200 Level Courses


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

Instructor: Mark Smith


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 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

Instructor: Andrew Lopez


This course focuses on philosophical considerations of life, death, and meaning broadly. That is, we shall focus on grasping philosophically with the nature of life and death, and how we meaningfully relate to them given that we are the kinds of beings that live and die. As such we will consider a diversity of questions, such as: is immortality a desirable state for human beings? Is death a harm, or is it necessary for meaning in life? How do the sciences help us understand life, and do they infringe upon or enable meaning in life? What is the significance of creating new life, and what kinds of concerns do we have about our ability and practices of taking life? Is meaning in life a personal or social enterprise, and what role do relationships, work, and tragedy play in giving meaning? Do other beings die in the way we do? And given that we will die, how should we act toward others and ourselves?

  • Text/Readings: All readings will be available online on OnQ.
  • Assessment (subject to change)
    • 30% - Online Discussion Posts
    • 30% - Quizzes
    • 40% - Final Paper
  • Course Structure: Classes will consist of online lectures and optional online tutorials for discussion and questions.
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • Prerequisite: Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL.

Instructor: Paul Fairfield


An examination of key issues and texts in the philosophy of education. Possible topics include the nature and aims of the learning process, progressive and conservative education, the politics of education, and contemporary debates regarding the canon. NOTE Also offered online. Consult Arts and Science Online. Learning Hours may vary.

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

Instructor: Meena Krishnamurthy

FALL (3.0)

The lectures will be offered asynchronously

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

Instructors: David Bakhurst, Joshua Mozersky


In both Fall and Winter Terms 2020–21, the course will be taught remotely.  

Course material will be posted to the class on-Q site.  Students will not be required to “attend” on-line during the designated class times.  Those times will be used for optional meetings, such as office hours with the instructor or the TAs, or informal discussions.

Fall (Bakhurst): 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.  Using historical and contemporary sources we will explore questions about nature, scope and limits of human knowledge, and investigate the relations between epistemological questions and metaphysical issues about personal identity, self-consciousness and freedom.

Winter (Mozersky): 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 philosophical accounts of certain puzzling features of reality, such as: the relationship between language and reality; the structure of time and space, and the nature of properties.  Metaphysics is sufficiently general and abstract that empirical verification of metaphysical theses is difficult to attain.  If, therefore, we are to engage in metaphysics, the following epistemological question inevitably arises: how, if at all, is metaphysical knowledge possible?  In the second part of this term we shall investigate the nature of a prior knowledge, asking: (1) what it is supposed to be; and (2) whether it is possible.

  • 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)

Instructors: Rahul Kumar, Meena Krishnamurthy


Note: Lectures on the course material for the Fall term will be available through OnQ. You can review that material whenever you like. Prof. Kumar and the TA’s will be holding a live Zoom session for discussion of the posted lecture material on Tuesday’s @ 1 p.m.

Fall (Kumar): What makes a person morally good or admirable? We will consider some of the most influential answers to this question as they are developed in the writings of Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, and Nietzsche. 
Evaluation will be by short papers and a take home exam. 

Winter (Krishnamurthy): The second half of this course will survey the ideas of historical thinkers who argue for radical political change. We will read work by Abolitionists, Suffragists, Anti-colonialists, and Civil Rights Activists. We focus on these thinkers because, for the most part, they are often either under examined or completely ignored by philosophers and hence are ripe for the attention of curious minds! We will consider the ideas that are offered in light of recent revolutionary movements including the Occupy Movement, the Black Lives Matter Protests, and the fight for democracy in Hong Kong.

  • Texts/Readings: Include selections from Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Jacobs, Emmaline Pankhurst, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, and Audre Lorde, among others.
  • Assesment: Weekly reading quizzes, 2 short papers.
  • Course Structure: Classes will consist of online lectures with some opportunity for discussion online 
  • Learning Hours: 240 (76L;168P)
  • Prerequisite: A GPA of 2.0 in 6.0 units in PHIL.

Instructor: Nancy Salay


In this class you will learn how to think critically; you will learn how to evaluate arguments, claims, and beliefs as well as how to make solid arguments of your own. You will learn how to think clearly, a powerful skill indeed.
To help with this, one of the four modules for the term is an introduction to the basics of sentential logic. This will involve some technical work, but nothing that even those who fear, probably incorrectly, that they are ‘bad at math’ couldn’t handle.

