300 Level Courses

2022-23

PHIL 301
Bioethics            
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Gordon-Solmon        

An investigation of some moral issues arising in connection with health care, including: the relationship between patient and health care provider; reproductive decision-making; euthanasia and the nature of death; and the development of health care policy.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P).

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 3 or above. 

PHIL 303              
Markets and Morals
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Teaching Fellow

An examination of the moral principles involved in the evaluation of business institutions, practices and decisions. Sample topics include: liberty, efficiency and the free market ideal; the market and justice in distribution.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P).

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 3 or above. Exclusion COMM 338. 

PHIL 311
Philosophy of Psychology           
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Bakhurst       

What is the nature of mind and to what extent can it be disclosed by natural-scientific methods?  This course draws on the ideas of a variety of thinkers—such as Bruner, Hacking, McDowell, Midgley, Vygotsky, Wiggins, and Wittgenstein—to explore the nature of psychological explanation.  We will examine the social dimensions of the human mind, addressing questions of personhood, identity, rationality, freedom and self-knowledge. We shall also consider how these issues illuminate the psychology of learning, development and education.

Texts/Reading: Bakhurst, The Formation of Reason; Midgely, Beast and Man; plus various articles and supplementary text to be determined

Prerequisite: PHIL 250/6.0 or 12.0 units in PSYC or permission of the Department.

Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)

Prerequisite: Level 3 or above

PHIL 316              
Philosophy of Art
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Knight           

The course examines key issues in the philosophy of art and philosophical aesthetics, such as: What is art? What are aesthetic concepts and how do we apply them? What counts as a viable theory of art? Can "art" be defined"? 

Alongside these theoretical questions, we will consider a range of examples including works of "fine" art, popular art, and public art, as well as questions concerning the aesthetics of the everyday and of the natural environment.  

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 including weekly comment sheets and essays. The objective is to develop skills of critical analysis and interpretation.

Prerequisite: Level 3 or above

Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)

Attendance Expected in Timetabled Slots: Yes

PHIL 318
Philosophy of Law          
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Ruwe             

Recent debates in the U.S and Canada have centered on concerns about Critical Race Theory and its impact on race-relations and the way history is taught within the K-12 system. This class will be an exploration of the origins of Critical Race Theory beginning with the concerns that Derrick Bell the progenitor of Critical Race Theory had about American education and the legal systems inability to rectify the crimes committed against Black people. This class will also explore how Critical Race Theory has been applied in the Canadian context to show how the law continues to subordinate racialized groups.

Assessment: Students will have an interview assignment which is 10 percent of your grade. You will have 2 social justice papers in which you will analyze a contemporary issue using analysis from class discussion. The social justice papers are 60 percent of your grade. Students will also have a final presentation that builds on the research you have completed which is 30 percent of your grade.

Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)

Prerequisite: Level 3 or above.

PHIL 332              
Comparative Classical Philosophies
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Smith

This course offers a comparative study of themes in the ancient philosophical traditions of Greece, China and India, over the period from roughly the 6th century BCE to the 2nd century CE. Our reading will range over Plato, Aristotle, and Epicurus; Kongzi (Confucius), Mengzi (Mencius), and Xunzi; the Dhammapada, Kautilya, and Nagarjuna. Themes will include self and no-self, ethics, logic and paradox, mind and embodiment, and other topics.

Texts/Readings: TBA

Assessment: 3 short comparative analyses, 1 midterm paper, 1 final paper

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P).

Requirements: Prerequisite PHIL 250 or permission of the Department. 

PHIL 343
Social & Political Philosophy     
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Michael Luoma

What justifies the political authority of groups to govern particular geographically demarcated lands? Can the Canadian state ever be a legitimate holder of territorial rights in the context of enduring colonial injustice—if so, how, and with respect to which lands? This course will offer an introduction to contemporary philosophical theories of territorial rights and Indigenous theories of resurgence and decolonization. Our objective will be to appraise the resources and limits of territorial rights theory for understanding the obligation and process of territorial decolonization in Canada. Central topics will include: the Land Back movement, the nature of territorial political authority, cultural rights, collective self-determination, treaty politics, restitution, state reconciliation programs, Indigenous conceptions of land, and Indigenous law. The course will be evenly divided between readings in contemporary territorial rights theory in the liberal tradition and contemporary Indigenous political theory. 

 

Texts/Readings

The majority of course readings are contemporary academic articles available online. Authors will include Patrick Wolfe, Matt James, John Rawls, A. John Simmons, Margaret Moore, Anna Stilz, David Miller, James Tully, Dale Turner, Alfred Taiaiake, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Glen Sean Coulthard, Aaron Mills, Val Napoleon, and James Sakej Youngblood Henderson.

 

Assessment

Expository paper, 4 pages, 20%.

Critical application assignment, 6 pages, 35%.

Final essay, 10 pages, 45%.

