200 Level Courses

2022-23

PHIL 204              
Life Death & Meaning
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Manning      

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.

PHIL 206              
Science Fiction
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Stinson    


This is an introduction to topics in philosophy through accessible science fiction stories about robots, alien intelligences, future technologies, mad scientists, dystopias, and virtual realities. Topics will span philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, bioethics, epistemology, and metaphysics. Each topic will be approached through text (short story, novel, graphic novel) and visual media (film, TV show, music video), and connect to discussion of real-world issues. Course materials will include a mix of science fiction classics, popular contemporary fare, and works that challenge the genre’s boundaries.


Texts/Readings
Annalee Newitz, Autonomous
Nnedi Okorafor, Binti: Home
Rivers Solomon, The Deep
The final book list will be announced in September.


Assessment
 2 essays, 1 creative group project, weekly quizzes or final exam.
 

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

PHIL 224
Africana Philosophy I    
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Ruwe             

This class will explore the emergence of Africana philosophy begin with resistance movements in Africa and the new world against slavery. As such we will read legal petitions, letters and speeches and treatise by Africana thinkers challenging western slavery. We will also explore the development of Black organizations and movements centered on the abolishment of slavery.

Assessment: Students will have 2 essay exams worth 50 percent of your grade and a final paper which will be 50 percent of your grade.

Learning Hours: 120

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

PHIL 233              
Greek Philosophy
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Fairfield       

This course will survey central works of Ancient Greek Philosophy from Thales and the other Pre-Socratics through the seminal works of Plato and Aristotle, and may include examples of later works by Post-Hellenic Philosophers including Plotinus, the Stoics, and the Skeptics.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P)

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL. Exclusion No more than 1 course from PHIL232; PHIL233. 

Course Equivalencies: PHIL232B; PHIL233 

PHIL 247             
Practical Ethics
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Wrage

PHIL 247

Practical Ethics

Fall – in person

Instructor: Birte Wrage

 

Course description:

This course introduces main positions in deontology, consequentialism, and virtue ethics as theoretical foundations of practical ethics. Are there actions that are wrong in themselves, or do only outcomes matter? What kind of person should I be? On this background the course explores classical topics and current debates in bioethics, animal ethics, and environmental ethics: the challenges in decision-making at the beginning of life, the allocation of limited resources in medical care, the moral status of nonhuman animals, the morality of animal use, the value of nature, or the distribution of responsibility for anthropogenic climate change. The course aims to shine a light on the complexities of these issues, and to give students the tools to identify and analyze moral dilemmas beyond the discussed cases.

 

 

Texts/readings:

All readings will be available on onQ.

