400 Level Courses

2021-22

Instructors: Christine Sypnowich, Ian Keay, TBA

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

The questions that are the focus of Politics, Philosophy and Economics share fundamental similarities, including their social nature, the analytical and critical thinking required to address them, and their complexity and multi-dimensionality.  The tools and perspectives may be different in each discipline, but the questions asked are remarkably similar.  The analytical and quantitative rigor of economics, the emphasis on social decision making in politics, and the philosophical underpinnings of both economic and political perspectives are intellectually complementary.  This course is intended to encourage students to identify these complementarities, while providing them with an opportunity to probe, investigate and resolve their own research questions with the disciplinary tools they have acquired in the PPEC plan.

In PPEC 400 students from all three subjects of specialization work collaboratively with their peers, closely supervised by faculty from within and outside their sub-plans, to formulate research questions and complete individual research-intensive projects. The course is explicitly structured on a multi-disiciplinary inquiry-based model, promoting peer-to-peer learning, in-depth research skills, and interactive presentation skills.

To open the course, instructors from Politics, Philosophy and Economics will review discipline-specific research tools and perspectives, focusing on a common theme. Students will then break into smaller working groups in which topic ideas will be refined and research challenges overcome in a collaborative setting. To conclude the course, students have the opportunity to present their research projects and receive feedback from their peers and the course instructors.

  • Texts/Readings: 
    • There is no assigned text book for this course. Course readings can be accessed through the course OnQ page, or they can be downloaded from a Queen’s IP address from online journal archives available through the library’s home page.
    • Perspectives on Research: Politics
    • Perspectives on Research: Philosophy
    • Perspectives on Research: Economics
  • Assessment:
    • Participation will be worth 20% of the final grade.
    • The project presentation will be worth 20% of the final grade.
    • The final research report will be worth 60% of the final grade.
  • Prerequisite:
    • Level 4 and registration in the PPEC Specialization Plan and a minimum Plan GPA of 2.60 and permission of the Department.

Instructor: Aaron Wendland

WINTER - REMOTE (3.0)

An examination of major issues in contemporary social and political philosophy. Possible topics to be studied include communitarianism, liberalism, multi-culturalism, the nation-state, and utopias.

Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

More detailed course description coming soon!

Instructor: Will Kymlicka

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

Topic: Interspecies Politics

There is growing recognition of animals’ moral status both within moral philosophy and at the level of public opinion. However, the growing recognition of animals’ moral status has not translated into any real change in their political status. Animals are not represented in politics, are not seen as political actors or as political stakeholders, and are essentially ignored when political decisions are made. They also remain almost entirely invisible within political philosophy. Whenever political philosophers discuss the core concepts of our field - democracy, representation, deliberation, legitimacy, accountability, citizenship, the people, the public sphere, claims-making, the demos, popular sovereignty, and self-government – animals are ignored. This course will explore why it has proven so difficult to translate moral status to political status, and what this tells us about the nature and purpose of “politics”. We will also explore recent efforts to theorize what an “interspecies politics” would look like, and to reimagine our relations with animals as political relationships.

  • Texts/Readings: Available through library e-reserve
  • Assessment: Seminar presentation; comment sheets; and term paper
  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

Instructor: Meena Krishnamurthy

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

An examination of major issues in contemporary social and political philosophy. Possible topics to be studied include communitarianism, liberalism, multi-culturalism, the nation-state, and utopias.

  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

More detailed course description coming soon!

Unfortunately, ongoing public health concerns and the uncertainty of the pandemic have necessitated the cancellation of this course for the winter semester.

 

Note this is a course offering for Winter 2022 that involves an application process with a deadline of 30 April 2021, at 5pm. If interested, read the following information regarding the Walls to Bridges (W2B) seminar course and complete the application form. Enrollment is restricted; interested students should contact Dr. Myers (nicole.myers@queensu.ca) as soon as possible. See Walls to Bridges for more information about the W2B program.

