200 Level Courses

2021-22

Note that some 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

WINTER - ONLINE (3.0)

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.

We will investigate a number of questions, such as:

  • Is there a sharp distinction between fact and value, with science only dealing in facts, while values are strictly subjective?
  • What, if any, values influence science, and what values should influence science?
  • What influence, in turn, should science have on values?
  • What is objectivity? How do we get to an objective view of the world?
  • Is ignorance sometimes deliberately manufactured?

This is just a sampler of some of the gripping questions we will broach. Along the way, we will look at case studies of major contemporary concern, such as climate change, psychiatry and psychiatric disorders, and gender.

Topics:

  • The Classic Fact/Value Dichotomy
  • Science, Politics and Business - Fact and the Value in Action
  • Science and Pseudo-Science
  • What Can We Say is Objective?
  • A New Understanding of Objectivity
  • Case Studies on:
    • Climate Change
    • DSM, and Other Ways of Being
    • Species - Invention or Discovery?
    • Race & Gender - Invention or Discovery?
  • So What is There, Really, in the World?
  • Texts/Readings: ASO 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 at http://www.campusbookstore.com/Textbooks/Search-Engine(link is external) 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
  • Learning hours/time commitment: 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.
  • Prerequisite: Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL.

Instructor: TBA

SUMMER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

An examination of whether life has ‘meaning’, and a consideration of different philosophical interpretations of the meaning of life, the significance of death for the meaning of life, and whether it even makes sense to speak of life as having meaning.  

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

More detailed course description coming soon!

Instructor: Catherine Stinson

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)*

  • Dr. Stinson commutes between Kingston and Toronto, so local lockdowns/travel restrictions may result in the need for some meetings to be moved online.

This course is an introduction to topics in philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, and ethics, through science fiction stories about robots, alien intelligences, future technologies, mad scientists, dystopias, and virtual realities. Each topic will be approached through text and visual media, and connected to discussion of real-world issues. Course materials will include a mix of science fiction classics, popular contemporary work, and more obscure fare that challenges the genre’s boundaries. 

Three major themes will be explored:

  1. Humans, Aliens, Monsters: What does it mean to be a person? On what basis should we decide who gets “human” rights? What kinds of alien intelligence might exist in the universe? What kinds of “alien” intelligence exist on earth? Where does our fascination with monsters come from?
  2. Bodies, Machines, Virtual Worlds: Why do people want to create artificial life? What kinds of relationships can we have with machines? Are virtual experiences as real as offline ones? Would you want to erase or implant memories? Should we try to improve or enhance humanity with technology?
  3. Utopian / Dystopian Futures: What kind of world do we want to live in? Which global crisis poses the biggest existential threat to life on earth? What might the after times look like? Do we have the right to colonize other planets or mine them for resources? Would immortality be a good thing?

Texts/Readings:

The final list of readings/viewings TBA. Some likely options include:

Books: 

  • Ted Chiang, Exhalation
  • Annalee Newitz, Autonomous
  • John Scalzi, Lock In
  • Invisible Planets: 13 Visions of the Future from China
  • Mitêwâcinmowina: Indigenous Science Fiction and Speculative Storytelling
  • Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond 

Film:

  • Blade Runner
  • Okja
  • Solaris

TV:

  • Bojack Horseman
  • The Good Place
  • Star Trek: Discovery
  • Love, Death & Robots

Assessment:

Details TBA. Will likely include participation, 2 essays, and a creative group project.

  • Learning Hours: 120
  • Prerequisite: Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL

Instructor: Jon Miller

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

This course will be a survey of ancient Greek philosophy.  It will start with the group of philosophers commonly known as the pre-Socratics.  These include Thales, Anaxagoras, Heraclitus and Parmenides.  Amongst other things, we will try to understand how the way of thinking which they created differed from ways of thinking found elsewhere in early Greek times.

Once we are finished with the pre-Socratics, we will turn to the great triumverate of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.  We will consider how they related to their predecessors, taking into account both ways in which they continue the traditions established by those who went before them and also how they innovated.  Our readings will necessarily be very selective, focusing on a few key texts from each philosopher.

At the end of the course, we will encounter the Hellenistic schools - the Stoics, Epicureans, Skeptics and Cynics.  Due to time constraints, we will need to isolate just a topic or two for discussion.  Our goal will be to see how the different schools address that topic and what their responses were to the proposals put forward by their competitors.