 

Requirements: Prerequisite PHIL 257 or (POLS 250 and 6.0 units in PHIL).

PHIL 352
Metaphysics     
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Smith

The special focus of this term’s material will be on the metaphysics of the human person. Does the concept “person” pick out a natural kind having a distinctive essence? Or does it just pick out a specific sort of animal? Is there such a thing as the self, which accounts for enduring personal identity, or is the self an illusion? Is there such a phenomenon as free will, or is that perhaps an illusion also? These and other metaphysical questions that have specifically to do with human life and our self-conception will be broached, largely through contemporary work in metaphysics. Among others, we will read work by Christine Korsgaard, Paul Snowdon, Galen Strawson, and Harry Frankfurt.

Texts/Readings: All available electronically via onQ site

Assessment: 3 short argument analyses, 1 midterm paper, 1 final paper

Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)

Prerequisite: PHIL 250/6.0 or permission of the Department

PHIL 359
Philosophy of Language  
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Mercier        

Central issues include: the distinction between language and speech; the syntax/semantics/pragmatics trio; reference, denoting, names and descriptions; meaning, truth and verifiability; realism and anti-realism; linguistic forms of pragmatism, behaviourism, idealism, etc.

Requirements: Prerequisite PHIL 250 or permission of the Department. 
 

PHIL 362
Further Studies in Logic
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Mercier   

     
The course will cover the full polyadic predicate calculus with identity and definite descriptions, otherwise known as Basic Logic for Philosophers. One focus will be on skill development in translation from (ambiguous, vague, contextual) English into (unambiguous, fully perspicuous, eternal) logical formalization, expanded to various quantifiers (universal, existential, definite) practicing the important logical and cognitive notion of scope. This skill enhances clarity, rigour, and complexity in thought. Another focus will be on skill development in various techniques of formal reasoning: syntactic derivation and semantic inference methods; model theory and invalidity proofs. This skill enhances understanding of validity and invalidity, and improves cognitive reasoning abilities through variety and reenforcement.

Requisite: Hard work and dedication. The course requires the use of a remarkable interactive computer program from UCLA available for free, which takes a bit of getting used to but is immensely beneficial. The course is exercise-based. It is not enough to be passively competent with the Language of Logic for it to enhance one’s reasoning abilities. One must be actively fluent in it. The numerous exercises teach and practice every facet and subtlety of English syntax, and the mistakes of reasoning to which humans are prone.

Requirements: Bi-weekly tests, and a final exam.

Prerequisites: Full propositional logic, including facility with translations of English and boolean operators (conjunctions, disjunctions, conditionals) and with formal manipulation of rules of inference. High marks and motivation in PHIL 260, or permission of instructor. (PHIL 260/3.0) or ELEC 270/3.0.

NOTE:  Availability in timetabled slots is expected for this course.

PHIL 367              
Jewish Philosophy
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Joshua Livingstone

This course will focus on the work of philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt. In particular, we will examine the relationship between Arendt’s Jewish writings and her broader political theory. We will also consider the ways in which her experience as a refugee (newcomer) and stateless person helped to shape her ideas generally. Texts that will be covered include The Jewish Writings, Eichmann in Jerusalem, The Human Condition and The Life of the Mind.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P).

Requirements: Prerequisite (6.0 units in PHIL or JWST) or permission of the Department. 

Course Equivalencies: PHIL267, PHIL367 

PHIL 373
Continental Philosophy 1900-1960          
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Fairfield       

This lecture course provides an analysis of key figures and texts in continental European philosophy between 1900 and 1960. Possible figures include Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger, Karl Jaspers, Gabriel Marcel, Hannah Arendt, and Hans-Georg Gadamer. Possible topics include phenomenology, existentialism, and hermeneutics.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P).

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 3 or above.

PHIL 376
Philosophy & Feminism
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Davies           

Feminism is a political movement organized in resistance to women’s oppression. Its rationale and implications are theorized as a function of the shared experiences of women in the movement, especially those who voices have been privileged. Historically and politically specific conditions shape how the category “woman” is constructed as a category of theory and practice. They also affect how diverse modes of women’s oppression are conceived, for example, in relation to such forces as “classical” patriarchy, bourgeois capitalism, white supremacy and colonialism, as well as cis- and hetero-normativity. Feminist thought has also been developed with and against the work of canonical non-feminist philosophers, liberation theorists and movement leaders.  Our study of feminist theory will attend to these diverse influences. 

Alongside selections from 20th century feminist theorists (e.g. Simone de Beauvoir, Catharine MacKinnon, Mary Daly, Carol Gilligan, Carole Pateman, and Judith Butler) who imagine women’s experience relatively uninflected by race, class, and colonialism, we will read analyses of oppression, resistance and resurgence shaped by attention to experiences at the intersections of gender, Indigeneity, colonialism, transphobia, and white supremacism (e.g. Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Angela Davis, Sandy Stone, Patricia J. Williams, Audre Lorde, Nkiru Nzegwu and Viviane Namaste).