Instructor: Nicole Myers 

This is an experiential learning course based on the Walls to Bridges program model, which brings together students from Queen’s University (‘outside students’) with students from a local federal prison (‘inside students’) to learn and share knowledge based on their lived experience and critical analysis of academic scholarship.  Students will explore the complexities of criminalization and punishment through lived experiences and intersectional analyses. This is a transformational educational experience which draws upon lived experience as a source of theorizing as well as challenges the artificial boundaries between people experiencing imprisonment and those who are not.

This course explores the subject of “Othering” and the divisive mentalities that pit groups in opposition to one another (us versus them). Students will learn through in-class activities, readings, group discussions, journaling and other writing assignments, and individual and group assignments based on academic and non-academic (popular culture) literature and materials. There will be a particular focus on the deconstruction of the 'other' in relation to race, gender, class and poverty in the criminal justice system and the community. Students will be encouraged to examine local, national and international cases/topics and to discuss the othering process as it occurs in these cases. Students will be asked to consider how we (individually and collectively) actively engage in othering, how it works, as well as what we are trying to protect/defend by othering. Discussion of how we can resist othering will also be encouraged. It is only through open and honest discussion that we can start to unpack the othering process and how we mobilize our privilege (consciously or not) to cast certain groups as different, dangerous or other.

The course uses a learning circle format.  An agenda will be prepared to guide the class discussion; however, the class is expected to lead the discussion reflecting and incorporating the course readings and lived experiences. Group work, active participation and open listening are essential components of the course.

  • Prerequisite: The prerequisites for Philosophy students are: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and ( a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-levelPHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)]. Interested students (both inside and outside) will need to submit an expression of interest followed by an interview with the course instructor. Students register for the course with instructor permission.
  • Exclusions: SOCY 406/3.0

Instructor: Ram Murty

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

Topic: How the mind works, according to Indian Philosophy

The six systems of Indian philosophy offer a framework through which the mind and its functions can be studied.  We will focus on three of these systems: Samkhya, Yoga and Vedanta as well as aspects of Tantra and study the writings of Vivekananda and Eliade that pertain to these themes expanding on the Yoga philosophy in its widest sense.

  • Texts/Readings:
    • The Yogas and other Works, by Vivekananda, Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Center, 1996, New York.
    • Indian Philosophy, An introduction, by M. Ram Murty, Broadview Press, 2012.
    • Yoga, Immortality and Freedom, by Mircea Eliade, Princeton University Press, 1990.
    • Sourcebook of Indian Philosophy, by S. Radhakrishnan and C.A. Moore, Princeton University Press, 1957.
  • Assessment: Grading will be based on two essays and class participation.
  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

Instructor: Dolleen Manning

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

An examination of major issues in the philosophy of culture. Possible topics to be studied include: the history of the philosophy of culture; the relationship between culture and identity or the self; the relationship between culture and progress; and various forms of cultural relativism.

  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

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
  • Deadline for applications is September 18

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

Instructor: Jon Miller

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

Spinoza

This course will offer an advanced introduction to Spinoza’s Ethics.  The focus will be on metaphysics and epistemology.  As time allows, we will proceed to consider Spinoza’s actual moral philosophy.

Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

Instructor: Elliot Paul

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

Descartes

This course will examine Descartes’s philosophy in two broad domains. The first domain is his epistemology, which is centered on clear and distinct perception. We will examine Descartes’s answers to questions like these: What are perceptions? Do we have intellectual perceptions in addition to sensory ones? What does it mean for a perception to be clear and distinct? When a perception is clear and distinct, Descartes thinks it is thereby indubitable, infallible, and provides certain knowledge. What does he mean by these claims, and to what extent is he correct?

 

The second domain we’ll study is Descartes’s conception of the human being. This will involve metaphysical issues about the nature of the human being with a special focus on our condition as embodied beings. We will also delve into questions in ethics and moral psychology, especially concerning the nature of our passions or emotions and the role they play in living a virtuous life.