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

Instructor: Paul Fairfield

SUMMER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

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

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

Instructor: Meena Krishnamurthy

FALL - REMOTE (3.0)

“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 discussion questions, 2 writing assignments
  • Course Structure: Classes will consist of pre-recorded video lectures with some opportunity for discussion online. 
  • Attendance: Optional
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • Prerequisite: Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL

Instructor(s): David Bakhurst (Fall) & Elliot Paul (Winter)

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0) & WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

Fall: In the first term, we will explore epistemological and metaphysical questions as they find expression in the work of five historical figures: Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Kant.  Topics will include: the nature and possibility of objective knowledge, scepticism, personal identity, substance and essence, mind and body, freedom and determinism, a priori knowledge and transcendental arguments.  Although our approach will be historical, we will draw connections to current philosophical debates and bring contemporary insights to bear in evaluating the theories under consideration.

Winter: 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. We will investigate competing answers to the following epistemological questions: What is knowledge and how does it differ mere true belief? To what extent can we really have knowledge, in the face of various skeptical arguments? What provides us with justification for holding a belief: is it merely a matter of having evidence that the belief is true, or can we be justified in holding a belief contrary to our evidence if doing so would benefit us in some way? How does implicit bias affect justification for belief? Do inequities in society result in epistemic injustice toward disadvantaged groups?

  • 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)

Instructor: Lisa Guenther

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

What is the meaning of human existence?  This question feels especially pressing in the midst of a global pandemic that has disrupted our everyday lives and unsettled many of our assumptions about the world, other people, and ourselves.  It is also the core question of Existentialism, a philosophical movement that emerged in France during the Second World War. In this course, we will study four influential existentialists: Camus, Sartre, Beauvoir, and Fanon, beginning with Camus’ absurdist novel, The Plague, and ending with Fanon’s reflections on colonial violence and mental illness.

 

Existentialism is more than a theory; it’s a practice of radical freedom and responsibility.  Inspired by Nietzsche’s perspectivism and by the phenomenological tradition, existentialism takes the concrete experience of individual consciousness as the starting point for philosophy. Many existentialists hold that the world, in itself, is meaningless and absurd; there is no God and no universal measure of right and wrong, good and evil. In the absence of objective standards for knowledge and ethics, individuals must choose or create their own meaning, accepting full responsibility for the implications of their choices. This includes the responsibility to affirm and support the freedom of others; to do otherwise would be “bad faith,” or a refusal to affirm the radical freedom of all human beings.  Ultimately, the practice of individual freedom demands a struggle for collective liberation from oppressive structures such as sexism, racism, colonialism, and economic inequality, which block the full expression of existential freedom and responsibility. 

  • Texts/Readings: 
    • Camus, Albert. The Plague. Trans. Stuart Gilbert. New York: Vintage (Random House), 2009.

    • Sartre, Jean-Paul. Existentialism is a Humanism. Trans. Carol Macomber. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2007.

    • Beauvoir, Simone de. The Ethics of Ambiguity. New York: Philosophical Library/Open Road, 2015.

    • All other required readings will be available on onQ.

  • Assessment: 
    • 2 Essays: 8 double-spaced pages each (2,000 words, excluding bibliography and footnotes) Worth 40% each for a total of 80%
    • Discussion Forum Participation: Worth 20%
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • Prerequisite: Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL.
  • Attendance Expected in Timetabled Slots: I would like to offer this as a blended course with one in-person meeting per week and one online meeting per week.  Attendance is optional/flexible for the online meeting.  

Instructor(s): Meena Krishnamurthy (Fall) & David Bakhurst (Winter)

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0) & WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

Fall Term: 

The first 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 Civil Rights Movement, the Black Lives Matter Protests, and the Wet’suwet’en Resistance to the Coastal GasLink Pipeline.

  • Texts/Readings: Selections from Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Harriet Jacobs, Emmaline Pankhurst, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, and Audre Lorde, among others.
  • Assessment: Weekly reading quizzes/discussion questions, 2-3 short papers.
  • Course Structure: Classes will consist of in person lectures and discussions.
  • Attendance: Mandatory

Winter Term:

Using historical and contemporary sources we will explore a range of theoretical questions about the nature of ethical judgements, moral reasons and moral principles, virtues and vices.  The theories under consideration will include Utilitarianism, Kantianism, relativism, non-cognitivism, moral realism and ethical particularism.

 

  • 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)

Instructor: Nancy Salay

FALL - ONLINE (3.0)

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

FALL - REMOTE (3.0)

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

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

This course looks at religion from a philosophical perspective.  Its goal is not to convert anyone to a particular religious belief but rather to submit religious concepts to careful philosophical analysis.  The course will progress from basic concepts to more rarified ones. 

It will start with questions about God himself/herself/itself.  What are the different ways of thinking about God?  Is there a right way to think about God?  How can we compare different conceptions of God? 

Once we have fixed our concept of God, we will then turn to the big question:  Does God exist?  What reasons do we have to believe that God does exist?  How do the causal factors at play on us affect our thinking about God?  What is the difference between reasons and causes, anyway? 