Skills in reading theory are emphasized, as is the capacity to think critically about philosophical assumptions and their political as well as philosophical implications. Students are supported in further developing their capacity for clear oral and written analysis, exposition, and argument. Regular attendance at lectures and participation in class discussion is expected.

Texts/Readings:

  • A selection of articles and book chapters will be available through Queen’s e-reserves.
  • Revolutionary Feminisms: Conversations on Collective Action and Radical Thought. Edited by Brenna Bhandar and Rafeef Ziadeh. Verso Books: 2020. Available from the Queen's Campus Bookstore or through the publisher’s website

Assessment:

  • Classroom participation 10%
  • Collaborative reading assignments 15%
  • Midterm short expository essay (approx. 1500 words), 30%
  • Final essay (approx. 2000 words), 45%

Learning Hours: 120 (36L; 84P)

Prerequisite: (6.0 units in PHIL or GNDS at the 200-level or above) or permission of the Department)

PHIL 382              
Space-Time, Matter & Reality
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Mozersky     

The development of contemporary physics has greatly altered our understanding of the universe we inhabit.  In so doing, it has a direct impact on many long-standing philosophical issues, such as: the relationship between the observer and the observed; the nature of space, time, and matter; the nature of properties; the possibility of gaining knowledge of the mind-independent world; the nature of abstract objects; the mind-body relationship; the possibility of time travel; and more.

            This course is a detailed, cross-disciplinary examination the implications of physics for these and related philosophical concerns.  Questions to be addressed include: Is time real?  Is the passage of time an illusion?  Is the direction of time an illusion?  What is the nature of infinity?  Is the structure of space-time objective or merely a convention?  Does physics reveal a mind-independent reality or do observers in some way construct reality?  Is it possible to provide a complete description of reality?

While a willingness to learn some (very elementary) formal techniques is important for this course, it does not presuppose any background in math or science beyond the basic high school level.  Science and math students are, however, warmly invited.

Texts/Readings:

  • Nick Huggett, Space from Zeno to Einstein (Campus Bookstore)
  • Peter Lewis, Quantum Ontology: A Guide to the Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics (Campus Bookstore)
  • Some additional readings (onQ)

Assessment: Two term tests; final exam

Prerequisite: Level 3 or above

Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)

PHIL 384              
Consciousness
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Salay

In these early years of the 21st-Century, consciousness has become the final frontier for science, but not so long ago 'mind talk' was strictly taboo in the sciences and the subject was thought to be anathema to academic study. Times have changed: 60 years of advances in brain recording technology, increased cooperation between cognitive scientists of different sub-disciplines, and easier access to the resulting work has led to a field of consciousness studies.

That said, consciousness is still a very hard problem, the hard problem, perhaps, and we deepen our understanding of it by integrating our new findings with insights we have already gained. In this course we will do just that by exploring, through theory and practise, some of the most important philosophies of consciousness and their connections to recent scientific consciousness research. Some of the perspectives we will be looking more closely at are Buddhism, Phenomenology, and Embodied Cognitive Science.

Learning Hours: 144 (24L;12Lb;84P)

Prerequisite: Level 3 or above

PHIL 390 A/B
Philosophical Practice
Topic: Ethics/Duties, Constraints, Prerogatives, and Permissions             
FALL & WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Gordon-Solmon/Sismondo 

This is a skills course intended especially for students considering graduate study in philosophy. The fall term provides intensive training in philosophical writing. Its topic is always one of the department's core areas: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy or history. The winter term is a practicum: students will serve as writing tutors for the PHIL 111.

Here are some innocuous claims.  Some states of affairs are better than others, in virtue of being better for persons than others.  (For example, states of affairs in which we suffer less are better, other things equal, than those in which we suffer more.)  We have presumptive moral reason to help bring about better states of affairs, which will sometimes be decisive.  But we also have prerogatives to favour our own interests, sometimes at the expense of what is impartially best. Third, and lastly, we are subject to moral constraints, which limit what we can do in pursuit of our own, or others’, good. Again, none these claims is terribly controversial.  Nevertheless, taken together, they give rise to various puzzles, and even paradoxes.  Our task will be to work through some of these (in particular, their treatments in the contemporary literature), and toward a better understanding of duties, constraints, prerogatives, and permissions.

Texts/Readings:  All readings will be available on OnQ.

Assessment/Fall term: Written argument reconstructions (2 total); argument reconstruction rewrites, supplemented with critiques (2 total); final essay; participation; presentation

Assessment/Winter Term: Practicum performance. Note that we will not meet weekly during the winter term; practicum hours and occasional class meetings will be scheduled around students’ other academic commitments.

Learning Hours: 228 (36S;42Pc;144P)

Prerequisite: level 3 or above and permission of the department.