In addition to Descartes’s most celebrated work, the Meditations on First Philosophy, we will also read selections from his Rules for the Direction of the Mind, the Discourse on the Method, the Principles of Philosophy, the Passions of the Soul, and Descartes’s correspondence.

Assessment:

  • Short reading responses
  • 2 longer papers
  • Participation

Prerequisites:

Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

 

Instructor: Josh Mozersky

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

Structure and the Observer

For 2000 years, Aristotle’s views dominated philosophical and scientific thinking in the West.  A central feature of the Aristotelian picture is that nature behaves according to teleological principles: material objects have purposes and act on the basis of sympathies.  On such an account, there is no particular difficulty in finding a place for human beings in the natural order, since our rational capacities for speech and thought can be assumed to arise straightforwardly from the reason-like principles that govern ordinary matter in space and time.  Hence, there is continuity between natural and human explanation.

The scientific revolution of the 17th Century changed all of this.  Instead of teleological explanations of motion, early modern scientists and philosophers offered a mechanical conception of change, according to which material bodies follow mathematically strict laws that make no reference to goals or purposes.  As a result of this overturning of the Aristotelian view, the existence of uniquely human characteristics, such as linguistic creativity and the recognition of norms, came to seem quite mysterious – how can a mechanical world of causes be combined with the normative realm of reasons?  In short, what room can we find for human nature in the natural world? 

This conflict leads to two profound philosophical questions.  First, what is the relationship between the structure of the world and our human perspective on it?  Given that human investigation into reality is guided by adherence to normative concepts such as relevance, evidence, logic, and reasonableness, it is unclear how such a system can track the properties of a reality that is causal-mechanical and, therefore, devoid of normative structure (there is no sense in which material change is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’). 

This leads to a second, more general, question: can we explain human reasoning in terms that are consistent with our theories of space, time, and matter?  Assuming we are physical beings, it would seem that this is a necessity, but it is unclear whether the two worldviews can be reconciled given the differences in their underlying logic.  If they cannot, does this entail that we are not part of the natural world?  Is it even possible to construct a picture of reality that includes ourselves and our perspective on that reality?

This course will be a detailed examination of these two questions taking into account philosophical, scientific, mathematical, and linguistic aspects of the problems.  No scientific background is presupposed but a willingness to engage with scientific and formal material is necessary.

  • Assessment: Class participation and an essay
  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].
  • Attendance Expected in Timetabled Slots: Yes

Instructor: Henry Laycock

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

Issues in contemporary analytical metaphysics, ontology and logic

Does metaphysics have a place within its schemes of categories for material stuff or matter -- a place for substances like iron, salt and water? One would certainly expect so; but in fact, the short answer appears to be NO. It seems that there has long been no place in metaphysics for this category, so a place needs to be made for it. The main door into the discipline allows in objects, individuals or things alone.

Among the topics for consideration are the dichotomy of universal and particular, the nature of attributes and natural kinds, the dichotomy of countable objects and uncountable material stuff. These topics are intimately related to logico-semantical distinctions such as that of 'singular term' and 'general term'; and equally, that of names, variables and predicates. Certain works of contemporary authors, including especially W. V. O. Quine, will be examined, but the ideas here involved go back to the ancient world of Plato, Aristotle and the Presocratics. Other topics for consideration include:

  • Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions on Israel
    • HP companies provide Israel with technology to maintain its apartheid rule over Palestinians and support Israel’s army and police, and the population database that Israel uses to enforce racial segregation.

