About our Graduate Courses

⚠ Students who are not graduate students in the Department of Philosophy must secure an instructor’s approval before taking a graduate-level philosophy course.

You will not be able to add these courses to your schedule via ACORN.

Fill out the SGS Add/Drop Course(s) Form, have it signed by the instructor, and submit it to the Graduate Administrator.

Students from other Ontario universities must request enrolment in U of T graduate-level courses through the Ontario Visiting Graduate Students Exchange Program. Contact the Graduate Office of your home university for more information.

Course Listings

The courses below are listed with instructors, times, and descriptions, as well as the breadth requirement(s) satisfied in each case. Unless otherwise noted, PHL graduate courses will be taught at the Jackman Humanities Building on the fourth floor, in room 401 or room 418.

Breadth Requirements

History of Philosophy

  1. Ancient
  2. Medieval
  3. 17th and 18th century
  4. 19th century
  5. 20th century

Contemporary Problems of Philosophy

  1. Metaphysics, Epistemology, Philosophy of Science (MES)
  2. Values (Ethics and Metaethics, Social and Political Philosophy, Aesthetics, Philosophy of Religion) (V)
  3. Mind, Language, Logic (MLL)


2017-2018 Graduate Courses

Fall 2017

AMP2000Y Proseminar for the Collaborative Program in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (CPAMP)
Instructor: TBA
Mondays, 4-6 in LI 205 (Fall Term) / LI 301 (Winter term)
Limited to CPAMP students

This course is mandatory for CPAMP students in year 1 and 2; program students who have fulfilled this requirement are expected to attend regularly. Other interested doctoral students are welcome to attend as well and should contact the program director to indicate their interest. The proseminar has three components: a series of seminars; an ancient Greek philosophy reading group and a Latin medieval philosophy reading group. All students in the proseminar must attend the seminars and at least one of the reading groups; students are warmly encouraged to attend both reading groups. For the course schedule and details on the reading groups see the CPAMP website.


HPS3000F Introduction to Philosophy of Science
Instructor: Brian Baigrie
Fridays, 10-12  at Northrop Frye Hall 009 (NF009)
Breadth Requirement – MES

This course is designed as a graduate level introduction to philosophy of science. The lectures and discussions will explore some key issues in the philosophical literature on the natural sciences, including the aims of science, explanation, the underdetermination thesis, laws of nature, the status of theoretical entities, experimental practice, the role of instruments, the unity/disunity of the sciences. Wherever possible, we will attempt to situate these issues in their historical context, and to relate their emergence to associated intellectual approaches (e.g., feminist, anthropological, sociological trends). In order to facilitate discussion, however, we will chiefly be concerned with the treatment that these issues have been given by a handful of scholars (esp. Kuhn, van Fraassen Hacking, Latour, Cartwright) who have contributed greatly to the present shape of philosophy of science and the considerable influence that it enjoys in many academic circles.


 MST3321F Philosophy of Mind in the Middle Ages
Instructor: Deborah Black
Fridays, 10-12 in Lillian Massey Rm. 301
Breadth Requirement – History: Medieval
Topic for 2017-2018: Avicenna (Ibn Sīnā) on the Soul

This course will be devoted to a close reading of Avicenna’s most comprehensive work on philosophical psychology, The Book on the Soul from his summa of philosophy, The Healing (Al-Shifāʾ). This text covers a wide range of topics, and had a lasting impact on philosophy and theology both in the Islamic world and the West. Avicenna covers a wide range of topics, including the relation of the soul and the intellect to the body; personal identity, consciousness, and self-awareness; the nature of intellectual cognition; the nature of sense perception and imagination; animal cognition; and the relations between intellectual and sense cognition.

Main Texts: Our readings will be drawn from the complete draft English translation by D. Black and M. Marmura, Avicenna, Healing: Psychology. The text is also available in the original Arabic, in medieval Latin translation, and in French.


PHL1111F PhD Proseminar:  Rationality
Instructors: Sergio Tenenbaum / Jonathan Weisberg
Wednesdays, 12-3
Breadth Requirement – MLL

Epistemologists and action theorist often raise very similar questions with respect to practical and theoretical rationality. But they often pay little attention to each other?s work. This course will discuss a number of questions in the theory of rationality that seem to raise parallel issues in both domains.

