400 Level Courses

2022-23

PHIL 405/805
Current Issues in Social & Political Philosophy I
Topic: Interspecies Politics         
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Kymlicka      
Course Number/Name  PHIL 405/805 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 into 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: Comment sheets; seminar presentation; term paper

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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]). 

Course Equivalencies: PHIL405, PHIL453 

PHIL 407/SOC 407
Walls to Bridges - Philosophical Issues  
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Guenther     

Class meets Tuesdays, 2:30-5:30pm at Collins Bay Minimum Security Institution

Walls to Bridges is an experiential learning course that brings together students from Queen’s University (‘outside students’) with students from Collins Bay Minimum Security Institution (‘inside students’) to learn and share knowledge based on their lived experience and critical analysis of academic scholarship. In this course, students will explore the complexities of criminalization and punishment through reflection, discussion, reading, and activity-based learning. This is a transformational educational experience that draws upon lived experience as a source of philosophical knowledge and challenges the artificial boundaries between people who are experiencing imprisonment and those who are not.

See http://wallstobridges.ca for more information about the W2B program.

Essential information

  • Enrolment is limited to 5 outside Queen’s students
  • There is a two-stage application process (written application and zoom interview)
  • All students must commit to attend and actively participate in each and every class (Tuesdays, 2:30-5:30pm)
  • Outside students must consent to security clearance procedures required by the Correctional Services of Canada (including fingerprinting)
  • Outside students must provide their own transportation to Collins Bay Minimum (1455 Bath Road, Kingston; the 701 express bus stops nearby, and carpooling may be arranged)

Please see the Philosophy and Sociology websites for the course application. Applications must be received by Dr. Lisa Guenther at lisa.guenther@queensu.ca no later than 5pm on 20 May 2022.  Zoom interviews will be scheduled for late May.

Course Description: Restorative justice is a practice of responding to harm or wrong-doing by seeking healing and reconciliation rather than punishment and exclusion.  In this course, we will study philosophical theories of restorative justice as well as common restorative practices, such as healing circles and truth and reconciliation commissions. We will learn about the Indigenous roots of restorative justice, including the Haudenosaunee conciliation ceremony and the African concept of Ubuntu (which means, “We are all related,” or “I am because you are”).  And we will also engage with the perspectives of Indigenous, Black, and feminist critics of restorative justice who argue for the importance of righteous indignation in seeking justice and question the power dynamics of forgiveness in situations of oppression.   

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 upon course readings and connecting the content of these readings to lived experiences. Group work, active participation and open listening are essential components of the course.

W2B Application

Name:                                                                                 
Date of birth:
Major:                                                                                 
GPA:
Email:                                                                                   
Phone number:

  1. What interests you about this specific course? What do you think this unique course will offer you?
  2. What can you bring to the class? For example, special knowledge or experiences.
  3. Have you taken any courses in philosophy, criminology, law, social justice, or other relevant courses?
  4. How do you imagine the similarities and differences between the learning needs, goals, and challenges of inside and outside students?
  5. What do you think will be the most challenging issue for you in this class? Do you have any apprehensions or concerns?

PHIL 410/810     
Topics in the History of Philosophy
Topic: How the mind works, according to Indian Philosophy
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Murty            

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)].

PHIL 412/812    
Topics in Philosophy of Culture
Topic: Philosophy of Culture
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Manning      

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)].

PHIL 420/820     
Ethical Issues I
Topic: Selected Issues in Bioethics
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Schüklenk    

We will discuss in each class a limited number of specific topics in bioethics. Typically, in this course, the topics are student-initiated. We have, in past installments of this course, covered a wide variety of issues, ranging from gender reassignment to the criminalisation of HIV transmission to standards of care in a trial, global health aid obligations and MAiD for patients with refractory depression.

You are encouraged to work on a topic/question that is of genuine interest to you, and focus on that, both in your classroom presentation as well as in what will be your only major written piece of work, namely an extended essay (5000 words for PHIL420 students, 6000 words for PHIL820 students). In the essay you are required to defend a clear thesis, reviewing arguments without taking and defending a stance won’t cut it.