Assessment: Class participation and an essay

Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

Attendance Expected in Timetabled Slots: Yes

Instructor: Adele Mercier

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

Topic: Philosophy of Language and Thought

To accommodate the confines of COVID and to better the student experience in the circumstances of remote learning, this year’s Philosophy of Language will go Formal. Using a series of user-friendly chapters produced by the instructor, the course will investigate what a language is as a formal structure, and what kinds of ontological and syntactic categories and formal devices are required for its logical, linguistic, and contextual understanding. In so doing, the course covers the formal notions of functions and relations, arguments, individuals and variables, generalized quantifiers and scope, set theory, grammar theory, hierarchies of infinity (Cantor), incompleteness (Gödel), undecidability, Montague grammar, and intensional semantics.

  • Requirements: Bi-weekly chapter exercises, midterm test, final exam. Graduates: research project TBD.
  • Prerequisite: 361 & 362 (may be taken concurrently), or permission of instructor. Preferably some exposure too LINGuistics. Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level) or (registration in a LING Major Plan)].
  • Note: Availability in timetabled slots is expected for this course.

 

Instructor: Deborah Knight

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

This course takes its inspiration from recent work in environmental aesthetics and the aesthetics of the everyday.

We begin by looking back at the emergence of philosophical aesthetics in the 18th and 19th centuries, focusing on questions of taste and judgement as they apply to works of art but also to the natural environment. The main part of our course will concentrate on the aesthetics of the natural environment, the aesthetics of human environments, and the aesthetics of everyday life.

Along the way we will consider a range of examples including: the influence of 18th and 19th century landscape painting and landscape gardening on the aesthetics of the natural environment; the question of ruins, memorials, and works of public art in the human environment; environmental art; as well as the smaller-scale environments and the common objects and activities associated with our mundane, everyday lives.

A key theme running throughout the course concerns the nature of aesthetic experience and how and when aesthetic experience might take on normative implications, as for example when ecologically-informed environmental aesthetics overlaps with environmentalism and when an ethically-informed aesthetics of the human environment raises questions about, for example, the value and preservation of ruins and abandoned human-created structures.

  • Texts/Readings: Course readings will be available through Queen’s Library’s E-reserves and linked to our OnQ site.
  • Assessment: Assessment will be based on assignments such as weekly comment sheets, a seminar presentation, and a final essay.
  • Prerequisites: PREREQUISITE Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

Instructor: Paul Fairfield

FALL - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

This year’s hermeneutics seminar will look at three recent books focusing on a range of themes in post-Gadamerian hermeneutics, including hermeneutical philosophies of social science, the concept of place, and the concept of the productive imagination.

 

Participants will write one paper on a topic of their choice. The length of the papers will be approximately 20 pages or 6000 words for graduate students and approximately 15 pages or 4500 words for undergraduates. Students will also offer two seminar presentations on the readings for a given week. All students, graduate and undergraduate, are invited to participate actively in class discussion. This is not a lecture course. There is no final examination.

 

  • Texts/Readings:
    • Babette Babich, ed. Hermeneutic Philosophies of Social Science

       

    • Jeff Malpas, Place and Experience: A Philosophical Topography

       

    • Saulius Geniusas and Dmitri Nikulin, eds., Productive Imagination: Its History, Meaning, and Significance

       

  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

Instructor: Catherine Stinson

WINTER - 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.

Third Wave Artificial Intelligence

This course explores recent advances and methods in Artificial Intelligence (AI) from the perspective of value-informed philosophy of science. We will consider not just epistemic and metaphysical questions about recent AI, but also the social context in which the science is being done, and the moral implications.

Three major themes will be explored:

  1. Surveillance: Is loss of privacy an inevitable consequence of convenience? Who benefits from biometric surveillance, and who is harmed? What are the prospects for the scientific project of making perfect predictions through statistical correlations on big data?
  2. Tech Culture: How are the ethics of tech products connected to workplace equity and Silicon Valley culture? Should tech workers bear moral responsibility for how their work is used? Can algorithms be racist, and how do they get that way?
  3. Interrogating Intelligence: Does improvement on benchmark AI tasks raise existential risks? Whose intelligence is included in and excluded from the aims of AI? Why is nouveau eugenics so popular in AI, and does it “work”?