Specific questions and topics may include: rationality over time (time-slice vs diachronic rationality), kinds of rationality (instrumental vs epistemic vs moral), voluntarism (does rationality ever require more than we are capable of?), relativism (are rationality’s requirements the same for all, or are they relative to personal/social normative systems?), internalism vs. externalism, and systematicity (can the requirements of rationality be captured in a few, simple principles?).


PHL2005F Seminar in Plato – Plato’s Theaetetus
Instructor: Rachel Barney
Tuesdays, 3-6
Breadth Requirement – History: Ancient

A ‘slow reading’ of Plato’s great epistemological work, a sustained investigation of the question, ‘What is knowledge?’ Questions to be considered include: the relation of knowledge to sense perception, to belief, and to explanation; Plato’s dialectical method, its ‘dramatic’ features, and its (here, purely negative) results; and the relation of epistemology to metaphysics in his later works. No prior background in Greek philosophy is assumed.


PHL2084F Seminar in 19th-C. Continental Philosophy – Hegel’s Logic
Instructor: Nick Stang
Wednesdays, 6-9
Breadth Requirement – History: 19th Century

This course will be a graduate-level introduction to, and survey of, Hegel’s Science of Logic. As its name suggests, this is a work of logic, which Hegel, following the tradition, understands as the science of the laws of thought. But, Hegel claims, “logic coincides with metaphysics.” So the Logic is not merely about the laws of thought, but also about the traditional object of metaphysics: being qua being. Hegel undertakes, in the Logic, to develop, from the nature of thought itself, not merely all of the logical categories with which we must think, but also all of the ontological categories of being, because, ultimately, these are one and the same set of categories. After considering some larger questions about the Logic as a whole (what is its subject-matter? what is its ‘method’?), we will examine individual sections and categories in detail (e.g. being, becoming, and nothing; ‘spurious’ vs. ‘true’ infinite; actuality and modality; and Hegel’s doctrine of the “Concept”). No  previous experience with Hegel will be presupposed, though familiarity with Kant’s first Critique will be a helpful background.


 PHL2111F Seminar in Epistemology: Internalism and Externalism
Instructors: David Barnett / Jennifer Nagel
Tuesdays, 12-3
Breadth Requirement- MES

One of the deepest divisions in contemporary epistemology concerns the significance of the agent’s subjective point of view. Internalists assign a decisive role to this point of view in their accounts of justification and knowledge; externalists dissent.  This course will explore questions concerning subjectivity, reflection, introspection, iterations of knowledge, the scope of what is accessible to the subject, and the shift between first- and third-person epistemic evaluations. Authors to be studied include: Barnett, BonJour, Chisholm, Conee, Dougherty, Feldman, Goldman, Kornblith, Littlejohn, Nagel, Rysiew, Wedgwood, White, and Williamson.

Requirements: one short paper (1250 word maximum)—20%; term paper prospectus (roughly 400 words)—10%; mid-size term paper (3000-word maximum)—70%.


PHL2132F Seminar in Ethics – Neo-Aristotelianism in Ethics
Instructor: Philip Clark
Thursdays, 12-3
Breadth Requirement – Values

In the article that launched what is now known as virtue ethics, Anscombe distinguished the moral “ought” from the ordinary “ought,” and claimed that we could and should do ethics without the moral “ought.” We will explore the idea of the ordinary “ought.” Is there a good distinction here? Is the ordinary “ought” a better starting point for ethics than the moral “ought?” Can we really do ethics without the moral “ought?” Will an ethics built on the ordinary “ought” turn out to be objectionably egoistic? We will address these and other questions with the help of authors from Anscombe to the present.


PHL2142F Topics in Political Philosophy – Property
Instructors: Waheed Hussain / Andrew Franklin-Hall
Wednesdays, 3-6
Breadth Requirement – Values

We live in political communities that recognize private ownership in land, raw materials, finished goods, inventions, artistic expressions, images, and many other things besides. Public recognition of private ownership is one of the most important ways that a political community recognizes the importance of  individuality and personhood. Yet private control can also threaten political community, as private owners may exercise their property  rights in ways that are at odds with communal interests and communal concerns. Moreover, some forms of ownership seem inconsistent with the respect due to personhood and personal relationships (the paradigm case is slavery, but it’s arguably true of other forms of commodification as well). In these ways, private property raises fundamental questions about our moral status as individuals and how this relates to the moral status of the wider political communities that we form with one another.  This seminar will explore a range of  issues about the nature of private property, moral limits on what can be owned, and the place of property in a modern liberal democracy. We will draw on historical and contemporary thinkers, and situate their work in the context of debates both among liberals and between liberals and their nonliberal critics.