I will cover the first 3-4 weeks with lectures and readings, after that it will be your turn.

The structure of each class is: 20-30 min presentations per topic (by me or you), rebuttal (10-15 min by students assigned that task in advance), general classroom discussion. The required readings will be agreed on in advance of the class. The objective of these presentations is to ‘test-run’ your essay arguments. The presentation will be on the same topic as your essay.

  • Reconsider taking this course if presenting content and subjecting yourself to a lively discussion of your views might pose a challenge you’d rather not face.
  • Reconsider taking this course if the thought of having to write a coherent 5000 or 6000 word argument in support of a position you need to defend/argue for might not be your thing.

Everyone else: come on in. The course is usually enjoyed by those taking it.

In case you’d like to get a head-start, contact me during the summer term to lock in your topic and presentation date. I operate a first come first served policy. You can reach me at  udo.schuklenk@pm.me

Texts/Readings: Given that we will have readings based on the essay topics/questions you wish to address, there won’t be a prescribed text. We typically pick one or two peer reviewed journal articles to study in preparation for a given classroom presentation. You will access those prescribed readings journal articles using library resources.

Assessment Essay: 40% of overall grade

Presentation: 20% of overall grade

Rebuttal: 15% of overall grade

Weekly Required Readings Question: 10% of overall grade

Classroom participation: 15% of overall grade

Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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]). 

PHIL 431/831     
Ancient Philosophy I
Topic: Hellenistic Philosophy
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Lehoux          

This course will examine a range of Hellenistic and Roman philosophical texts. Particular focus will be on the overlaps between epistemology, physics, and ethics in these texts.

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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]). 

Offering Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Science 

PHIL 441/841     
Twentieth Century Philosophy
Topic: Critical Phenomenology
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Guenther     

Phenomenology is a philosophical practice of reflecting on the transcendental structures that make lived experience possible and meaningful.  It begins by bracketing the natural attitude, or the naïve assumption that the world exists apart from consciousness, and “reducing” this everyday experience of the world to the basic structures that constitute its meaning and coherence.  In this sense, phenomenology points us in a critical direction.  But where classical phenomenology remains insufficiently critical is in failing to give an equally rigorous account of how contingent historical and social structures also shape our experience, not just empirically or in a piecemeal fashion, but in a way that is so fundamental, we could call it quasi-transcendental.  Structures such as patriarchy, white supremacy, and heteronormativity permeate, organize, and reproduce the natural attitude in ways that go beyond any particular object of thought.  They are not things to be seen, but rather ways of seeing, and even ways of making the world that go unnoticed without a sustained practice of critical reflection to make them visible.  In this seminar, we will learn the basic concepts of classical phenomenology and explore the possibilities for critical phenomenology in the work of Frantz Fanon, Sara Ahmed, Gayle Salamon, Alia Al-Saji, and others.  

Readings:

  • Dan Zahavi.  Husserl’s Phenomenology.  Stanford, CA.: Stanford UP, 2003.
  • Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception. Trans. by Donald Landes. Foreword by Taylor Carmen. Routledge, 2012.  (There is an older translation by Colin Smith, but I recommend the more recent translation.)
  • Gail Weiss, Ann Murphy, and Gayle Salamon, eds. 50 Concepts for a Critical Phenomenology (Northwestern University Press, October 2019). (This book will not be published until October 1, but I have requested rush copies for the bookstore, and I have posted a few of the chapters on onQ.)
  • All other required readings are available on onQ.

Assessment:

  • Presentation (20%)
  • Five Reflection Papers (total 25%)
  • Final Paper (55%)

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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]). 

PHIL 441/841
Twentieth Century Philosophy
Topic: Origin and History of Analytic Philosophy              
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Mozersky

Analytic philosophy arose in the early part of the 20th Century and led to a revolution in philosophy that is still felt to this day.  In this course we will closely examine the most important contributors to the founding of analytic philosophy in order to get a detailed understanding of their views.  We will then trace the influence of these early writings through the 20th Century with an eye toward understanding its scope, limits, and prospects.

Texts/Readings: TBD

Assessment: Class participation; final essay.

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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]). 

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.