Texts/Readings:

We will be reading chapters from:

  • Alison Adam, Artificial Knowing: Gender and the Thinking Machine
  • Toby Beauchamp, Going Stealth: Transgender Politics and US Surveillance Practices
  • Simone Browne, Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness
  • Kate Crawford, Atlas of AI
  • Heather Douglas, Science, Policy, and the Value-Free Ideal plus readings available online, and a schedule of science fiction film pairings.

Assessment: 

10%                 Contributions to class discussion OR Presentation
60%                 3 x Academic paper OR Research project
10%                 Popular essay draft
10%                 Peer review
10%                 Popular essay

Readings and assessments are subject to change.

Assessment: Details TBA. Will include participation, mixed-media assignments, and a research project.

  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

Instructor: Mick Smith

WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

This course will engage with a number of key environmental issues such as biodiversity and extinction, preservation or conservation, environmental and social justice, eco-feminism, deep ecology, bioregionalism and ecological restoration drawing on various philosophical traditions in ethics, hermeneutics, political philosophy, ontology, and phenomenology. The aim is to provide both an overview of the variety of topics that can be encompassed within environmental philosophy and to encourage participants to develop critical and innovative approaches to questions of direct practical import. While the focus will generally be on our ethical relations to non-human entities and our understanding and interpretation of these relations we will be particularly concerned to examine the ways in which our ethical evaluations might be informed by, and inform, our understandings of particular places/environments.

  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

2020-21

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

Instructors: Ian Keay, Andrew Lister, Christine Sypnowich

WINTER (3.0)

The questions that are the focus of Politics, Philosophy and Economics share fundamental similarities, including their social nature, the analytical and critical thinking required to address them, and their complexity and multi-dimensionality.  The tools and perspectives may be different in each discipline, but the questions asked are remarkably similar.  The analytical and quantitative rigor of economics, the emphasis on social decision making in politics, and the philosophical underpinnings of both economic and political perspectives are intellectually complementary.  This course is intended to encourage students to identify these complementarities, while providing them with an opportunity to probe, investigate and resolve their own research questions with the disciplinary tools they have acquired in the PPEC plan.
In PPEC 400 students from all three subjects of specialization work collaboratively with their peers, closely supervised by faculty from within and outside their sub-plans, to formulate research questions and complete individual research-intensive projects. The course is explicitly structured on a multi-disiciplinary inquiry-based model, promoting peer-to-peer learning, in-depth research skills, and interactive presentation skills.

To open the course, instructors from Politics, Philosophy and Economics will review discipline-specific research tools and perspectives, focusing on a common theme. Students will then break into smaller working groups in which topic ideas will be refined and research challenges overcome in a collaborative setting. To conclude the course, students have the opportunity to present their research projects and receive feedback from their peers and the course instructors.

Texts/Readings: There is no assigned text book for this course. Course readings can be accessed through the course OnQ page, or they can be downloaded from a Queen’s IP address from online journal archives available through the library’s home page.

  • Perspectives on Research: Politics
  • Perspectives on Research: Philosophy
  • Perspectives on Research: Economics

Assessment:

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

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

Instructor: Meena Krishnamurthy

Topic: Martin Luther King, Jr. Now

FALL (3.0)

The classes will be synchronous.

With the resurgence of racism across the globe there is renewed interested in the political philosophy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This course is an attempt to rediscover King’s ideas by shedding light on three of the most important and misunderstood elements of King’s mature thought: his analysis of racism and its causes; his political theory of direct action and civil disobedience; and his understanding of the place of ethical virtues in activism and social life. In interpreting King’s political philosophy, we will consider the work of leading critics and interpreters. We will also consider the relevance of King’s philosophy for Canadians by considering it in relation to Canadian anti-racist struggles.