PHL2144F Seminar in Social Philosophy – Families, Obligations, and Permissions
Instructor: Amy Mullin
Thursdays, 9-12
Breadth Requirement – Values

In this class we will ask and seek to answer questions about families, such as the following. Is it morally acceptable to have children given our environmental impact? How do we acquire rights and responsibilities to raise children and what measures should societies take to ensure that families meet their obligations? What obligations do we have to family members, particularly those more dependent and vulnerable members and what is the source of any such responsibilities? What grounds children’s moral status? Do children have a right to be loved? Are there benefits that we are permitted to bestow on family members which might not otherwise be permissible because in tension with social equality? Course readings will be drawn primarily from contemporary philosophical work.


PHL2191F Philosophy of Language
Instructor: Nate Charlow / Imogen Dickie
Tuesdays, 6-9
Breadth Requirement – MLL

This course will cover a range of topics connected with the theory of communication. We will start by working through some foundational readings by Frege, Grice, Kaplan, and Stalnaker, then move on to contemporary debates.


PHL2195F Philosophy of Biology – Perspectives on Philosophy of Science
Instructor: Denis Walsh
Mondays, 12-3
Breadth Requirement – MES

General philosophy of science developed largely independently of the philosophy of biology. In light of the growing maturity of the philosophy of biology, it is worth asking how it might inform—or transform—the foundational issues in the philosophy of science. The objective of this series of seminars is to present a range of topics in the general philosophy of science from the perspective of the philosophy of biology. These include: Laws of Nature, Models and Theories, Causation, Explanation, Emergence, and Essentialism. Seminars are conducted as open discussions. Each week volunteers will offer a short (five-ten minute) introduction to the assigned readings. There will be a 7000 word final essay.


PHL2222F Platonism vs. Naturalism (MA seminar)
Limited to PHL MA Students
Instructor: Lloyd Gerson
Mondays, 9-12
Breadth Requirement – History: Ancient

In this course we will examine the hypothesis advanced by Richard Rorty: Platonism is identical with philosophy if philosophy is understood as having a distinct subject matter. Rorty went on to argue that since Platonism is unsustainable, we ought to abandon philosophy as an area of human endeavor in which truth or truths can be discovered. Philosophy is at best a type of “edifying” social discourse or a form or cultural criticism. We will focus on the historical construction of Platonism and then various versions of naturalism, the view that everything important that is knowable is knowable by and in the natural sciences. This course will take us from the dialogues of Plato to contemporary cutting edge science and various deflationary views regarding a number of the questions repeatedly posed in the history of philosophy.


PHL3000F MA Professional Development Seminar
Instructor(s):  Ware, Franklin-Hall, Mullin, & Allen
Four sessions:  Sept 28, Oct 16, Nov 6 & Nov 23  in JHB 401

This four-session course provides MA students with professional advice on teaching, grading, conference presentations, writing for publication, and life after graduation. The Seminar is a required course for all MA students, and is graded on a CR/ NCR (Credit/Non-credit) basis. Classes are held in JHB 401, at 6pm, on two Mondays and two Thursdays during the term.

Thursday, September 28th:  Owen Ware

  • Term Paper, Writing Sample, Publication

Monday, October 16th:  Andrew Franklin-Hall

  • Discussion, Debate, Feedback, and Evaluation in the Classroom

Monday, November 6th:  Amy Mullin

  • Graduate Education, Teaching, and Research in the Overall Structure of the University

Thursday, November 23rd:  James Allen

  • Freedom of Speech, Academic Freedom, and the Politics of the Classroom

 Winter 2018

AMP2000Y Proseminar for the Collaborative Program in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (CPAMP)
Instructor: TBA
Mondays, 4-6, in LI 205 (Fall Term) / LI 301 (Winter term)
Limited to CPAMP students

This course is mandatory for CPAMP students in year 1 and 2; program students who have fulfilled this requirement are expected to attend regularly. Other interested doctoral students are welcome to attend as well and should contact the program director to indicate their interest. The proseminar has three components: a series of seminars; an ancient Greek philosophy reading group and a Latin medieval philosophy reading group. All students in the proseminar must attend the seminars and at least one of the reading groups; students are warmly encouraged to attend both reading groups. For the course schedule and details on the reading groups see the CPAMP website.