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 that will be marked on content, grammar, and style. By the end of the course, you will be writing 500-750-word critiques.

  • 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)

Instructor: Nancy Salay


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 formalisation of deductive reasoning, an ideal that we rarely achieve in our everyday discourse.  By familiarising ourselves with formal patterns and recognising 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 formalise 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

Instructor: Jon Miller

SPRING (3.0)

A consideration of traditional and/or contemporary religious conceptions and arguments. Possible topics include: the  nature and existence of God, and bases of religious claims.

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

Instructor: Nancy Salay

WINTER (3.0)

In this course we will take a philosophical stance towards the cognitive sciences by synthesising the various perspectives of its sub-disciplines — cognitive psychology, computer science, neuroscience, and linguistics — into a comprehensive picture of 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 issues in cognitive science. 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.

Instructor: Deborah Knight

FALL (3.0)

This year, we will survey a range of central topics at the heart of the philosophy of literature, such as: the status of literature as an art; fiction and non-fiction; imagination and make-believe; story, plot and narrative; narrative comprehension and literary interpretation; emotional engagement with fictional narratives; the ethical criticism of literature; the paradox of tragedy.

  • Texts/Readings: Course readings will be available through Queen’s Library’s E-reserves and linked to our OnQ site.
  • Assessment: Students can expect both shorter and longer written assignments. The objective is to develop skills of critical analysis and interpretation.
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L; 84P)
  • Prerequisite: Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL
  • Note: The course will be available through OnQ. New lecture material will be posted for each class according to the timetable, therefore student availability during timetabled slots is recommended. Students should expect to spend approximately 10 hours a week on classes, readings, assignments and related activities.

Instructor: Paul 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 may write either one longer or two shorter essays which will count for 100% of the grade in the course—either one essay of approximately 5000-6000 words, to be worth 100% of the grade, or two essays of half that length and worth 50% each. Essays will be graded on the basis of quality of argumentation/interpretation and writing style.
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • Prerequisite: Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL.

Instructor: Jacqueline Davies

WINTER (3.0)

We study a classic in the philosophy of gender, sex and love—Plato’s Symposium—and ask what Eros has to do with philosophy. We also study historical (e.g. by Immanuel Kant) and contemporary (e.g. by Kim TallBear, Gayle Rubin) texts on questions that sexuality, gender and love raise about our personal rights and responsibilities. We investigate how values are embedded in the ways that sex, gender, and love are socially organized and regulated. We read contemporary texts (e.g. Nkiru Nzegwu, Saylesh Wesley, Joan Roughgarden, Michel Foucault) that raise awareness of how specifically modern western ideas are embedded within the formal institutions and the popular ideologies that shape what we think our identities and desires naturally are.

This is a lecture course with lots of space for classroom and online discussion and engagement with multi-media materials. Students are encouraged to identify and critically reflect on their own preconceptions. We critically evaluate diverse responses to ethical, legal and political questions that arise in sexual contexts. 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, as is critical reflection. Students practice and develop their skills in written argumentation: formulating 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:
    • A scaffolded argumentative essay assignment (graded in three parts worth 5%, 10%, and 15%)
    • 5 active reading assignments  (worth a total of 10%)
    • 5 online open-book reading comprehension quizzes (worth a total of 10%)
    • 5 discussion posts (250 words each, pass/fail worth a total of 10%)
    • 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

Instructor: Lisa Guenther

Special Topic: Social Diversity in a Pandemic

FALL (3.0)

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing the world, but not everyone is affected in the same way or to the same degree.  In this course, we will study the way race, class, gender, Indigeneity, sexuality, and disability have shaped the impact of COVID-19 and other pandemics.  Throughout the course, we will read philosophical texts about social diversity by authors such as Kimberlé Crenshaw, Arundhati Roy, Judith Butler, and Mike Davis alongside current blog posts, podcasts, and webinars in which these authors share their perspectives on the COVID-19 pandemic.  Students will be guided through a process of writing their own blog post, beginning with weekly reflection papers and culminating in the co-creation of a website.  For an example of this final assignment, see the website created by students in this class in Winter 2020. We will begin the course by studying this website, both as a way to learn more about social diversity in Ka’tarohkwi/Kingston, and also as a possible model for your own final project.

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

Instructor: Jishnu Guha-Majumdar

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. 

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