  • Texts/Readings: Among other things, selections from Martin Luther King Jr.’s, Why We Can’t Wait; Strength to Love; and Where Do We Go From Here. Brandon Terry and Tommie Shelby’s, To Shape a New World. Selections from Meena Krishnamurthy’s Emotions of Nonviolent Resistance.
  • Assessment: Weekly discussion questions, at least one class presentation/video; 2 papers or 1 longer paper
  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

Instructor: Will Kymlicka

Topic: Interspecies Politics

WINTER (3.0)

There is growing recognition of animals’ moral status both within moral philosophy and at the level of public opinion. However, the growing recognition of animals’ moral status has not translated into any real change in their political status. Animals are not represented in politics, are not seen as political actors or as political stakeholders, and are essentially ignored when political decisions are made. They also remain almost entirely invisible within political philosophy. Whenever political philosophers discuss the core concepts of our field - democracy, representation, deliberation, legitimacy, accountability, citizenship, the people, the public sphere, claims-making, the demos, popular sovereignty, and self-government – animals are ignored. This course will explore why it has proven so difficult to translate moral status to political status, and what this tells us about the nature and purpose of “politics”. We will also explore recent efforts to theorize what an “interspecies politics” would look like, and to reimagine our relations with animals as political relationships.

  • Texts/Readings: All readings will be electronically accessible
  • Assessment: Seminar presentation; comment sheets; and term paper
  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

Instructor: Aaron J. Wendland

Topic: Public Philosophy

WINTER (3.0)

Public philosophy runs on a spectrum from the popularization of philosophical ideas to the application of those ideas to daily life. This suggests public philosophy presupposes the esoteric work done by philosophers within the academy, but in a way that is consistent with the practice of Socrates, public engagement is simultaneously an inspiration for much academic research. In short, there is a dialectical relation between academic and public philosophy insofar as analyzing the world around us through the lens of our academic work often raises new questions and motivates new academic research.  This course aims to teach senior undergraduate and graduate students how to translate the technical terminology of academic philosophy into publicly accessible prose and show them how suitably clarified philosophical ideas can be used to interpret current affairs and respond to the social and political problems we confront. The course is also designed to prepare students to work alongside editors, producers, journalists, and other media professionals as well as illustrate how the business of popular philosophy operates. Lastly, and with a little luck, this course will stimulate student interest in academic philosophy and equally indicate the way they can use philosophy to enhance the well-being of their local communities.

To achieve these aims, this class will involve a mix of academic and practical work. Six seminars will be dedicated to the analysis and discussion of philosophical texts that have a bearing on current affairs, and six seminars will be used to help students design and produce pieces of popular philosophical writing. The course will be run in conjunction with a regular philosophy column in a local paper or magazine, and each student will have the chance to commission, edit, write, and publish a piece of popular philosophy.

  • Assessment: Students will be assessed on the basis of their short essays, class participation, and editorial work on the popular philosophy column run out of a local paper or magazine.
  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

Instructor: Nicole Myers 

This is an experiential learning course based on the Walls to Bridges program model, which brings together students from Queen’s University (‘outside students’) with students from a local federal prison (‘inside students’) to learn and share knowledge based on their lived experience and critical analysis of academic scholarship.  Students will explore the complexities of criminalization and punishment through lived experiences and intersectional analyses. This is a transformational educational experience which draws upon lived experience as a source of theorizing as well as challenges the artificial boundaries between people experiencing imprisonment and those who are not.

This course explores the subject of “Othering” and the divisive mentalities that pit groups in opposition to one another (us versus them). Students will learn through in-class activities, readings, group discussions, journaling and other writing assignments, and individual and group assignments based on academic and non-academic (popular culture) literature and materials. There will be a particular focus on the deconstruction of the 'other' in relation to race, gender, class and poverty in the criminal justice system and the community. Students will be encouraged to examine local, national and international cases/topics and to discuss the othering process as it occurs in these cases. Students will be asked to consider how we (individually and collectively) actively engage in othering, how it works, as well as what we are trying to protect/defend by othering. Discussion of how we can resist othering will also be encouraged. It is only through open and honest discussion that we can start to unpack the othering process and how we mobilize our privilege (consciously or not) to cast certain groups as different, dangerous or other.