  • Kant, Immanuel. 2012. “Morality and Rationality.” In Ethics: Essential Readings in Moral Theory, edited by George Sher. New York: Routledge, chapter 29, 327–342.
  • Mill, John Stuart. 2012. “Utilitarianism.” In Ethics: Essential Reading in Moral Theory, edited by George Sher. New York: Routledge, chapter 22, 241–252.
  • Wolf, Susan. 2012. “‘One Thought Too Many’: Love, Morality, and the Ordering of Commitment.” In Luck, Value, and Commitment, edited by Ulrike Heuer and Gerald Lang, 71–92. Oxford University Press.
  • Kuhse, Helga, and Peter Singer. 2009. “What is Bioethics? A Historical Introduction.” In A Companion to Bioethics, second edition, edited by Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Rachels, James. 2009. “Ethical Theory and Bioethics.” In A Companion to Bioethics, second edition, edited by Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer, 15–23. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Chadwick, Ruth, and Udo Schüklenk. 2021. This is Bioethics. Hoboken: Wiley Blackwell.
  • Warren, Mary Anne. 2009. “Abortion.” In A Companion to Bioethics, second edition, edited by Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer, 140–148. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Harris, John. 1975. “The Survival Lottery.” Philosophy 50: 81–87.
  • Savulescu, Julian. 2009. “Genetic enhancement.” In A Companion to Bioethics, second edition, edited by Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer, 216–234. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Selgelid, Michael. 2009. “Infectious disease.” In A Companion to Bioethics, second edition, edited by Helga Kuhse and Peter Singer, 430–440. West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.
  • Singer, Peter. 1975/2009. Animal Liberation. New York / London: Harper Perennial, chapter 1.
  • Regan, Tom. 2002. “The Case for Animal Rights.” In Ethics. History, Theory, and Contemporary Issues, second edition, edited by Steven Cahn and Peter Markie, 825–832. New York / Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Hursthouse, Rosalind. 2006. “Applying virtue ethics to our treatment of the other animals.” In The Practice of Virtue, edited by Jennifer Welchman. Hackett Publishing Co.
  • Gruen, Lori. “Eating animals.” In Ethics and Animals. An Introduction, 76–104. Cambridge University Press.
  • Webb, Christine, Peter Woodford, & Elise Huchard. 2020. “The Study That Made Rats Jump for Joy, and Then Killed Them: The Gap between Knowledge and Practice Widens When Scientists Fail to Engage with the Ethical Implications of Their Own Work.” BioEssays 42(6): 2000030.
  • Andrews, Kristin, & Susana Monsó. 2019. “Rats are us.” Aeon. https://aeon.co/essays/why-dont-rats-get-the-same-ethical-protections-as-primates
  • Malamud, Randy. 2017. “The Problem with Zoos.” In The Oxford Handbook of Animal Studies, edited by Linda Kalof, 396–410. Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199927142.013.006.
  • Jamieson, Dale. 2008. Ethics and the Environment. An Introduction, 68–75. Cambridge University Press.
  • Heneghan, Liam. 2013. “The ecology of Pooh.” Aeon, March 15, 2013. URL: https://aeon.co/essays/can-we-ever-return-to-the-enchanted-forests-of-childhood
  • Elliott, Robert. 2001. “Normative ethics.” In A Companion to Environmental Philosophy, edited by Dale Jamieson, 177-190. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Davion, Victoria. 2001. “Ecofeminism.” In A Companion to Environmental Philosophy, edited by Dale Jamieson, 233-247. Malden, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Sandler, Ronald. 2012. “The conservation biology dilemma.” In The Ethics of Species: An Introduction, 47–75. Cambridge University Press.
  • Sebo, Jeff. 2020. “All we owe to animals.” Aeon, January 15, 2020. URL: https://aeon.co/essays/we-cant-stand-by-as-animals-suffer-and-die-in-their-billions
  • Eckersley, Robyn. 2016. “Responsibility for Climate Change as a Structural Injustice.” In The Oxford Handbook of Environmental Political Theory, edited by Teena Gabrielson, Cheryl Hall, John M. Meyer, and David Schlosberg, 346–361. Oxford University Press.

 

Assessment:

To successfully complete the course, three short essays have to be written over the course of the term, one on each main topic (bioethics, animal ethics, environmental ethics). Detailed instructions for each essay will be given in the indicated sessions, and will be accessible online.

The final grade is based on the third essay (50%), the better one of the other two essays (50%). Essay due dates: October 15: Bioethics; November 06: Animal ethics; December 09: Environmental ethics. Late essays will be accepted, but will lose 1/3 letter grade for each day late.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P).

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

PHIL 250 A/B     
Epistemology and Metaphysics
FALL & WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Bakhurst/Mozersky 

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: 

Metaphysics is the attempt to uncover the most general structure of reality, in other words, how everything hangs together.  Throughout most of its history, philosophy has been centred on metaphysics.  Why?  Because philosophy is, in large part, the attempt to understand ourselves, and it is hard to see how we can understand our own nature without understanding the surroundings that formed and contain us.

There is, however, a problem.  The method of metaphysics is rational reflection, thinking carefully and rigorously about such concepts as space, time, matter, causation, person, truth, and so on.  This raises a concern: how can even the most careful and logical thinking inform us about the nature of the world?  Won’t it simply tell us about the structure of thought itself, perhaps only our own thoughts?  How, in other words, can the mind reach beyond its own activities to reveal the nature of extra-mental reality just by acts of contemplation, no matter how careful and rigorous?

            This is a puzzle that lies at the heart of metaphysics, which philosophers have sought to address for millennia.  In the Western philosophical tradition, the discussion has centered on the relationship between reason and reality, with different philosophers proposing different theories to explain how the latter might, or might not, be delimited by the former.  Philosophical paradoxes figure prominently in such work because they are places where the rational understanding of reality appears to break down, so they are good test cases for trying out new ways of thinking that expand the reach of reason to better capture the world’s structure.

