is presupposed, a willingness to learn, reflect upon, and engage in abstract, sometimes formal, theories is essential.
Texts/Readings:
TBD
Assessment:
TBD
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 493/893 - Ethics and the Environment - Mick Smith
Topic: Environmental Philosophy
WINTER (3.0)

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.
Texts/Readings:
TBD
Assessment:
TBD
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)].