 HPS 3005S Philosophy of Physics: Varieties of Structuralism
Instructor: Michael Miller
Tuesdays, 10-12  at Northrop Frye Hall 007 (NF007)
Breadth Requirement – MES

Structural realism, in one of its recently defended forms, is the view that the success of scientific theories is to be accounted for by the fact that such theories latch onto the structure of the world itself. Making this view precise requires articulating what is meant by “structure”,  but this task has proved to be very difficult. One aim of this seminar is to revisit the origins and motivation for this view in the work of Poincaré, Duhem, Russell, Suppes, and van Fraassen, among others. A second aim will be to consider how contemporary structural realism is intended to address the arguments of scientific anti-realists and the arguments against the syntactic view of theories. Pursuing these aims together will allow us to identify a variety of distinct structuralist views, and to consider whether any of them is ultimately defensible.

 JCY5116S Freud’s Case Histories
Instructor: Rebecca Comay
Tuesdays, 1-3 at Isabel Bader Theatre, 3rd floor, Linda Hutcheon Seminar Room (BT319)
Breadth Requirement – History: 20th Century

This course will be devoted to reading Freud’s case histories. We’ll be paying close attention to the unstable relationship between the theoretical and the clinical registers in Freud’s text, with particular emphasis on the psychoanalytic concepts of transference, resistance, repetition, working-through, “construction in analysis,” and the end-of-analysis. In addition to the major case studies — Dora, Anna O, Little Hans, Schreber, Wolfman, Ratman –we will also consider the snippets of Freud’s own auto-analysis (e.g. the “specimen dream” in the Interpretation of Dreams, the Autobiographical Fragment, and other first-person texts, including Freud’s early correspondence with Fliess). Our reading of the primary texts will be accompanied by recent theoretical and critical engagements with the case histories, including Jacques Lacan, Hélène Cixous, Luce Irigaray, Nicolas Abraham and Maria Torok, Jacques Derrida, Jacqueline Rose, and Eric Santner.

Evaluation: Class presentation with write-up 30%, participation 10%, final paper 60%


MST3322S The Philosophy of William of Ockham
Instructor: Peter King
Mondays, 2-4 in LI 310
Breadth Requirement – Medieval

This seminar will be a survey of the philosophy of William of Ockham, the 14th-century philosopher and theologian who set much of the current philosophical debates on their ear with his radically new approaches in metaphysics and philosophy of mind (among others). We’ll look at what Ockham had to say about logic, ontology, categories, his notorious rejection of any real universals, his new psychological theory of skills and abilities, his claims about knowledge and whether they entail skepticism; time permitting we’ll take a quick look at his contribution to the poverty debates of the day.


PHL2009S Seminar in Greek Philosophy:  Ancient Scepticism
Instructor: James Allen
Thursdays, 6-9
Breadth Requirement – History: Ancient

Late in the Hellenistic era (1st century BCE), a school of self-styled sceptics arose. The name, which comes from ‘skepsis’, meaning inquiry, signaled a distinctive philosophical stance or attitude. Unlike other schools, theirs was not defined by allegiance to a set of tenets or doctrines, but by a commitment to the open-minded and open-ended pursuit of the truth. They also called themselves ‘aporetics’, those in a condition of unresolved puzzlement, and ‘Pyrrhonists’ after Pyrrho, a 3rd century BCE philosopher from whose way of life they drew inspiration. Though the use of the term ‘sceptic’ by the Pyrrhonists was new, they had precursors, above all the Academics, i.e., members of the school founded by Plato from what we may call its ‘skeptical turn’ in the 3rd century BCE until its dissolution two centuries later. In recognition of this affinity, we speak of the ‘sceptical Academy’. Both skeptical schools ranged widely in their inquiries, but questions about the nature and possibility of knowledge were at the centre of their interests.  The aim of this seminar will be to give equal attention to both. Our principal texts will be Cicero’s Academica and Sextus Empiricus’ Outlines of Pyrrhonism.