After we have studied various arguments for the existence of God, we will proceed to consider arguments against the existence of God.  Some of these will be directed at religion while others will target God directly.  How can God exist when there is so much evil in the world?

The course will conclude with reflection on some of God's properties, how humans relate to God (can we have free will given what God is supposed to be?), paradoxes related to prayer and finally the notion of the after-life.

Prerequisite: Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL.

Instructor: Nancy Salay

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (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 - REMOTE (3.0)

We begin the course by asking the quintessentially philosophical question, “What is Literature?” To answer this question, we consider the following topics:

  • The status of literature as an artform
  • Fiction and non-fiction
  • Story, plot and narrative
  • Genre
  • Imagination and make-believe
  • 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.

Instructor: Paul Fairfield 

FALL - ON CAMPUS (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 - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

We study a philosophical classic—Plato’s Symposium—and ask what its subject, Eros, has to do with philosophy. While trying to understand what sex, gender, and love might have meant in male-centred elite Athenian society, two and a half millennia ago, we ask what deifying love, and loving the divine in us, means our thinking and how our lives can be inspired by love. Many first time readers are surprised by what they take to be a highly progressive view of gender sex and love in this ancient philosophical text. This occasions reflection on what we imagine “progress” to be in relation to gender, sex and love.

We attend to the cultural specificities that shaped ancient Greek conceptions of sex, gender, and love, and interrogate current ideologies of sexual love with the help of 20th and 21st century analyses: Michel Foucault’s history of sexuality, Kim TallBear’s critique of settler-colonial sexuality, Nkiru Nzegwu comparison of androcentric western Eros with the feminine African power of Osun, and Audre Lorde’s revelations about uses of the erotic that recognize gender and sexuality as wellsprings of life and revolutionary power.

This lecture course has 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.

Further development of philosophical reading skills and capacities for critical reflection and philosophical imagination are emphasized. Students practice and further 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 (in English translation).
    • A selection of articles and chapters by Foucault, TallBear, Lorde, and Nzegwu, made available electronically through the course website.
  • Assessment:
    • Online (asynchronous) active-reading assignments  (worth a total of 15%)
    • Best 5 out of 6 online, open-book, reading comprehension quizzes (worth a total of 15%)
    • Midterm essay 30%
    • Final exam (public health conditions permitting) or essay (if public health regulations make in person exams impossible) 40%
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • If public health conditions permit, we will meet on campus to study together as a class. If this is not possible, regular attendance at scheduled Zoom meetings will be expected, for dialogical learning as a supplement to recorded lectures.
  • Prerequisite: Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL.

Instructor: Jerome Gosselin-Tapp

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

An introduction to philosophical issues regarding sexism, racism, ageism, homophobia, classism, imperialism and other forms of oppression. NOTE The course is intended to prepare students for upper level courses in feminist philosophy and the philosophy of culture.

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

More detailed course description coming soon!

Instructor: Daphne Brouwer

FALL – ON CAMPUS (3.0)

Canada is known worldwide for its wilderness and wildlife, and Canadian culture is embedded with animal symbolism and references. On top of that, at least 58% of Canadian households share their space with pets, with many more animals surrounding us in our daily lives. Think about the squirrels on your walk to campus, the videos of raccoons trapped in garbage containers that you see on social media, the octopus you have seen in an aquarium, and the beaver and loon you hold in your hand whenever exchanging money. You could even go so far as thinking about the rabbits and rats that are tested on when developing the latest products. Even though humans are so entangled with animals, the discussion of animals as moral beings has only picked up in the last 50 years.

This course will introduce you to historical and contemporary debates concerning the treatment of animals within Western societies and explore our ethical responsibilities toward them. We will discuss philosophical arguments made for and against the moral rights of animals, what the threshold is for being a moral agent, and what the implications of these arguments are in specific case studies – ranging from Indigenous perspectives to labour rights for animals working in war zones.

  • Texts/Readings: Weekly readings will be made available on OnQ.
  • Assessments:
    • Best 5 out of 6, bi-weekly, online discussion posts related to assigned readings (worth a total of 25%)
    • Positioning Animals Assignment: each student will be randomly assigned an animal species and answer the course-related question sections posted on OnQ (25%)
    • Essay topic proposal (15%)
    • Final Essay (35%)
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L; 84P)
  • Prerequisite: Level 2 or above, or completed 6.0 units in PHIL

2020-21

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

FALL - ONLINE (3.0)

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

SPRING - ONLINE (3.0)

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

SPRING - ONLINE (3.0)

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

FALL/WINTER (6.0)

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

FALL/WINTER (6.0)

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

FALL - ONLINE (3.0)

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

WINTER - ONLINE (3.0)

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