Note:  This course is capped at 15 students.  Admission is by application: a letter of interest, a letter of recommendation from a Philosophy faculty member, and an informal transcript.  Normally, successful applicants will (i) be registered in a Philosophy Major or Medial Plan and (ii) have a GPA of at least 3.0 in each of PHIL 250 and PHIL 257.  Please e-mail your letter of application and informal transcript to Professor Gordon-Solmon (kg59@queensu.ca); ask your reference to do the same with their letter.

Applications received by August 10, 2022 are guaranteed consideration.  After that date, applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the class is full.

LEARNING HOURS 228 (36S;42Pc;144P)

Requirements: Prerequisite Registration in a Philosophy Major Plan and (a GPA of 2.4 in each of PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and permission of the Department. 
 

PHIL 444/844     
Philosophy in the Community
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Sypnowich  

This is an exciting new course open that provides an opportunity to upper-level Philosophy concentrators (third and fourth year) for a volunteer placement in the community.  Students consider how philosophy can bear upon, and be informed by, the work of a particular community organization, affording a unique learning experience that can also contribute to career development.  The course involves placement hours, occasional class meetings, regular reports and a final research essay that analyses both philosophical literature and the placement experience.

Learning Hours: 120(9S;27Pc;84P)

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

Application form should have deadline of September 19. 2022.

Please retain the blurb at the top of the linked page, which warns the pandemic might mean remote format for some activities, but delete this paragraph on the main page:

More information about the course, community placements, and how to apply can be found at this link.

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: Omar Bachour

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

PHIL 301 - Bioethics

Beginning with a discussion of the four guiding principles of bioethics—respect for autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice—this course examines some of the key topics in the field: abortion and reproductive rights; prenatal screening, genetic manipulation, and cloning; voluntary euthanasia and medically assisted suicide; experimentation on animals; and matters of public health. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we dedicate the last part of the course to an investigation of “pandemic bioethics” (policies of SARS‑CoV‑2 containment and public adherence; allocating personal protective equipment [PPE] and vaccines; privacy and status certificates; professional ethical obligations; and structural inequalities). We will use the most up-to-date bioethics anthology edited by Schüklenk and Singer, which collects all the seminal bioethics readings in a single volume and contains new articles on the controversies and ethical questions related to the global pandemic.       

  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • Prerequisite: Level 3 or above.

Instructor: Omar Bachour

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

PHIL 303 - Ethics and Business - Fall

What is the relationship between ethics and business? Is the idea of “business ethics” an oxymoron? This course offers a comprehensive survey of the central and topical issues in business ethics: corporate social responsibility; corporate culture, governance, and ethical leadership; the meaning and value of work; moral rights in the workplace; employee responsibilities; marketing ethics (advertising, pricing, and product safety); sustainability and the natural environment; workplace diversity and discrimination; international business and globalization; and, lastly, challenges and emerging issues in the field, specifically the role of business ethics and ethical decision making in the current pandemic. Under each topic, we examine historical and contemporary case studies, as well as “mini-cases,” in order to test our ethical intuitions and theories against them. The emphasis is on encouraging thinking and reasoning about the relationship between ethics and business rather than promoting a set of conclusions. Drawing on economics, management, philosophy, and public policy, the multidisciplinary approach of the course will appeal to students from diverse disciplines.

  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • Prerequisite: Level 3 or above.
  • Exclusion(s): COMM 338/3.0

Instructor: David Bakhurst

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

What is the nature of mind and to what extent can it be disclosed by natural-scientific methods?  This course draws on the ideas of a variety of thinkers—such as Bruner, Hacking, McDowell, Midgley, Vygotsky, Wiggins, and Wittgenstein—to explore the nature of psychological explanation.  We will examine the social dimensions of the human mind, addressing questions of personhood, identity, rationality, freedom and self-knowledge. We shall also consider how these issues illuminate the psychology of learning, development and education.

  • Texts/Reading: Bakhurst, The Formation of Reason; Midgely, Beast and Man; plus various articles and supplementary text to be determined
  • Prerequisite: PHIL 250/6.0 or 12.0 units in PSYC or permission of the Department.
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • Prerequisite: Level 3 or above

Instructor: Elliot Paul

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

This course will be concerned with questions such as these: What is creativity? Is there a general structure to the creative process? In what sense, if any, does creativity involve freedom? Could a computer program be creative? What role, if any, does creativity play in living well, or in moral thought or action? Is there any truth to the popular idea that mental illness is linked to creative genius? Can creativity be measured? Can it be explained? Can it be learned? Can it be taught?

To address these questions, we will draw on a diverse array of sources from philosophy and cognitive science.

In this course, you will learn to:

  • compare alternative theories in order to assess their relative costs and benefits.
  • examine empirical findings from cognitive science to identify their potential philosophical implications.
  • narrate examples of your own creative experiences as case studies for proposed theories of creativity.
  • formulate and defend your own positions on debates concerning creativity in class discussions and written assignments.