PHIL 445
Major Figures I
Topic: The Philosophy of Levinas             
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Davies

This seminar offers an introduction to the work of 20th century philosopher Emmanuel Levinas (1906-1995), focussed on a careful reading of his first major book Totality and Infinity. We consider, for example, what it means to think ethics phenomenologically, what Levinas meant by “ethics as first philosophy” and the significance of the encounter with “the face of the Other.” Our study of the primary text will be supplemented by introductory level secondary sources, interviews with Levinas, and lectures situating his work in relation to other major figures, especially of 20th century European philosophy (e.g., Husserl, Heidegger, Buber), as well as Plato and Descartes.

Our major emphasis is on advanced philosophical reading skills, expository writing, and deep engagement with the themes explored.

Regular seminar attendance is expected. Evaluation is based on seminar participation, collaborative reading exercises, a midterm essay and final essay.

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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]). 

PHIL 445/845     
Major Figures I
Topic: Ancient Stoicism
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Miller            

This course will be an advanced introduction to ancient Stoicism. It will cover all areas of philosophy – logic, metaphysics, epistemology and ethics. The focus will be on the primary texts. It will include texts from both the Hellenistic era (= c. the first three centuries BCE) as well as some from Roman times. Students will write a number of comment sheets. In addition, they must produce one short paper and one final essay. More information on the course requirements will be provided at the beginning of the semester.

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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]). 

PHIL 451
Current Issues in Epistemology
Topic: Conspiracy Theories        
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Sismondo    

We’re going to study conspiracy theories. What makes some narratives conspiracy theories? What, if anything, makes conspiracy theories different from other narratives about power in our societies? We’ll be approaching the topic assuming that we can reasonably study the causes of the credibility of conspiracy theories using the same tools and intellectual resources as we might study the causes of the credibility of any other kind of belief. This means that we’ll be approaching conspiracy theories with a combination of generosity and critical analysis. Some background reading should help us to do this.

This is a seminar course. Students will be responsible for becoming experts on particular conspiracy theories, and for teaching their peers about those theories.

Texts/Readings: multiple readings, mostly available online

Assessment: Evaluation will be based on a combination of a very short analytical paper, a seminar presentation, class participation and a final research paper.

LEARNING HOURS 120 (36L;84P).

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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]). 

PHIL 452/852     
Current Issues in Metaphysics
Topic: The philosophy of matter from the pre-Socratics to the current analytical paradigm
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Laycock

What were once referred to as The Elements have become known more recently as the elements and compounds of chemistry. The roles of these substances, not only in the constitution of our bodies and the condition of our planet, but also in the evolution of the cosmos, are central to all three distinct if connected studies. The ancient pre-Socratic notion of an element is very close, for all intents and purposes, to the current notion of a ‘pure chemical’ (or substance – in effect, the notion of an ‘element’, so-called, or compound). Indeed, in identifying water as just such a kind of stuff or ‘element’, the pre-Socratics were already 25% correct. What the ancient notion of an element rules out, among stuff in general, is nothing but the mixtures (for which there are, of course, no theoretical or law-like principles). However, what the pre-Socratics were about, in these endeavours, was not the philosophy of chemistry; that science did not yet exist. Rather, it was an early form of metaphysics, or maybe, more appropriately, metachemistry – an attempt to elucidate the ontic category that such things as water, gold and salt exemplify. Perhaps the most profound attempt to to understand the general category such substances represent is that of Anaximander, who speaks of te Apeiron , ‘the unbounded’ or ‘the Boundless’. Unfortunately however, as things turned out historically, the pre-Socratic efforts were effectively undermined by Aristotle, for whom concrete individual things – and not the stuff they are composed of – becomes the fundamental level of reality. Ironically, a kind of Aristotelian doctrine continues to dominate in analytical philosophy, and even in the abstract form of logic. One consequence of this is that the notion of a substance in an everyday and scientific sense cannot be understood or ‘admitted’ to the realm of ontic categories. Water, the liquid we both drink and swim in, becomes a mere abstraction. But this situation calls for serious re-thinking, not only of what the realm of ontic categories actually contains, but also of just what is wrong with the dominance of an atomistic logic of concrete individual things – what Quine refers to as the ‘canonical notation’. This rethinking was begun by Otto Jespersen, the distinguished Danish linguist, whose work marks the beginning of a much-needed re-examination and philosophical re-thinking.