The course uses a learning circle format.  An agenda will be prepared to guide the class discussion; however, the class is expected to lead the discussion reflecting and incorporating the course readings and lived experiences. Group work, active participation and open listening are essential components of the course.

If interested, read the following information regarding the Walls to Bridges (W2B) seminar course and complete the application form.  Enrollment is restricted; interested students should contact Dr. Myers (nicole.myers@queensu.ca) as soon as possible. The deadline for applications is April 30. See Walls to Bridges for more information about the W2B program.

Instructor: Dolleen Manning

WINTER (3.0)

An examination of major issues in the philosophy of culture. Possible topics to be studied include: the history of the philosophy of culture; the relationship between culture and identity or the self; the relationship between culture and progress; and various forms of cultural relativism.

  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

Instructor: Udo Schuklenk

WINTER (3.0)

An examination of major issues in ethics. Possible topics to be considered include political violence, coercion, punishment, immigration, suicide, drug policy, leisure and akrasia.

  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

Instructor: Daryn Lehoux

Topic: Hellenistic and Roman Philosophy

FALL (3.0)

This course will examine a range of Hellenistic and Roman philosophical texts, including Lucretius' On the Nature of Things and Cicero's On the Nature of the Gods. Particular focus will be on the overlaps between epistemology, physics, and ethics in these texts.

  • Assessment: Assessment format will depend on total class size. It will likely include three essays or two essays and a presentation.
  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300‐level PHIL) and  [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units  of PHIL at the 300‐level)]. 
  • Note: This course will be available through OnQ. Class discussions will take place during scheduled times according to the timetable, therefore student availability during timetabled slots is important. Students should expect to spend approximately 10 hours a week on classes, readings, assignments and other activities.

Instructor: Christine Sypnowich

WINTER (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. 

This year the course will be designed for remote delivery, with differently scheduled online meetings and/or recorded sessions to ensure access for all students.  Placements are likely to be remote, though it is possible that some placements will be in person, with students expected to follow necessary health and safety protocols. 

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

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

Instructor: Jon Miller

Topic: Spinoza

FALL (3.0)

This course will offer an advanced introduction to Spinoza’s Ethics.  The focus will be on metaphysics and epistemology.  As time allows, we will proceed to consider Spinoza’s actual moral philosophy. 

Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

Instructor: Henry Laycock

Topic: Issues in contemporary analytical metaphysics, ontology and logic

WINTER (3.0)

Does metaphysics have a place within its schemes of categories for material stuff or matter -- a place for substances like iron, salt and water? One would certainly expect so; but in fact, the short answer appears to be NO. It seems that there has long been no place in metaphysics for this category, so a place needs to be made for it. The main door into the discipline allows in objects, individuals or things alone.

Among the topics for consideration are the dichotomy of universal and particular, the nature of attributes and natural kinds, the dichotomy of countable objects and uncountable material stuff. These topics are intimately related to logico-semantical distinctions such as that of 'singular term' and 'general term'; and equally, that of names, variables and predicates. Certain works of contemporary authors, including especially W. V. O. Quine, will be examined, but the ideas here involved go back to the ancient world of Plato, Aristotle and the Presocratics.

  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].

Instructor: Adele Mercier

Topic: Philosophy of Language and Thought

FALL (3.0)

To accommodate the confines of COVID and to better the student experience in the circumstances of remote learning, this year’s Philosophy of Language will go Formal. Using a series of user-friendly chapters produced by the instructor, the course will investigate what a language is as a formal structure, and what kinds of ontological and syntactic categories and formal devices are required for its logical, linguistic, and contextual understanding. In so doing, the course covers the formal notions of functions and relations, arguments, individuals and variables, generalized quantifiers and scope, set theory, grammar theory, hierarchies of infinity (Cantor), incompleteness (Gödel), undecidability, Montague grammar, and intensional semantics.