 

  • Texts/Readings: 
    • Keith Sawyer, Explaining Creativity 2nd edn., Oxford University Press, 2012.
    • Elliot Samuel Paul & Scott Barry Kaufman, The Philosophy of Creativity: New Essays, Oxford University Press, 2014.
  • Assessment:
    • Brief writing exercises
    • 2 longer papers
    • participation
  • Prerequisite: Level 3 or above

Instructor: Deborah Knight

FALL - REMOTE (3.0)

The course examines key issues in the philosophy of art and philosophical aesthetics, such as: What is art? What are aesthetic concepts and how do we apply them? What counts as a viable theory of art? Can "art" be defined"?

Alongside these theoretical questions, we will consider a range of examples including works of "fine" art, popular art, and public art, as well as questions concerning the aesthetics of the everyday and of the natural environment. 

  • 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.
  • Prerequisite: Level 3 or above
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • Attendance Expected in Timetabled Slots: Yes

Instructor: TBA

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

A survey of the central issues in the philosophy of law including a consideration of current jurisprudential controversies about the nature of law and philosophical treatments of problems arising from within the law such as paternalism, privacy, responsibility, and civil liberties

  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • Prerequisite: Level 3 or above.

Instructor: Elliot Paul

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

This course will examine themes in Hellenistic epistemology with a special focus on the debate between the Stoics and the Skeptics. We will also examine the influence of Hellenistic epistemology on an important Roman rhetorician (Quintilian) and a famous early medieval philosopher (Augustine).

 

We’ll consider questions such as these: What arguments did the ancient Skeptics use to challenge ordinary claims of knowledge? How did the Stoics respond to these arguments in defense of knowledge? Which side wins the philosophical debate? Along the way, we’ll address a number of related topics such as the nature of perception, certainty and doubt, reasons for belief, the metaphor of “illumination”, wisdom and other epistemic ideals.

  • Texts/Readings:
    • The Hellenistic philosophers, Volume 1, eds. Long & Sedley, Cambridge University Press, 1987.
    • Cicero, On academic scepticism, Hackett , 2006.
  • Assessment:
    • Brief writing exercises
    • 2 longer papers
    • participation 
  • Prerequisite: (PHIL 250/6.0 or PHIL 257/6.0) or (6.0 units in PHIL and registration in a CLST Major or Medial Plan) or permission of the Department.

Instructor: Jon Miller

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

In this course, we will focus on Spinoza and Leibniz.  While their peers were also ambitious, Spinoza and Leibniz come across as breathtakingly bold.  They believed that they had divined the mysteries of the universe and ourselves. They presented their visions forthrightly and they advanced powerful arguments in support of their understanding of how things are. 

Though Spinoza and Leibniz were deep and original thinkers, they did not philosophize in a vacuum.  They owed much to other thinkers, both in their day and those from more distant past.  Before we get to Spinoza and Leibniz, we will devote some time considering the problems and ideas bequeathed by their predecessors to Spinoza and Leibniz.  In particular, we shall see how Descartes was instrumental in erecting the metaphysical and epistemological frameworks within which Spinoza and Leibniz operated.  In addition, it is important not to lose sight of how Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz and others in the seventeenth century were addressing questions of perennial interest.  We shall begin our course by posing such questions. 

Once we are finished with those matters, we shall advance to Spinoza and Leibniz.  We will spend five weeks on each philosopher.  In the case of Spinoza, we will read passages of his magnum opus, The Ethics.  Since Leibniz did not have a magnum opus, we will have to look at a variety of his writings. 

  • Texts/Readings: For Spinoza, all readings will be taken from his magnum opus, the *Ethics*. Because Leibniz did not write a single great work, we will draw on a variety of his writings. The texts are difficult and require careful study. To aid comprehension, readings will be carefully chosen and very precise. There will be a recommended textbook on order through the Campus Bookstore but students can use their own sources if they like.
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • Prerequisite: PHIL 250/6.0 or PHIL 257/6.0 or permission of the Department.

Instructor: Mark Smith

FALL - REMOTE (3.0)

Many women were active participants in philosophical and scientific thought in the early modern period (i.e. roughly the 17th and 18th centuries). Unfortunately, their contributions have been mostly occluded by the way in which the history of philosophy has been told, and the way in which “the canon” has taken shape. A fuller understanding of early modern philosophy demands that we attend to women’s contributions, and we will do so through an examination of Elisabeth of Bohemia, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Mary Astell, Damaris Masham, Émilie du Châtelet, and others.

  • Texts/Readings: Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period, ed. Margaret Atherton; other readings will be made available through the class website.
  • Learning Hours: Online asynchronous delivery
  • Prerequisite: PHIL 250/6.0 or PHIL 257/6.0 or permission of the Department.