PHL2063S Kant’s Ethics
Instructor: David Novak
Wednesdays, 12-3
Breadth Requirement – History: 18th Century

This course will deal with Kant’s ethics, which he considered to be the most important area of Philosophy. We will his idea of autonomy, the three formulations of the categorical imperative, the ethical community, and the function of religion. Readings will be from: Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals; Metaphysics of Morals; Critique of Practical Reason; Religion within the Boundaries of Mere Reason. The course grade will be based on seminar participation (25%), and a 6,000 word term paper.


PHL2084S Seminar in 19th-C. Continental Philosophy: Fichte
Instructor: Owen Ware
Wednesdays, 6-9
Breadth Requirement – History: 19th Century

This seminar will be an advanced-level introduction to the work of J.G. Fichte, the early post-Kantian thinker whose system of transcendental philosophy decisively shaped the landscape of German idealist thought in the 19th Century. We shall begin by investigating the first principle of Fichte’s ‘Science of Knowledge,’ the principle of the I, and discuss recent debates over its status, whether metaphysical or non-metaphysical, as well as its methodological role, whether foundationalist or coherentist. For the remainder of the seminar we shall embark upon a close reading of Fichte’s System of Ethics and examine its radically new theories of normative authority, duty, conscience, evil, and community.


PHL2089S 20thC Continental Philosophy – Intersubjectivity, Other Minds, and the Second Person
Instructor: Michael Morgan
Wednesdays, 3-6
Breadth Requirement – History: 20th Century

In this course we will examine, discuss, and compare a number of twentieth century discussions of our relation, as first person subjects, to others. Broadly speaking, these accounts arise in the course of considering intersubjectivity, the problem of other minds, and the role of the second person. We shall have limited time, but the figures we shall consider will come from the following list: Husserl, Heidegger, Scheler, Edith Stein, Sartre, Merleu Ponty, Alfred Schutz, Aron Gurwitsch, Gabriel Marcel, Paul Ricoeur, Martin Buber, Emmanuel Levinas, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Sebastian Rodl, Stephen Darwall, P.F Strawson, Jay Wallace, Stanley Cavell, Dan Zahavi, and Simon Glendinning.


PHL2093S Frege
Instructor: Bernard Katz
Fridays, 12-3
Breadth Requirement – History: 20th Century

This course will examine a number of the central texts of Gottlob Frege, one of the principal authors of the philosophical tradition that became known as Analytic Philosophy. One of the distinguishing features of Analytic Philosophy is the idea that philosophical problems are best studied through language, or at least through the logical analysis of meaning and representation. Frege initiated the transformation in philosophy that led to this development. Our main goal will be to gain an appreciation of Frege as a systematic thinker. But we shall also try to gain an understanding of what distinguished his approach to philosophy from that of his predecessors.

A great number of the fundamental doctrines of Frege were inspired by his work in developing formal logic. It is difficult to grasp these doctrines without the relevant concepts of formal logic. Accordingly, a course in formal logic (for example, an undergraduate course equivalent to PHL245H) is a prerequisite for this course.


PHL 2096S Seminar in Analytic Philosophy – Perception and Judgment
Instructor: Sonia Sedivy
Wednesdays, 12-3
Breadth Requirement – MES

What is judgement? Kant defined the faculty or power of judgement as the faculty “for thinking the particular under the universal” or as “the capacity to subsume under rules, that is, to distinguish whether something falls under a given rule.” But just what is it to do this? Does contemporary interest in the contextual, embodied and skillful nature of much human activity fit with or expand a Kantian sense that such activities “involve” judgement? This course will address such issues by focusing on Kant’s work on judgement along with interpretive texts, and on a range of discussions in recent and contemporary philosophy of mind and perception.

Preliminary readings will be announced for the first class.