In this term, we will explore the relationship between reason and reality by examining various puzzling features of the world, including: the nature of time; the difference between time and space; the relationship between properties and objects; persistence and change; the nature of the self, necessity and possibility; why the world exists.

Winter texts/readings: TBD

Winter asssessment: two essays/final exam

  • 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).

PHIL 256
Existentialism  
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Guenther

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. 

 

PHIL 257 A/B     
Ethics
FALL & WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Sypnowich/ Bakhurst    

Fall term

Term two focuses on political philosophy, its central thinkers, concepts and frameworks, focussing on the powerful arguments of ‘classic’ writings in political philosophy from Hobbes’s Leviathan to Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women and Marx and Engels’s Communist Manifesto.  Students will consider the exciting and contrasting traditions and orientations of political thought with some emphasis on their historical context. Scrutiny will be given to what motivates political positions and how they are set out and defended.  The course concludes with a few recent important essays in contemporary political philosophy that convey how the ideas of historical figures continue to inspire reflection, analysis – and subversion!  The course seeks to strike a balance between thinkers and concepts by viewing political philosophy in the thematic terms of an ongoing debate between ‘individualistic’ and ‘communitarian’ perspectives.

Texts:

  • Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan, Oxford
  • John Locke, Second Treatise of Government, Hackett
  • J.-J. Rousseau, Basic Political Writings, Hackett
  • Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Men, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Oxford
  • John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women, Hackett
  • G.W.F. Hegel, Outlines of the Philosophy of Right, Oxford
  • Karl Marx, Selected Writings, Hackett

Course Structure: Classes will consist of lectures with some opportunity for discussion. 

Marking Scheme: In-class essay, 6-8 page submitted essay, final examination (either take-home or in the exam period)

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).

PHIL 259 (ASO)
Critical Thinking
FALL – ONLINE
Instructor: 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. 2021. Critical Thinking, 13th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill

OR 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)

PHIL 260              
Introduction to Logic
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: 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. 

Most of the lectures are pre-recorded and can be viewed asynchronously; however, the scheduled class times will be used for small group work, individual assistance, as well as extra instruction as needed. This extra instruction is typically needed! If you sign up for this class, but do not/cannot attend the scheduled hours, you will be on your own with the textbook and the recorded lectures: there will be no other hours, apart from office hours, to accommodate students who sign up for the class but cannot attend during the scheduled hours. This is challenging material and I do not recommend this, but the choice is ultimately yours. Evaluation is through quizzes and scheduled/proctored midterm and final exams. 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

PHIL 261
Philosophy of Mathematics       
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Mozersky     

Will the future resemble the past?  How should we decide what to do?  Can groups make rational decisions?  What is the best way to draw conclusions about the unknown?  Are we living in a computer simulation? 

These questions have two things in common.  First, their solutions continue to evade philosophers and others who have thought about them.  Secondly, their answers depend on probabilistic and inductive reasoning. 

This course introduces the basic concepts, tools, and techniques of probability and inductive logic so that students will be equipped to reflect thoughtfully and precisely on these and related questions.  Topics to be covered include: the calculation of probabilities; the uses of probability in decision-making; paradoxes of decision; the nature of probability; uncertainty and risk; the relationship between probability and statistics; the philosophical problem of induction; the new riddle of induction; anthropic reasoning and the simulation hypothesis. 

No prior familiarity with probability is assumed and any necessary mathematical tools will be introduced to students.

No prior familiarity with philosophy is assumed and students from other departments are warmly welcomed.

Texts/Readings: Ian Hacking, An Introduction to Probability and Inductive Logic (campus bookstore); additional readings available on the course onQ page.

Assessment: Two term tests/final exam

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P).

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

PHIL 263
Philosophy of Religion 
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Miller            

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.

Readings will be drawn from two sources – a textbook and an anthology. The readings are concise and targeted to specific topics. The syllabus will indicate what exactly students are expected to read. As for assignments, there will be two short papers due during the semester and one final essay due during the exam period. Students will also have to write brief comment sheets. More information on the assignments will be given at the start of the semester.

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

PHIL 270
Minds and Machines    
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Salay              

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.

PHIL 273
Continental Philosophy, 1800-1900         
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Fairfield


This 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, existentialism and hermeneutics, among others.