Instructor: Kerah Gordon-Solmon

FALL - REMOTE (3.0)

This course will provide an upper-level introduction to contemporary discussions of distributive justice. The central text will be John Rawls' pioneering book, A Theory of Justice. We will also look at selections from the critical literature surrounding the book, as well as the luck-egalitarian theories of justice that developed in its wake. Here, readings will include pieces by Robert Nozick, Ronald Dworkin, and G.A. Cohen

  • Texts/Readings: John Rawls, A Theory of Justice; articles or book chapters by Elizabeth Anderson, G.A. Cohen, Ronald Dworkin, Harry Frankfurt, Robert Nozick, Susan Okin, and Derek Parfit.
  • Assessment: Participation in a weekly 60-min Zoom seminar session and subsequent online discussion forum, 40%; a group take-home midterm, 20%; 2 essays, 20% each; 1-2 micro-assignments, each worth a 2% bonus.  **This is breakdown in tentative; it is subject to change.**
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • Prerequisite: PHIL 257/6.0 or POLS 250/6.0 and 6.0 units in PHIL.

Instructor: Deborah Knight

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)      

In Meditations on First Philosophy, Descartes famously argues that the mind is not material. Philosophers in the last century couldn’t have disagreed more strongly. Anti-dualist philosophers of mind argue that minds just are our brain processes under another description. But if the mind is material, how can we possibly explain consciousness — our awareness of ourselves and our mental states, let alone our emotions and decisions-making processes and our sense of ourselves as unified and persisting over time?

The course begins with an overview of the main theories of the mind, raising questions such as:

  • How do we understand minds — our own and those of others?
  • What is the connection between mind and self?
  • How do we explain the qualitative or “felt-sense” of phenomenal experience?
  • What is consciousness?
  • What is the role of the emotions in the life of the mind?
  • If we are essentially rational agents, how can we explain situations where otherwise rational people can act against their better judgment?

The course concludes by considering two hypotheses: that minds are not uniquely located in individual persons, and that the self might simply be a narrative construct — the subject of the story we tell about ourselves.

  • 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.
  • Prerequisite: PHIL 250/6.0 or permission of the Department.
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • Attendance Expected in Timetabled Slots: Yes

Instructor: Mark Smith

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

The special focus of this term’s material will be on the metaphysics of the human person. Does the concept “person” pick out a natural kind having a distinctive essence? Or does it just pick out a specific sort of animal? Is there such a thing as the self, which accounts for enduring personal identity, or is the self an illusion? Is there such a phenomenon as free will, or is that perhaps an illusion also? These and other metaphysical questions that have specifically to do with human life and our self-conception will be broached, largely through contemporary work in metaphysics. Among others, we will read work by Christine Korsgaard, Galen Strawson, and Harry Frankfurt.

  • Texts/Readings: Available through the course site.
  • Assessment: 3 argument analyses; 1 midterm paper; 1 final paper
  • Learning Hours:  Blended learning model - 120 (36L;84P)
  • Prerequisite: PHIL 250/6.0 or permission of the Department

Instructor: Adele Mercier

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

The course will cover the full polyadic predicate calculus with identity and definite descriptions, otherwise known as Basic Logic for Philosophers. One focus will be on skill development in translation from (ambiguous, vague, contextual) English into (unambiguous, fully perspicuous, eternal) logical formalization, expanded to various quantifiers (universal, existential, definite) practicing the important logical and cognitive notion of scope. This skill enhances clarity, rigour, and complexity in thought. Another focus will be on skill development in various techniques of formal reasoning: syntactic derivation and semantic inference methods; model theory and invalidity proofs. This skill enhances understanding of validity and invalidity, and improves cognitive reasoning abilities through variety and reenforcement.

  • Requisite: Hard work and dedication. The course requires the use of a remarkable interactive computer program from UCLA available for free, which takes a bit of getting used to but is immensely beneficial. The course is exercise-based. It is not enough to be passively competent with the Language of Logic for it to enhance one’s reasoning abilities. One must be actively fluent in it. The numerous exercises teach and practice every facet and subtlety of English syntax, and the mistakes of reasoning to which humans are prone.
  • Requirements: Bi-weekly tests, and a final exam.
  • Prerequisites: Full propositional logic, including facility with translations of English and boolean operators (conjunctions, disjunctions, conditionals) and with formal manipulation of rules of inference. High marks and motivation in PHIL 260, or permission of instructor. (PHIL 260/3.0) or ELEC 270/3.0.
  • NOTE:  Availability in timetabled slots is expected for this course.

Instructor: Joseph Breidenstein

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

In this course, we will examine three works of contemporary Jewish philosophy. First, we will explore the themes of dialogue and revelation in Martin Buber’s I and Thou, paying close attention to Buber’s account of humanity’s capacity to enter into dialogue with both nature and god so as to develop a phenomenology of religious experience. Second, we will turn towards Hannah Arendt’s controversial account of evil in Eichmann in Jerusalem so as to appreciate what can happen when people sever their dialogical connection with each other, nature, and god. Finally, we will examine Dialectic of Enlightenment in which Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer describe both the destructive nature of secular rationalism and how the domineering tendency of western modernity arises from a fear of the mystical unknown. Although there will be weekly synchronous sessions, this course will primarily be asynchronous so that students can learn at their own pace and at the times which are most convenient for them.