PHL2097S Topics in Analytic Philosophy – Rise and Fall of the Early David Lewis
Instructor: Benj Hellie
Mondays, 6-9
Breadth Requirement – History: 20th Century

David Lewis (with a publication record starting in 1966 and extending past his 2001 death) is arguably—and perhaps demonstrably—the recent philosopher with the greatest influence over recent analytic philosophy. This suggests that there may be merit in doing battle over the meaning of his philosophical legacy, and attempting to enlist Lewis as hero, villiain, or both in one’s own philosophical world view. The ascendancy of metaphysics, starting toward the end of the last century and continuing into this one, has been associated with an image of Lewis as, in the first instance, a metaphysician. But as a philosopher of mind and language, I have been interested in exploring a revisionary narrative (for a sketch, see my ‘David Lewis and the Kangaroo: Graphing philosophical progress’): at the outset of his career, Lewis formulated and pursued a ‘third-person’ or ‘objective’ program in philosophy of mind and language; the inherent implausibilities in such a program led to its collapse, over the course of the 1970s; but in 1983-4, Lewis performed a breathtaking course of rhetorical manoeuvres through which he redefined himself as a metaphysician, escaping the collapse. This course will follow this narrative: we will read a lot of David Lewis, particularly the work from 1966 to 1984, exploring a wide range of nuances, tensions, virtues, paradoxes, and chains of thought.


PHL2101S Seminar in Metaphysics: Varieties of Indeterminacy
Instructor: Jessica Wilson
Tuesdays, 6-9
Breadth Requirement – MES

In this seminar, we will start by canvassing phenomena that appear to involve indeterminacy of some sort or another; these include the familiar Sorites sequences for terms or properties such as ‘bald’ or ‘red’, the seemingly open future, the seeming indeterminacy of macro-object boundaries, and quantum value indeterminacy. We will spend a few weeks familiarizing ourselves with certain semantic and epistemic approaches to indeterminacy; we will then turn to a more detailed investigation into the options for properly accommodating certain phenomena as involving genuine metaphysical indeterminacy. 


PHL2135S Metaethics: Pragmatism and Metaethics
Instructor: Andrew Sepielli
Mondays, 9-12
Breadth Requirement – Values

To accept pragmatism is: (a) to focus one’s philosophical inquiry on evaluative questions concerning thought and its expression; and (b) to take the results of this inquiry to obviate the need to vindicate our practices from an external standpoint—e.g. by appeal to claims in metaphysics, or to claims about mental representation or rationality.

In this course, we’ll consider the prospects of applying pragmatism to the major questions in contemporary metaethics. Readings will include work by pragmatists both classical and “neo-“, contemporary meta-ethicists, contemporary philosophers writing on things like metaontology and the value of truth, and some scattered psychologists, sociologists, and historians. Additionally, I’ll be workshopping a few chapters of my own book-in-progress.


PHL 2142S Seminar in Political Philosophy: Political Obligation
Instructor: Shruta Swarup
Wednesdays, 6-9
Breadth Requirement – Values

Most of us have prudential reasons to comply with the laws of our state. But is there a moral duty to obey these laws, and if so, what is its ground? The content of many of the legal duties imposed by states coincides with the content of commonly accepted moral duties. In such cases, the claim that there is a duty to obey the law may seem no more in need of justification than the claim that there are these uncontroversial moral duties to begin with. However, what is obvious in these cases is only that there is a moral duty to act as the law commands.  What is not obvious is whether there is a duty to obey the law—a duty to do as the law commands because the law commands it. Philosophers have advanced various arguments for the claim that there is such a duty—for the claim that we have “political obligation”. In this seminar, we will examine these arguments as well as the skeptical replies of critics.


PHL2148S Philosophy of Law – Equality and Discrimination
Instructor: Sophia Moreau
Tuesdays, 12-3
Breadth Requirement – Values

This course examines recent philosophical work on the value of equality and the nature of discrimination, and applies them to a few recent developments in discrimination law. We will start by looking at recent discussions within analytic philosophy about why equality matters and what it is that should be equalized. In this unit of the course, we will read articles about equality and distributive justice by Ronald Dworkin, G.A. Cohen, and Richard Arneson, and articles by relational egalitarians such as Elizabeth Anderson and Sam Scheffler, who have argued that equality is best understood as a relationship between people of equal status. We will then investigate the ways in which issues from these debates play out in discussions of discrimination. There has been a surge in philosophical interest in discrimination over the past fifteen years, and we will look at much of the recent philosophical literature on discriminationin particular, the theories developed by Deborah Hellman, Tarun Khaitan, and Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen.