  • Requirements: Bi-weekly chapter exercises, midterm test, final exam. Graduates: research project TBD.
  • Prerequisite: 361 & 362 (may be taken concurrently), or permission of instructor. Preferably some exposure too LINGuistics.
  • Note: Availability in timetabled slots is expected for this course.

Instructor: Catherine Stinson

Topic: Third Wave Artificial Intelligence

WINTER (3.0)

This course explores an emerging approach to the philosophy of Artificial Intelligence (AI) that combines the case studies and methodological analysis characteristic of philosophy of science, with consideration of the ethical questions facing the scientific community.

The topics of discussion will focus on questions arising from AI’s recent rise to prominence. These include whether an algorithm can be biased, whether deep learning networks perceive objects the same way primate brains do, and why it matters for security, whether the erosion of privacy that comes along with participation in social media and use of contemporary technology is a fair price to pay for the convenience of high tech tools, how biometric tracking technologies like facial recognition, covid-19 contact tracing, and wearables intersect with racial injustice, how the culture of silicon valley affects the technologies it produces, and whether there should be some questions that researchers are not permitted to explore.

Delivery: The course will consist of a combination of synchronous video discussions, asynchronous text discussions, independent work, and work in small groups.

  • Texts/Readings: 
    • Costanza-Chock, Design Justice
    • Douglas, “The Moral Responsibilities of Scientists”
    • Mbembe, “Necropolitics”
    • Stark, “Facial recognition is the plutonium of AI”
    • Zuboff, The Age of Surveillance Capitalism
    • plus readings available online, and film pairings.
  • Assessment: Details TBA. Participation in video and/or text discussions, mixed-media assignments, and a research project.
  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300‐level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units  of PHIL at the 300‐level)]. 

Instructor: Adele Mercier

SPRING (3.0)

The course will cover modal logics in their Leibnizian and Kripkean forms, comparing their alethic, epistemic, deontic and temporal interpretations and the theorems deriving from them; and higher-order logics. This will complete an exhaustive survey of what is known a Classical Logic. The course will explore Non-Classical Logics:   the justification for and consequences of various tri-valued logics; the justification for and consequences of many- and infinite-valued logics; and the oft trivialized by the ignorant: Fuzzy Logic (which is far from fuzzy…).

  • Requirements: Weekly chapter exercises, midterm test, final exam. Graduates: research project TBD.
  • Prerequisites: 361 & 362 or equivalent by permission of instructor.
  • NOTE: Availability in timetabled slots is expected for this course.

Instructor: Mick Smith

Topic: Environmental Philosophy

WINTER (3.0)

This course will engage with a number of key environmental issues such as biodiversity and extinction, preservation or conservation, environmental and social justice, eco-feminism, deep ecology, bioregionalism and ecological restoration drawing on various philosophical traditions in ethics, hermeneutics, political philosophy, ontology, and phenomenology. The aim is to provide both an overview of the variety of topics that can be encompassed within environmental philosophy and to encourage participants to develop critical and innovative approaches to questions of direct practical import. While the focus will generally be on our ethical relations to non-human entities and our understanding and interpretation of these relations we will be particularly concerned to examine the ways in which our ethical evaluations might be informed by, and inform, our understandings of particular places/environments.

  • Prerequisite: Level 4 and (PHIL 250/6.0 and PHIL 257/6.0) and (a minimum GPA of 2.4 in all 300-level PHIL) and [(registration in a PHIL Major Plan and 9.0 units of PHIL at the 300 level) or (registration in a PHIL Medial Plan and 6.0 units of PHIL at the 300-level)].