  • Texts/Readings:
    • Martin Buber's I and Thou
    • Hannah Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil
    • Max Horkheimer and Theodor W. Adorno's Dialectic of Enlightenment
  • Assessment: Students will have the option of either dividing their total grade between two 2,500-3,000 word essays or basing it on one 5,000-6,000 final essay.
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • Prerequisite: (6.0 units in PHIL or JWST) or permission of the Department

Instructor: Paul Fairfield 

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

This lecture course provides an analysis of a few texts in continental European philosophy between 1960 and today. We shall study one book each by Hans-Georg Gadamer, Michel Foucault, and Jeff Mitscherling and Paul Fairfield. Major topics will include phenomenology, hermeneutics, poststructuralism, aesthetics and artistic creation, among others. The format will be lecture with discussion.

  • Texts/Readings: 
    • Hans-Georg Gadamer, Reason in the Age of Science
    • Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality volume 1: An Introduction
    • Jeff Mitscherling and Paul Fairfield, Artistic Creation: A Phenomenological Account
  • 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 6000-7000 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 3 or above

Instructor: Jacqueline Davies

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

Feminism is a political movement organized in resistance to women’s oppression. Its rationale and implications are theorized as a function of the shared experiences of women in the movement, especially those who voices have been privileged. Historically and politically specific conditions shape how the category “woman” is constructed as a privileged category of theory and practice. They also affect how diverse modes of women’s oppression are conceived, for example, in relation to such forces as “classical” patriarchy, bourgeois capitalism, white supremacy and colonialism, as well as cis- and hetero-normativity. Feminist thought has also been developed with and against the work of canonical non-feminist philosophers from Plato to Freud and Foucault, as well as non-feminist liberation theorists and movement leaders from Marx to Malcolm and Mbembe.  Our study of feminist theory will attend to these diverse influences.  Alongside selections from influential 20th century feminist theorists (e.g. Simone de Beauvoir, Catharine MacKinnon, Mary Daly, Carol Gilligan, Carole Pateman, and Judith Butler) we will read analyses of oppression, resistance and resurgence shaped by specific attention on women’s experiences at the intersections of gender, Indigeneity, colonialism, transphobia, and white supremacism (e.g. Nkiru Nzegwu, Renée Jacobs, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Sandy Stone, Patricia J. Williams, Audre Lorde, and Viviane Namaste).

Students may extend their understanding of feminist philosophy by sharing the results of independent solo or collaborative research projects on specific feminist thinkers (e.g. Mary Wollstonecraft, Anna Julia Cooper, Sara Ahmed, Talia Mae Bettcher, etc.) or such sub-streams of feminist philosophy as feminist epistemology and ontology, feminist history of philosophy, relational autonomy etc.

Skills in reading theory are emphasized, as is the capacity to think critically about philosophical assumptions and their political as well as philosophical implications. Students are supported in further developing their capacity for clear oral and written analysis, exposition, and argument.

  • Texts/Readings:
    • A selection of articles and book chapters will be available as a print or digital course pack (Frye, de Beauvoir, Nzegwu, Jacobs, Simpson, MacKinnon, Pateman, Williams, Daly, Lorde, Stone, Gilligan, Lugones & Spelman, Butler, Namaste).
  • Assessment: 
    • Classroom participation & collaborative reading assignments, 15%
    • Midterm short expository essay (approx. 1500 words), 20%
    • Short critical perspectives assignment (approx. 1000 words),15%
    • Final essay (approx. 2000 words), 50%
      • (Worth 30% if optional extra credit assignment also submitted)
    • Optional extra credit assignment:
      • Oral presentation, or digital-poster with results of student-driven inquiry-based research on a selected theme in feminist philosophy (worth 20%)
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L; 84P)
  • Prerequisite: (6.0 units in PHIL or GNDS at the 200-level or above) or permission of the Department)

Instructor: Josh Mozersky

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

The development of contemporary physics has greatly altered our understanding of the universe we inhabit.  In so doing, it has a direct impact on many long-standing philosophical issues, such as: the relationship between the observer and the observed; the nature of space, time, and matter; the nature of properties; the possibility of gaining knowledge of the mind-independent world; the nature of abstract objects; etc.  This course is a detailed, cross-disciplinary examination the implications of physics for such venerable philosophical concerns.  Questions to be addressed include: Is time real?  Is the passage of time an illusion?  What is the nature of infinity?  Is the structure of space-time objective or merely a convention?  Does physics reveal a mind-independent reality or do observers in some way construct reality?  Is it possible to provide a complete description of reality?

While a willingness to engage with some (very elementary) formal techniques is important for this course, it does not presuppose any background in math or science.  Science and math students are, however, warmly invited.