Texts:

  • Søren Kierkegaard, Concluding Unscientific Postscript
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
  • Wilhelm Dilthey, Introduction to the Human Sciences

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

PHIL 275
Thinking Gender, Sex and Love 
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Davies           
 

We study a classic in the philosophy of sexual love and gender—Plato’s Symposium—and ask what Eros has to do with philosophy. We read Plato alongside contemporary reflections on the meaning of erotic love, as well as the social organization and regulation of sexuality and gender. Among the twentieth and twenty-first century texts we read are stories, articles or chapters by Beth Brant, Audre Lorde, Kim TallBear, Nkiru Nzegwu, Saylesh Wesley, Joan Roughgarden, and Michel Foucault.

This is a lecture course with lots of space for classroom and online discussion and engagement with multi-media materials.

Philosophical reading skills are a strong emphasis, as is critical reflection. Students are encouraged to identify and critically reflect on their own preconceptions as well as the assumptions and implications of the texts studied. 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 through e-reserves.

Assessment:

  • Classroom participation  (5%)
  • Active reading assignments  (10%)
  • Best 5 out of 6 online reading comprehension quizzes (5%)
  • Midterm Essay (35%)
  • Final Essay (45%)

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

PHIL 296
Animals and Society      
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Pablo Castello             

This course will introduce you to the animal turn with a particular emphasis on questions related to animal ethics, justice, and politics. It will be divided in three modules. First, we will explore the question ‘Who are animals?’ In this first module, we will learn why understanding who animals are (and can become) matters ethically and politically speaking. In the second module, we will learn about traditional animal ethics, and the interconstituted nature of oppressions regarding gender, race, ability, geography, and animality. In the third module, we will think and imagine what a more just political and legal system for human and nonhuman animals could look like, with a special focus on zoodemocratic theory. We will discuss questions such as: How can animals’ voices co-author democracies and the common good?

Texts/Readings:

  • Adams, C. J. and Gruen, L. (2022) ‘Ecofeminist Footings’, in Adams, C. J. and Gruen, L. (eds) Ecofeminism: Feminist Intersection with Other Animals and the Earth. London: Bloomsbury 
  • Crenshaw, K. (1989) ‘Demarginalizing the Intersection of Race and Sex: A Black Feminist Critique of Antidiscrimination Doctrine, Feminist Theory and Antiracist Politics’, The University of Chicago Legal Forum, 140, 139–167
  • Donaldson, S. and Kymlicka, W. (2011) Zoopolis: A Political Theory of Animal Rights. Oxford: Oxford University Press 
  • Francione, G. (1995) ‘The Problem: “Unnecessary” Suffering and the “Humane” Treatment of Property’, in Animals, Property, and the Law. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. 
  • Hutto, J. (2014) ‘The World as Perceived by a Mule-Deer’, in Hutto, J. Touching the Wild: Living with the Mule Deer of Deadman Gulch. New York: Skyhorse Publishing.  
  • Ko, S. (2017) ‘By “Human” Everybody Just Means “White”’, in Ko, A. and Ko, S. Aphro-ism: Essays on Pop Culture, Feminism, and Black Veganism from Two Sisters, 20-27 
  • Nussbaum, M. (2007), ‘Beyond “Compassion and Humanity”: Justice for Nonhuman Animals’, in Frontiers of Justice: Disability, Nationality, Species Membership. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press 
  • Singer, P. (1975/2009) ‘All Animals Are Equal’, in Singer, P. Animal Liberation. New York: Harper Collins. 


Assessment: The course will be assessed through essays. There won't be an exam.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P).
Requirements: Prerequisite Level 2 or above or completed 6.0 units in PHIL. 

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

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. 2021. Critical Thinking, 13th Edition. New York: McGraw-Hill
    OR 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. 

Most of the lectures are pre-recorded and can be viewed asynchronously; however, the scheduled class times will be used for small group work, individual assistance, as well as extra instruction as needed. This extra instruction is typically needed! If you sign up for this class, but do not/cannot attend the scheduled hours, you will be on your own with the textbook and the recorded lectures: there will be no other hours, apart from office hours, to accommodate students who sign up for the class but cannot attend during the scheduled hours. This is challenging material and I do not recommend this, but the choice is ultimately yours. Evaluation is through quizzes and scheduled/proctored midterm and final exams. 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 - CANCELLED (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