Assessment: Class participation and an essay.

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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]). 

PHIL 459/859
Current Issues in Philosophy of Language I
Topic: Philosophy of Language
FALL – IN PERSON
Instructor: Mercier        

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 intentional semantics.

Requirements: Bi-weekly chapter exercises, midterm test, final exam. Graduates: research project TBD.

Prerequisite: PHIL 260 (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.

PHIL 466/866     
Topics in Philosophy of Art
Topic: Philosophy of Art
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Knight           

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; environmental art; and environmental aesthetics. We will also consider just how aesthetic appreciation arises in our everyday lives. Topics here might include food, fashion, and mundane activities associated with domestic spaces.

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 raises questions about, for example, junk and garbage, fast fashion, the “perfect” lawn, 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.

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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]).

PHIL 473/873     
Topics in Philosophy of Logic
Topic: Modal and Non-Classical Logics
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Mercier        

An examination of major issues in the philosophy of logic. Possible topics to be considered include deviant logics, the nature of identity, modal logics and the paradoxes of material implication and strict conditionals.

Requirements: Prerequisite Level 4 or above and (PHIL 250 and PHIL 257) and a (minimum GPA of 2.40 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]) and (PHIL 260 or PHIL 361). 

Course Equivalencies: PHIL462, PHIL473 

PHIL 493/893     
Ethics and the Environment
Topic: Environmental Philosophy
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Smith

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)].
 

PPEC 400                            
PPE Capstone
WINTER – IN PERSON
Instructor: Sypnowich, et al.

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.

2021-22

Instructor:

Course description coming soon.  Please check back in summer.

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

CANCELLED - WINTER - ON CAMPUS (3.0)

The big questions of metaphysics go back 2,500 years and do not appear to have greatly changed over the millennia. The simplest Classical source of traditional metaphysical categories is, unsurprisingly, Aristotle’s little work The Categories; it is sketched out in the few pages that constitute the first five sections of that work. Metaphysically front and center of the work is the category of 'individual substances', material bodies or physical objects, situated in space and time. Probably the most significant impact on the Aristotelian system has occurred with the growth of empiricism during the period of the Scientific Revolution, although the influence of Aristotelian ideas remains strong, and much of Aristotle’s doctrine remains congenial to empiricism. At the same time, the idea of an objective metaphysics is carried forwards through the powerfully rationalist thought and writings of Descartes.

The 20th Century saw a rebirth of metaphysical and specifically ontological enquiry, fueled largely by the development of a new form of logic thanks chiefly to Frege, followed by Russell and Wittgenstein, in the first half of that century, and by Willard Quine in the second half. Quine’s dramatic ontological claim – ‘to be is to be the value of a variable’ – has resonated throughout the discipline. Related studies less influenced by formal logic have been influenced by the more liberal work of Peter Strawson and the predominantly ‘English’ school of analytical philosophy. However, the growth of Linguistics, from the early 20th Century work of Jespersen to the more recent work of Chomsky, and beyond, has played an increasingly valuable role.

In this course, we pursue some of the central questions of metaphysics in light especially of the influence of Quine – who for better or worse has been responsible for shaping the current metaphysical ‘orthodoxy’ in analytical philosophy. However, there is also the influence of the less ‘ideological’ or doctrinaire work of Strawson; and their focus on a category which once dominated the interests of leading pre-Socratics, but was subordinated in Aristotle’s hylomorphic doctrines – that of material stuff or matter – has injected a novel element into metaphysics and ontology, thanks to the founding work in the philosophy of grammar by the distinguished Danish linguist Otto Jespersen.

           As preparatory reading, two pieces would definitely repay some attention. They are parts 1 to 5 of Aristotle’s Categories and the contemporary, very thoughtful and (probably not coherent but highly suggestive) piece ‘Particular and General’ by Peter Strawson.

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: PHIL 260 (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)].