  • Texts/Readings:
    • Nick Huggett, Space from Zeno to Einstein (Campus Bookstore)
    • Peter Lewis, Quantum Ontology: A Guide to the Metaphysics of Quantum Mechanics (Campus Bookstore)
    • Some additional readings (onQ)
  • Assessment: Two term tests; final exam
  • Prerequisite: Level 3 or above
  • Learning Hours: 120 (36L;84P)
  • Attendance Expected in Timetabled Slots: Yes

Instructor: Nancy Salay

WINTER - CANCELLED (3.0)

In these early years of the 21st-Century, consciousness has become the final frontier for science, but not so long ago 'mind talk' was strictly taboo in the sciences and the subject was thought to be anathema to academic study. Times have changed: 60 years of advances in brain recording technology, increased cooperation between cognitive scientists of different sub-disciplines, and easier access to the resulting work has led to a field of consciousness studies.

That said, consciousness is still a very hard problem, the hard problem, perhaps, and we deepen our understanding of it by integrating our new findings with insights we have already gained. In this course we will do just that by exploring, through theory and practise, some of the most important philosophies of consciousness and their connections to recent scientific consciousness research. Some of the perspectives we will be looking more closely at are Buddhism, Phenomenology, and Embodied Cognitive Science.

  • Learning Hours: 144 (24L;12Lb;84P)
  • Prerequisite: Level 3 or above

Instructor: Kerah Gordon-Solmon 

FALL/WINTER - REMOTE (6.0)

This is a full year, 6.0-credit ‘skills’ course, for 3rd and 4th year Philosophy majors.  The fall term will provide intensive training in reading, discussing, and especially, writing philosophy. In the winter term, students will share their writing skills, honed in the fall term, with 1st-year students, by serving as writing tutors for PHIL 111.
Each year, the fall-term syllabus will be constructed around one (or more) of the department's core areas: metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, political philosophy, or history. The particular area will vary from year to year.  This year, the area is ethics; the theme is duties, constraints, prerogatives, and permissions.

Fall Topic: Here are some innocuous claims.  Some states of affairs are better than others, in virtue of being better for persons than others.  (For example, states of affairs in which we suffer less are better, other things equal, than those in which we suffer more.)  We have presumptive moral reason to help bring about better states of affairs, which will sometimes be decisive.  But we also have prerogatives to favour our own interests, sometimes at the expense of what is impartially best. Third, and lastly, we are subject to moral constraints, which limit what we can do in pursuit of our own, or others’, good. Again, none these claims is terribly controversial.  Nevertheless, taken together, they give rise to various puzzles, and even paradoxes.  Our task will be to work through some of these (in particular, their treatments in the contemporary literature), and toward a better understanding of duties, constraints, prerogatives, and permissions.

  • Texts/Readings: All readings will be available on OnQ.
  • Assessment/Fall term: Written argument reconstructions (2 total); argument reconstruction rewrites, supplemented with critiques (2 total); final essay; optional final essay rewrite; participation (in a weekly Zoom seminar session; possibly also in online discussion forums); presentation
  • Assessment/Winter Term: Practicum performance. Note that we will not meet weekly during the winter term; practicum hours and occasional class meetings will be scheduled around students’ other academic commitments.
  • Learning Hours: 228 (36S;42Pc;144P)
  • Prerequisite: Registration in a Philosophy Major Plan and (A GPA of 3.0 in each of PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0). Must have permission from instructor.

Note: Admission to this course is by application. To apply, please (1) e-mail Professor Gordon-Solmon (kg59@queensu.ca) explaining your interest in the course, (2) arrange for an e-mailed letter of recommendation to be Professor Gordon-Solmon from one of your previous philosophy professors, and (3) instruct the Philosophy department (at philug@queensu.ca) to share your transcript with Professor Gordon-Solmon.  Qualified students will be selected for enrolment based on a combination of criteria, including the strength of their application letter and reference letter, and overall academic record to date.  Priority will be given to students who submit their application letters by August 15, 2021; after August 15, applications will be considered on a rolling basis until the class is full. 

Instructor: Christine Sypnowich

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

This is an exciting new course open that provides an opportunity to upper-level Philosophy concentrators (third and fourth year) for a volunteer placement in the community.  Students consider how philosophy can bear upon, and be informed by, the work of a particular community organization, affording a unique learning experience that can also contribute to career development.  The course involves placement hours, occasional class meetings, regular reports and a final research essay that analyses both philosophical literature and the placement experience. 

  • Learning Hours: 120(9S;27Pc;84P)
  • Prerequisite: Level 3 or above. Students must complete an application and have permission from instructor.

 

  • Application form should have deadline of September 20
  • Please retain the blurb at the top of the linked page, which warns the pandemic might mean remote format for some activities, but delete this paragraph on the main page:

More information about the course, community placements, and how to apply can be found at this link.