We will also look briefly at relevant cases and legal doctrines, as a way of exploring these theories.

Evaluation: Class participation, 15%, Short seminar presentation, 15%, Term paper of 20 pages, 70%.


PHL2175S Philosophy of Perception – Perception of Space and Time
Instructor: Mohan Matthen
Tuesdays, 9-12
Breadth Requirement – MES

Kant suggested (to paraphrase him slightly) that space is the form of external perception and time that of internal experience. He is not the only philosopher to have linked perception and space, experience and time. Aristotle, for example, claimed that perception is needed to “pursue” objects of sensual desire, where “pursuit” presumably has something to do with movement in space. Others have held that our experience of temporal relations consists in the temporal relations among experiences. We will attempt to understand and evaluate these claims in a contemporary context.


PHL 2222S The Idea of Legitimacy in Political and Legal Philosophy (MA Seminar)
Limited to PHL MA Students
Instructor: David Dyzenhaus
Thursdays, 9-12
Breadth Requirement – Values

In this course, we will explore the claim, fundamental to both political and legal philosophy, that both political and legal order have to be understood in terms of a distinction between might and right. The difference between a political/legal order and the order of a war lord or tyrant is that in the former the relationship between  the power holder and the subject of power is one of authority, and so cannot be reduced to the relationships of sheer coercion that obtain in the latter. This distinction tracks the classic distinction in political thought between de facto authority—authority in fact—and de jure authority—legitimate authority. But as we will see, ‘legal positivist’ thinkers in the English tradition suppose that while a legal order must have de facto authority, it need not have and indeed is unlikely to have de jure authority. ‘Natural law’ thinkers, in contrast do seem to suppose that a legal order always has a moral quality to it that makes it to some extent legitimate.  A somewhat similar debate has been unfolding in recent political philosophy between self-styled ‘realists’ who argue that the legitimacy of a political order rests on the actual acceptance of its subjects, and not on (as liberal thinkers suppose) the correspondence of the content of its laws with the prescriptions of a liberal political philosophy. The difference is that in this second debate the realists argue that de facto authority is de jure, precisely what is denied by both legal positivists and liberal political philosophers.

We will examine the distinction between might and right in light of these two debates. We will start with a one seminar, quick introduction to social contract theory, perhaps still the main candidate for an account of de jure authority, which we will get from some of the key chapters of Hobbes’s Leviathan. Second, we will spend three seminars on HLA Hart’s classic work The Concept of Law.  (I will order copies that you can buy at the U of T bookstore, but you should be able to find a cheap, second-hand copy on the internet.) Third, over three seminars we will read some critiques of Hart’s legal positivism by Ronald Dworkin, but also some work by Hart’s most prominent student, Joseph Raz, as well as by the great Austrian legal positivist, Hans Kelsen. Fourth, we proceed to two seminars on the realist debate in political philosophy, focusing on the paper by Bernard Williams, ‘Realism and Moralism in Political Theory’. Finally, over the last three seminars, we will read a draft of a manuscript by me, The long arc of legality, which presents my view of these debates.

Evaluation will be on the basis of a term paper and one class presentation.


PHL 3000S PhD Professional Development Seminar
Instructor: Mark Kingwell
Tuesdays, 12-3

The aim of this course is to prepare students entering the job market for careers as professional philosophers. Students will present and receive feedback on work from their dissertations, and receive training on preparing dossier materials, creating a website, and interviewing.


Summer 2018

May – June Term

PHL2172F Seminar in Philosophy of Mind – Minds, Thinking, and Intellect in Early Modern and Contemporary Philosophy
Instructors: Karolina Hubner / Gurpreet Rattan
Tuesdays/Thursdays, 11-2
Breadth Requirement – MLL

This course will look at conceptions of mind, thought, and intellect in the early modern period and in contemporary philosophy. The first part of the course will focus on early modern philosophy and will discuss topics such as panpsychism, idealism, mental mereology. The second part of the course will focus on more contemporary  philosophy, and will focus on explaining an account of the intellect and its principled limits. Readings will be from Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Malebranche, Cavendish, Hume, and a number of early analytic and contemporary authors, including Frege, Carnap, Quine, Davidson, Burge, Field, Chalmers, and others.